Are a person’s sexting or sexually-charged online conversations actually a means to a real-world affair? Researchers from the University of Nebraska at Kearney have gathered research to support this theory, and their recent study findings are shedding new light on how the Internet may influence people’s sexual and relational behavior.
Published in the journal Sexuality & Culture, the study involved a survey of more than 5,100 people. Participants seemed to follow a pattern of behavior, in which sexting precluded cybersex, and ultimately led to a real-life relationship outside of an intimate one. Researchers summarized that when people get involved with sexting or online sexual relationships, this behavior seemed to predict that a cheating episode was likely to occur.
Females showed a significantly higher likelihood of getting involved in sexting – sending sexual messages and photos via a cell phone – with someone outside their relationship than did males. Sexting was also more frequent among women in their late twenties, as opposed to those older than age 30, according to a report from ARS Technica.
Of the participants in the survey who had been involved in online sexual relationships, about 75 percent said they had been unfaithful with a partner in the real world. However, in contrast to sexting rates, age wasn’t a significant factor in participants’ reports of having extramarital affairs or affairs outside of an intimate partner. Researchers speculated that the opposite might be true – a person’s tendency to be unfaithful seems to escalate with age.
The study is also prompting researchers to look at how increased use of the Internet for sexual purposes is still encouraging people to seek real-world partners, even when the relationship begins online.