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CYBER-AFFAIRS SURVEY: EARLY SURVEY ANSWERS

Kristin Levine

"Electronic sexual affairs may provide occasions for relationship outside the framework of conventional norms. It is true that it may allow crude behaviour, but also more genuine behaviour. The possibility of sex outside usual norms seems a kind of new frontier which awakes the spirit of pioneers." -- (anonymous reader)

SelfhelpMagazine readers have had a lot to say in response to the Cybersexual Affair survey. People are continuing to reply to the survey and results will be shared soon, but for now we thought you might be interested in what people are saying. All comments and survey results are anonymous to protect the confidentiality of the writers, but will be posted online as we see matches our needs. If you write, it will be assumed that you are giving full permission for your responses, but not your identity to be shared with the readership of SelfhelpMagazine in future articles. Thank you to those of you who sent your thoughts so that we can all take a look at this new phenomenon. Here are just a portion of the comments; stay tuned for the survey results!

At the end of the survey, we asked "is there anything else you would like to say about electronic sexual affairs?"

AND READERS ANSWERED...

Male
Errr...yes. I have found that I can explore my sexual fantasies on the internet. It is very interesting to read what other people have to say about a subject (fantasy) that is close to the heart. I find it also super that there is no face to face contact, and therefore no embarassment. I am a shy person, and have not had a sexual partner for a while (read ages).

Female
This is a serious threat to marriages, it has affected mine tremendously. I had no idea of what I was getting into and had no idea of the damage, esp since I never even had a desire to look at another person during my marriage of 18 years. Its addictive, I neglected my family. My husband wants to hear nothing about the good of internet, all is bad to him, its affected his sleep, but I have stopped 'chatting' matter of fact you are the first email I have done since Nov 95, and it is without my husband's consent or knowledge I write, it's just so important to get out the word of the damage that can be done. I would like to see your finished article and more on this subject of emotional adultry, as i have heard it called.

Male
I would certainly be interested in knowing more about how such a thing is done and what if any satisfaction (other than gratification) can come from this.

Male
I think there may eventually be a realization that some of the very lonely people out there will find this as another source of therapy.

Male
There might be a dangerous temptation to treat cybersex as a game - as if you were interacting with a piece of artificial intelligence software. In some cases maybe that *would* be the situation. When the realization comes that one is engaged in something not dissimilar to phone sex, then maybe this "reality check" could result in sudden feelings of guilt. Society has no pre-established mores about cybersex. These are early days, and a close eye should be kept on any emerging patterns and psychological problems associated with cybersex.

Male
Cybersex may fuel the imagination, and could perhaps enhance real sex, much in the way a Forum type magazine might. If a relationship were strong in the first place, a partner would not stray into those places on the internet where cybersex is found.

Female
CYBERSEX IS NOT A THREAT TO A SOLID RELATIONSHIP...IF A CYBERAFFAIR IS ENGAGED IN, THE RELATIONSHIP IS WEAK AT SOME CRITICAL POINT ANYWAY...

Male
I had a monogamous married relationship for almost 25 years when I subscribed to a computer service provider and discovered the Gay and Lesbian Community Forum and also the various gay and lesbian chat rooms. One thing led to another, exchanging male homoerotic gifs, meeting, having sex with other men at a local motel. So far, I have not fallen in love with any man. I am, however, worried that my wife will find out and that our marriage will be jeopardized.

Female
IMHO, those seeking such contact would do well to address the issue of what exactly it is they are trying to accomplish. It would seem that if they are already in a relationship, they should address what it is that they're not getting out of the relationship that compels them to this form of "entertainment." Not doing so is avoiding that "oh-so-scary" confrontation, hence not solving anything. If such activity is to find a relationship, I would guess that the individual is rather timid and lacking in confidence because they are opting for the distance and safety of cyberspace as opposed to "the real thing," up close, and personal. Again, my opinion, I think such games are somewhat dangerous because both the real rewards and the real consequences of a behavior are avoided. A false sense of security, as it were. To truly learn, grow, and "live" isn't it required that some part of our "real" self be involved? I hate to think that we've become such pansies as a species that all of the activities that should make us delight in being alive (adventure, human contact, sex, etc.) are being sought in the emotional void of cyberspace in place of venturing out into the much more threatening, if more rewarding space of the real world.

Male
Well, I think a lot has to do with both person's understanding of why they are having electronic sexual affairs. Is it merely a form of pleasure, similar to looking at magazines or movies? Or is it an implied suggestion of doing the real thing later on. For some it's a way to be with "partners" when they are too shy or otherwise unable to...or it can be, especially for males, a boasting point about how many "cybersex" experiences they've had. In my opinion, just like making love in "real life," if it's completely meaningless and done merely for the sake of one of the person's enjoyment only, I'd assume it'd be somewhat boring. But if both people want to do it and there's some "net chemistry" there....it could be magical too.

