Relationships from a Distance: Cybersex
Internet sex, otherwise known as cybersex, is any sexual activity conducted via the Internet. Is cybersex automatically addictive? It can be. Approximately 8 to 10 percent of individuals who engage in cybersex become addicted.
Cybersex includes viewing pornography, reading and writing sexually explicit material, e-mailing to set up meetings with the intent of a sexual encounter, advertising to meet sexual partners, participating in sex-themed chat rooms, and engaging in interactive online affairs. Electronic cameras are frequently attached to the computer so that real-time viewing of another engaged in sexual activity is possible.
Masturbation frequently accompanies Internet sexual viewing. It has been estimated that as much as 60 percent of visits to the Internet have a sexual component. Many of the sexual acts engaged in online would be illegal if carried out in real life.
How can one determine if cybersex has become an addiction? Check out these signs:
A cybersex addict spends excessive amounts of time online involved in sexual behaviors.
As with other addictions, there will have been failed attempts to stop the behavior.
An addict will become very frustrated or angry when asked to give up his online sexual involvements.
Use of the Internet for sexual purposes interferes with an addict's work, school, or family time.
An addict will become secretive and lie about his online sexual activity.
Involvement in online affairs negatively affects a real-life relationship or marriage.
An addict will increasingly limit his sexual activity to the Internet, avoiding real-life relationships altogether.
Unsupervised children and adolescents may gain access to Internet pornography and cybersex that can be damaging to their mental, emotional, and sexual health. Additionally, the Internet has become a hunting ground for sexual predators who may lie and deceive their way into gaining access to unsuspecting, innocent children and adolescents. Monitor and protect your children!
All of the triggers and reinforcements that love and sex addicts experience in real life can be experienced by cybersex addicts as well. However, cybersex attracts people who would never consider aberrant or harmful sexual activity without the anonymity of the Internet. Many delude themselves into thinking that they avoid many of the risks of real-life sex, such as the physical risks of sexually transmitted diseases or assault.
But other risks are quite present. A person may lose her job if caught engaging in cybersex on work time. Marriages and real-life relationships may be damaged when partners discover the cybersex and feel betrayed. If a cybersex addict is engaging in online sexual behaviors with minors, arrest and imprisonment are real-life possibilities.
Psychotherapy and support groups can help. Recovery is always possible, but it takes the courage to admit to the problem and commitment to getting help.