Cybersex, Online Infidelity, and Addiction
Clinical Update January 2014
By Zur Institute
Cybersex, like porn and online infidelity, is highly prevalent today with the easy access of mobile devices and the constant availability of sex sites and online pornography. While there are radically varying opinions on what is within normal limits and what is pathological, it is clear that unique relationship complexities have emerged from this new technology. For example, partners, who are in committed monogamous relationships, sometimes engage in an online affair while rationalizing that an online affair isn’t really cheating. This opinion is divided along gender lines, with significantly more males than females holding the opinion that an online affair is not really cheating. Internet sexuality is evolving as quickly as the technology itself, as are indications that an increasing number of people are developing compulsions and addictions around its use. The common venues of online sexual experience these days often involve sexting, Snapchat affairs, virtual reality, and of course millions of porn sites.
- In the modern digital era, it is no longer necessary to seek out another person, in person, in order to have a sexual experience.
- The proliferation of sexting and porn sites have ignited an intense debate of what is normal, healthy, pathological, legal, acceptable, etc. It has also sparked the debate over what is acceptable or ok to do at what age, and what are the meanings of privacy and normalcy.
- A survey in Divorce Magazine found that only 46% of men considered intense Internet relationships to be infidelity, compared to 72% of women.
- Snapchat is often referred to as ‘the sexting app’ because it makes it is easy to use and people believe it is more secure and private.
- Users of Snapchat are various and include teenagers sending explicit Snapchat photos to their friends; adults sending Snapchat pictures to children; and couples sending photos of themselves having sex.
- While some sex and porn addicts use compulsive masturbation as a part of their acting out, others engage only minimally in the sex act itself but nonetheless end up losing themselves to the endless sexual images and sites found online.
- Some signs of porn addiction can include: an inability to stop the behavior(s) and porn use despite previous attempts to do so; anger or irritability if asked to stop; hiding or attempting to keep secret all or a part of the porn use; and living a double or secret life related to porn.
- The costs of online sex and porn addiction can range from emotional, physical health and financial problems to legal, relationship, family, and career consequences.
- Virtual communities make it possible to invent experiences and relationships. For instance, Second Life, contains a Red Light District, while Sociolotron enables users to participate in sexually coercive activities.
- As users dabble with sex from the privacy of their home, office, or cars via mobile phones and tablets, they perceive their online activities as personal and untraceable.
- Just as with other addictive processes, porn addicts need more extreme, unusual or deviant forms of pornography as the addiction develops.