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When He Looks At Internet Porn, Is He Cheating On You?

caught-pornThe majority of men in United States tell researchers that they look at pornography. The usual figure cited is about 70% of men say they have viewed it. Among young men under 25, the percentage goes up as high as 75% – with half using it at least once a week.

The percentage of women who enjoy porn is just the opposite – 70% have never seen it, and only three percent view it once a week.

Because of male demand, porn on the Internet is big business. About four percent of the top million websites is pornography, and the most popular websites get over 30 million visitors a month. People can search for exactly what they want to see – such as Asian women with black men, bondage, and so forth.

Most men and even most male therapists consider occasional use of pornography as a normal “guy” activity, unless the behavior becomes compulsive and takes up hours a day. At that point, it moves into the area of sexual addiction.

Most men tell researchers that they think all kinds of cybersex is acceptable – including watching a live woman undress, participating in chat rooms where people text and sext in explicit ways, or watching realistic sexual simulations. Men also tell researchers that they don’t really “own” their behavior. Even when they interact in chat rooms, they feel as if they are watching a movie rather than actively participating. In fact, many men do not believe that participating in cybersex is a form of infidelity, because they define infidelity only in physical terms.

On the other hand, women view online sexual activities much more problematically than men, and the gender gap here is big. One study examined the reasons why women do not like cybersex. The most common were: a man who watches pornography has less desire for real sex, they don’t like their bodies to be compared to those of porn stars, and they feel betrayed when their guys use pornography.

Since computer technology is new in the history of humankind, no one really knows what to do about it when it comes to sex and infidelity. Marriage counselors tell researchers that male participation in cybersex comes up all the time in couples therapy, but they feel that they do not have adequate training to deal with it. They make suggestions that a parent might make for child, such as moving the computer to the middle of the living room where everyone can see it and sharing all passwords.

The real problem is that each couple will have a different standard for what constitutes unfaithful behavior online. Some couples are all right with pornography, but a partner may draw the line at sexually explicit e-mails or participating in sexually-oriented chat rooms. Some women consider watching porn the same as being unfaithful.  The main suggestion culled from all this research is that couples should “have the talk.” In other words, before Internet infidelity rears its ugly head, the couple might want to sit down and define exactly what it means to them.

References
Daneback, K., Cooper, A., & Månsson, S. (2005). An internet study of cybersex participants. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 34(3), 321-328.

Docan-Morgan, T., & Docan, C. A. (2007). Internet infidelity: Double standards and the differing views of women and men. Communication Quarterly, 55(3), 317-342.

Douthat, Ross. “Is Pornography Adultery?” TheAtlantic.com, October 2008.

Hertlein, K., & Stevenson, A. (2010). The Seven “As” Contributing to Internet-Related Intimacy Problems: A Literature Review. Cyberpsychology: Journal of Psychosocial Research on Cyberspace, 4(1), article 1.

Mileham, B. L. (2007). Online infidelity in Internet chat rooms: An ethnographic exploration. Computers in Human Behavior, 23(1), 11-31.

Parker T. S., & Wampler K. S., (2003). How bad is it? Perceptions of the relationships impact of different types of internet sexual activities. Contemporary Family Therapy, 25(4), 415-429.

Ruvolo, Julie. “How Much of the Internet is actually Porn?” Forbes Magazine, September 7, 2011.

Schneider, J. P. (2003). The impact of compulsive cybersex behaviours on the family. Sexual & Relationship Therapy, 18(3), 329-354.

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