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"We are hearing from therapists around the country reporting online sexual activity to be a major cause of marital problems," Cooper said.
"We need to better understand the contributing factors if we are going to be able to warn people about the slippery slope that starts with online flirting and too often ends in divorce." With the exception of two of the study's participants, all hid their online activities from their spouses, often "chatting" after their husbands or wives had gone to sleep, Mileham said.
Oh, what a tangled web is weaved as growing numbers of married women and men sneak into Internet chat rooms for romantic or sexual thrills, a University of Florida study finds."Never before has the dating world been so handy for married men and women looking for a fling," said Beatriz Avila Mileham, who conducted the research for her doctoral dissertation in counselor education at UF.
"With cybersex, there is no longer any need for secret trips to obscure motels.
Much of the Internet's appeal to married people is the anonymity it guarantees, coupled with the no-touching aspect, which they view as a license to be sexual, Mileham said.
One can reveal the most intimate emotional and sexual details to an unseen stranger at any time of the day or night, she said.
Many reported that what started as innocent, friendly exchanges progressed quickly to strong desires for sexual relationships, she said.
Twenty-six of the 86 study participants went on to meet the person whom they had been engaged in an online relationship with, and of these, all but two ended up having a real-life affair.
Al Cooper, a leading expert in the field of Internet sexuality and the author of the book "Sex and the Internet: A Guidebook for Clinicians," said Mileham's research is important in helping to understand this increasingly common phenomenon.
In the book they discuss the pros and cons of the different options facing them. With thousands of new apps and sites being created faster than we can download them, it’s hard to know where to start.
Even if you used to successfully online date, but have found yourself single again, it can be difficult to know exactly what sites you need to be surfing.
One 66-year-old man ended up having 13 affairs this way, she said.
Research shows that more males than females use chat rooms, said Mileham, who found it difficult to get women to respond to her survey.
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