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.
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.
Several participants indicated they divulged more about themselves to online partners than to their wives or husbands.
"We started chatting about life, our marriage, what we like to eat, what sexual positions we like the best," wrote one man to Mileham.
But we are here to address the questions of why this is the case, what evidence there is to support these studies and these trends, and to set out what makes Internet chat rooms different from other venues.
Joining me today are several individuals, all of whom either as public health officials, researchers, safe sex advocates or some combination thereof, have a particular interest and expertise in Internet chat room use among MSM. Frank has worked on men's sex and health issues for more than 15 years. He is assistant research psychologist and has studied and worked on a number of community-based interventions among gay men.The study's participants, who represented every state, included stay-at-home mothers, construction workers, engineers, nurses and presidents of large corporations.Some went online for a quick "sex fix," while others established more meaningful connections where they talked about personal problems and marital issues, Mileham said. Still others wanted to engage in cybersex, exchanging sexual fantasies with someone while masturbating, she said.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."I felt like I've known her in another life." Mileham believes the time has come for the Internet to become as essential a part of pre-marital discussions as is whether or not to have children.