Female
I met a man on the net, we had cyber cuddling, phone sex, eventually met and married. He is one of the warmest people I have ever met. He has completely fullfilled me. I no longer have cyber affairs. I do have friends with whom I once had cybersex, but if they couldn't make the switch to platonic friendship, I let them go. I often see Ann Landers or Dear Abby writing about cyber affairs and how dangerous they are. I think that it wouldn't have been such a big deal if my emotional needs were being met with my (then) spouse. The lonely and the busy....90% of all computer addicts ::::laugh::::

Male
I feel that cyberspace relations can be very detrimental to relationships. When you have a cyberspace relationship you never see the bad things that occur in material relationships. It is too easy to compare your cyperspace person who seems perfect to an imperfect relationship that you would have face to face. IE you never can really tell if a cyperspace person has a bad temper or is annoying. All you see is type and not the personal emotions attached. I feel it may make a person compare relationships even when they are not even close to being comparable.

Female
My relationship was already in trouble when I found myself spiraling into a series of net affairs, but sexual and purely emotional. I was able to get emotional fufillment from the people that I met online. I think that if it had been for just a short amount of time, I would have gotten tired of the shallowness of it. As it was, I was drawn to the intimacy that these men were expressing that my (then) husband wouldn't/couldn't. I think that in the beginning I saw my net relationships as hope-inspiring. Later, they became a symbol that there were people in the rest of the world that were not as rejecting as my husband (and my family which had taught me to be happy with a cold, rejecting relationship). That these people could be entranced by my words and my thought made my ego grow strong. I was finding myself loveable and capable.

At first my affairs were fairly innocent, even the sexual ones, but when I started finding myself really desiring to meet these people and have actual physical affairs, I knew that what I really was wanting was physical validation of desireablity.

During my separation and into my divorce, I found cyber and phone sex to be relatively satisfying.

I had a non-cyber relationship for a year, but found the demands on my time to be excessive and the payback too small. I work in the type of job that sucks a hundred percent out of you.

Male
Electronic sexual affairs can take on different forms. The two individuals can 'dare' one another to do things, they can write fantasy stories together with varying levels of eroticism, etc. By the elecronic connection, one is protected from physical/health harm and from some kinds of emotional risks -- rejection based on appearance (when photos aren't exchanged, or even if they are!), inability or unwillingness to "perform," etc. It is easier to say "no" but once an affair gets going one does sometimes feel an obligation to "play along" for awhile. Because the relationship is based only on what is typed on a screen, in some ways it requires even more trust than a standard sexual affair because you are opening up a part of yourself -- private fantasies that may be difficult to communicate to a partner in-person.

Female
I believe that they are safer, especially because of the deadliness of sexually transmitted diseases, you are not endangering your partner with your extracurricular activities. I think that it is a healthier form of sexual expression and it allows people to try things that they normally wouldn't (i.e. homosexual sex, B & D, etc.).

Male
I would like to find a woman young, old, any race who would correspond with me via email to discuss sexual fantasies and the erotic situtations now missing from my life. This would provide me (a man in my early 50's) with a safe way to fantasize and remember the things I most enjoyed with real sex without having to physically "cheat" on my wife who has not had sex with me in over 3 years. She keeps saying "We're too old for that," while I still have sexual desires and needs. But since I am uncomfortable with the idea of looking for another woman to satisfy my needs physically, I can at least fantasize and self satisfy my sexual needs.

Obviously this is not the most satisfying approach...but at least it is safe in today's world. I guess I'm unusual as a man, since everyone seems to think that men's sexual desires and capabilities diminish with age...mine haven't. I'm healthy & sexually potent, but at least I can still enjoy fantasies.

A friend's wife had an excellent attitude...she always said; "When a woman stops looking at or fantasizing about men, she might as well be dead, but when a man stops looking at or fantasizing about women, HE IS DEAD!" As far as I know she has always remained monogamous, but you could always see the twinkle in her eye as she looked at her man or someone else attractive to her.

So, I guess I have to say in summary that Cybersex is good for some people, male or female, who need to enjoy their fantasies without damaging their relationships with others. Good, Clean, Safe Sex.

Male
There are always risks in relationships be they physical, email or otherwise. The risks in email are not the usual ones in every instance. There is no HIV or STDs or rape or similar. The other risks still apply. Except in unusual sets of circumstances, email relationships are viewed by a married partner the same as a "real" physical relationship. It's still considered cheating.

