Virtual sexual relationships, conducted over the Internet, bring just as much grief and harm to a family as a face-to-face extramarital sexual relationship, says results from a study posted on Pornography Harms, a peer-reviewed research site. Survey respondents also suggested that in many cases, the person who became involved in cybersex or cyberporn already had sexually compulsive tendencies or behaviors.
Men and women in the 24-57 age demographic whose partner had become involved in cybersex or online sex were surveyed. Feelings they reported experiencing related to their partner’s cybersex involvement included abandonment, shame, anger, reduced self-esteem and a sense of betrayal.
When respondents were asked questions comparing their partner’s cybersex activity with non-computer based affairs, including cypberporn use, most said the pain from their partner’s online activity was just as severe on an emotional level. They also said they considered the online sexual experience of their partner to be just as adulterous as an affair occurring away from a computer.
For children, the effects of a partner’s sexual compulsions toward cybersex were also severe. They were part of fights between parents and may have been exposed to images that created harmful messages about women. They also faced neglect, as one parent spent time pursuing cyberporn or cybersex while the other parent tried to modify the situation. Destruction of the marriage was also witnessed by the children.
Similar to non-cyber based sexual affairs, the partners in the survey experienced phases in a process toward recovery. They began with an attitude of denial, then entered a shock-like state, then began steps to try to remedy the problem themselves. Finally they reached a crisis-level point and began to consider ways they could personally recover.
A partner’s addiction to cybersex also caused divorce or separation in more than 20 percent of survey respondents.