Cybersex and Online Addiction

It’s hard not to get interested in the Internet and online dating. Used wisely, the Internet is a wonderful place to learn about people, explore new relationships, and reach out for social interaction in a reasonably safe, often protected environment.

But for some, interest turns into obsession and obsession turns into addiction, with negative impacts on real-life responsibilities and real-life relationships. An addiction to illicit Internet relationships is strikingly similar to an addiction to drugs and sex:

  • Addictions revolve around fantasy
  • Addictions can rob a marriage of the spouse’s attention
  • Addictions drain energy from a healthy relationship
  • Addictions kill honest communication
  • Addictions are based on deception
  • Addictions escalate — in frequency, intensity and duration

A Cybersex addict will…

  • Spend more and more time online focused on sexual or romantic involvement
  • Engage with sexual or romantic partners met online, while being involved in marital or other primary relationship
  • Become involved in multiple romantic or sexual relationships in chat rooms
  • Consider online sexual or romantic “affairs” exempt from spousal/partnership commitments
  • Engage in fantasy online acts or experiences that are immoral or illegal (rape, child molestation)
  • Be unable to cut down on the frequency of online sexual and romantic interaction
  • Become angry or extremely irritable when asked to give up online involvement to engage in real life relationships
  • Allow Internet use to jeopardize work (tired due to excessive computer use, going online at the office, etc.)
  • Allow Internet use to interfere with primary relationships
  • Allow Internet fantasy life to replace social or family interactive time in real life

Online addictions and the affairs they generate mirror real-life extramarital affairs: People engaged in Internet affairs are attempting to satisfy needs that are not being met by their marriage partners. It’s generally agreed that a person who has an online affair was looking to stray.

The difference is that the Internet provides many, many, MANY opportunities for people to have a so-called “safe” affair … “safe” because it’s not happening in the “real world,” just the cyber-world. This misconception (or self denial) can be poison to a marriage. The betrayal a spouse feels when a husband or wife “cheats” by sharing intimate conversation or sexually explicit messages on the Internet is the same as if the spouse were engaged in an affair in real-life.

Addict-Friendly Technology
To make matters worse, the Internet and computer technology are eerily conducive to generating addictive behavior. Users may pursue their “addicition” easily, in private, and often for very little cost. Adult websites, dating sites, and sexually explicit chat rooms offer colorful visuals and alluring interactivity that keep people “hooked” without even realizing it … until their marriage is in jeopardy.

 

 

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