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With the burgeoning use of the Internet, many practitioners are seeing more couples because of online affairs and are addressing new issues in therapy, psychologists say.
“It starts in the home, which is very different than most affairs.
Women usually feel more threatened by the emotional betrayal of a partner’s online affair, while men are more concerned about physical encounters, Hertlein says, but the gender differences are lessening.
“That is starting to even out in part because of the equality of opportunity that the Internet brings to everybody,” she says.
It starts right under your roof,” says Elaine Ducharme, Ph D, a psychologist in Glastonbury, Conn., who specializes in cybersex addictions.
“You can’t usually get rid of your computer in the house.
“It’s really difficult to track what your partner is doing,” Hertlein says.
“I think there is this bias that women don’t cheat for sexual reasons at all,” Hertlein says.
The typical affair used to start in the office and move to a seedy motel room, but the vast reach of the Internet has brought infidelity into many couples’ homes over the past decade.
The growth in steamy chat room conversations and cybersex also has triggered a rethinking of the meaning of infidelity.
Every time you walk by, you’re asking yourself if he or she is using it for an affair.” While most relationships are hampered by such workday realities as household chores and paying the bills, online relationships exist in an electronic nether world where strangers can construct their own identities, Hertlein says.
“On the Internet, you can be whoever you want to be. You don’t have to be this constrained person you think you should be.” Fantasy also is a huge factor in online affairs, and fantasy always trumps reality.