With the burgeoning use of the Internet, many practitioners are seeing more couples because of online affairs and are addressing new issues in therapy, psychologists say.“It starts in the home, which is very different than most affairs.Several studies have focused on the “AAA engine” that drives online affairs, namely accessibility, affordability and anonymity.“The Internet is extremely accessible no matter where you are,” Hertlein says.While men traditionally have been the more unfaithful sex, gender roles are reversing in some cases as more women experience cybersex.“I think there is this bias that women don’t cheat for sexual reasons at all,” Hertlein says.
While TV viewing has remained fairly constant, time spent surfing the Web has increased more than 120 percent over the last five years.
Therapy can be more complicated if the cheating partner doesn’t believe his or her online activities qualify as an affair, Ducharme says.
“The excuses are, ‘I didn’t have sex with this person.
Every time you walk by, you’re asking yourself if he or she is using it for an affair.” While most relationships are hampered by such workday realities as household chores and paying the bills, online relationships exist in an electronic nether world where strangers can construct their own identities, Hertlein says.
“On the Internet, you can be whoever you want to be. You don’t have to be this constrained person you think you should be.” Fantasy also is a huge factor in online affairs, and fantasy always trumps reality.