However, email cheating is easier to accomplish, less likely to be discovered and for the most part, much cheaper to accomplish. The downside is that email or chats or IRC "cybersex" is never really, *really* satisfying even in the short-term sense. On an intellectual level or on a in-the-gutter level, cybersex can be easy or hard, fast or slow, long-term or short-term.. but it can never be real. There's no touching to convey love... no kissing to convey emotion... no hugging to show one really cares. Cybersex can lead to real sex between the participants but more likely the the reality is that cybersex gets people steamed up enough to make real sex with real life partners more enjoyable... even if not ordinarily so. In my opinion, the REAL risk in email relationships is forgetting that the relationship is virtual. The real risk is to mental health and well-being... substituting virtual for reality.

Some of us use email to gain intellectual intimacy with others on different levels entirely and the sexual parts of a relationship may, or may not surface at all. I personally look to email relationships for discussions of various subjects on an equal level with mine that my real-life partner is incapable of; in intellect or interest. That is not to say that sexual innuendo or teasing or even discussions or stories or poetry hasn't happened more than once. ;+)

Male
I believe that anything people do to please another (sexually) is good. I have had 3 Email relationships, and I truly enjoyed my experiences.

Male
I find nothing wrong with it as long as there is some integrity involved. As in, not doing it behind a trusting partner's back. I think cybersex is a legitimate form of sexual release for people who may otherwise not be able to. It is discreet and safe.

Male
Iwould like to have the experience of a electronic cyber-sexual affair. I have come to realize that I enjoy the medium and am good at expressing my thoughts, feelings, and desires and I truly enjoy sharing myself others by words or in person. Any relationship seeks to be consummated in or by one form or another. Cybersex leaves the fantasy intact, but it is hard to fully complete the circle and never quite satiates one's soul. But that's life sometimes... One last thought: How to measure your life is to ask yourself "What have you learned and Whom have you Loved?"

Female
A cybersexual affair was a real wake-up call in my life. I had been married for 20 years, happily I thought, but was lonely in my life. I made friends on the net and rapidly found the sexual undercurrent to be intriguing. And it felt safe enough at first, but within a year I was having some of the most exciting sex I'd ever experienced. It really is true what they say about the mind being the most powerful sex organ. My husband said he didn't mind as long as it stayed on the net, but he had no idea (neither did I in the beginning) that it was any different than reading a playboy/girl. I had only two e-sex partners and one was just like having bad sex in real life: self-centered on his part and not very exciting and I found myself faking an orgasm over the computer and thought I had totally lost my mind. My other partner, though, met my deepest fantasies in spades and it progressed to phone sex, although we never met.

So what do I think of cybersexual affairs? I know it's real sex. Just like you can have physical sex with an absent partner (mentally) you can have mental sex with an absent physical partner. And I have no doubts about which is sexier. Are they dangerous? Yes. They are real emotional affairs, although it took me risking my marriage to realize this was no game I was in. This could hurt people. So I stopped my two year on-line relationship with my e-lover and it felt like someone died but I couldn't even show my pain to my family or friends because it was so secret. The secret stuff is the destroyer of partnerships - you split into another life when you hide a part of your life from your partner. I learned I am capable of loving more than one person, but that I can't live that way. I also learned that there were things in my marriage that I needed badly and didn't know it till I experienced them elsewhere. All of this was learning and it helped my marriage in the long run.

Sexual affairs are sexual affairs are sexual affairs. We can learn from them (heck, I'd never had any partner except my husband in my life before this!) and we can be hurt by them. I guess it's safer than having a physical affair in some ways. I can still say I've only slept with one man. But I have certainly been made love to by others. Is it bad? Heck no. I would have maybe had a physical affair without it. Is it good? It's another chance to learn about oneself in relationships with others. But a deceptive one because it is not as safe as it appears.

Male
Cybersex is a major threat to the primary relationship. It can serve only to weaken the real relationship. I am writing a book on the subject and am in the research stage now. My primary goal in writing this book is to blow the entire subject out of the closet and onto every TV screen and talk show in the country. Think I've had some experience with this? Yes you are right. Right now my "wife" is getting ready to go to a "party." I'm going with her. There will be several of her cybersex partners there and I am not supposed to know. All I am supposed to know is that they are new friends she has met through the net. Well I was involved with the net before it was fashionable to have an email address so I know. Anyway there is my comment, negative as it may seem.

Click here to view Opinions in Favor of Cyber-affairs!!

Click here to view Opinions Opposed to Cyber-affairs!!

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