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I didn’t go out and see anybody or catch any diseases,’” she says. 4) by Hertlein and a colleague reviewed eight studies of Internet affairs and documented many negative effects from online romances, including less interest in sex in the committed relationship and neglect of work and time with children.
“But the other partner often feels such an emotional betrayal that they are going through the same feelings as if their partner was having a real affair.” Online affairs can contribute to divorce and child custody fights as the involved partner becomes more enmeshed in the online relationship. Almost two-thirds of the participants in one study reported they had met and had sex with their Internet partners; only 44 percent of them reported using condoms.
“Your primary partner will never be able to compare with the fantasy partner,” Hertlein says.
“They will never win.” According to Young, people with low self-esteem, a distorted body image, an untreated sexual dysfunction or a prior sexual addiction are more at risk to develop addictions to cybersex or online pornography.
Men and women engage in cybersex about equally, he added. People feel very, very violated, particularly because often that communication occurs on the same computer that Johnny and Suzy use for their homework."Moreover, in his work, he has found that about 50 percent of people that engage in cybersex take the contact a step further by talking on the phone, and some--about 15 to 30 percent--meet in person."The good news is that this does not end all marriages necessarily," he said of the couples he sees in therapy.
They also report withdrawal-like symptoms when they're away from the Internet, explained Greenfield, who founded the Center for Internet Studies in West Hartford, Conn., and wrote the book "Virtual Addiction" (New Harbinger, 1999). "[If] you go home and tell your spouse about it, how do you think they're going to feel about it? "In some cases, it can actually be a new beginning for them."The key to successful therapy, he said, is to address the shame and secrecy that often surrounds compulsive cybersex and help clients restructure their computer use.
For example, clients can move the computer to a public room or install software that blocks access to adult sites.
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He added that psychologists should routinely ask clients about their Internet use during intakes, including whether others see it as a problem.--D.It starts right under your roof,” says Elaine Ducharme, Ph D, a psychologist in Glastonbury, Conn., who specializes in cybersex addictions.“You can’t usually get rid of your computer in the house.Americans now spend as much time online as they do watching TV — about 13 hours a week.While TV viewing has remained fairly constant, time spent surfing the Web has increased more than 120 percent over the last five years. Louis and a woman in Seattle enter an online chat room titled "Married, but Lonely," flirt and then switch to a private "electronic bedroom" where their virtual exchange turns erotic.It's not an unusual script for cybersex, said Internet researcher David Greenfield, Ph D, at APA's 2003 Annual Convention.Several studies have focused on the “AAA engine” that drives online affairs, namely accessibility, affordability and anonymity.“The Internet is extremely accessible no matter where you are,” Hertlein says.If there is no physical contact or actual sex, is it still an affair?“It’s not just that you’re communicating with someone online but that there is a sexual or emotional nature,” says Katherine Hertlein, Ph D, an associate professor at the University of Nevada in Las Vegas who studies online affairs.