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“The Internet is extremely accessible no matter where you are,” Hertlein says.
“You could be at home or at work or sitting on the couch with your partner chatting to someone online.” As costs for Internet access have dropped, online affairs are also very affordable.
“It starts in the home, which is very different than most affairs.
It starts right under your roof,” says Elaine Ducharme, Ph D, a psychologist in Glastonbury, Conn., who specializes in cybersex addictions.
“That is starting to even out in part because of the equality of opportunity that the Internet brings to everybody,” she says.
While men traditionally have been the more unfaithful sex, gender roles are reversing in some cases as more women experience cybersex.
Almost a third of the participants reported cybersexual experiences, and people in committed relationships were just as likely to engage in cybersex as those who were single. While men’s interest in cybersex decreased with age, women’s interest increased slightly, with 37 percent of women age 35 to 49 reporting cybersexual experiences compared with only a quarter of men in the same age group (, Vol. It found that of 183 adults who were currently or recently in a relationship, more than 10 percent had formed intimate online relationships, 8 percent had experienced cybersex and 6 percent had met their Internet partners in person (, Vol. Kimberly Young, Ph D, who directs the Center for Internet Addiction Recovery in Bradford, Pa., says about half of the couples in her practice are seeking counseling because of online affairs or excessive use of online pornography.
Young sees more women who are online cheaters, in part, she says, because women gravitate toward erotic chats and webcam sessions while men often are drawn to pornography.
“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.
“With the Internet, we’re moving away from just physical ideas about infidelity and acknowledging emotional infidelity.” While there is no universally accepted definition, an Internet affair frequently involves intimate chat sessions and sexually stimulating conversation or cybersex, which may include filming mutual masturbation with a Web camera.
“The Internet is opening up these new ways of exploring your sexuality and that includes infidelity,” she says.