The sexual stimulation and release obtained through cybersex also contribute importantly to the continued pursuit of the activity, Dr. He wrote: "Intense orgasms from the minimal investment of a few keystrokes are powerfully reinforcing." He added, "Cybersex affords easy, inexpensive access to a myriad of ritualized encounters with idealized partners.

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Almost a third of the participants reported cybersexual experiences, and people in committed relationships were just as likely to engage in cybersex as those who were single. While men’s interest in cybersex decreased with age, women’s interest increased slightly, with 37 percent of women age 35 to 49 reporting cybersexual experiences compared with only a quarter of men in the same age group (, Vol. It found that of 183 adults who were currently or recently in a relationship, more than 10 percent had formed intimate online relationships, 8 percent had experienced cybersex and 6 percent had met their Internet partners in person (, Vol. Kimberly Young, Ph D, who directs the Center for Internet Addiction Recovery in Bradford, Pa., says about half of the couples in her practice are seeking counseling because of online affairs or excessive use of online pornography.

Young sees more women who are online cheaters, in part, she says, because women gravitate toward erotic chats and webcam sessions while men often are drawn to pornography.

Several mothers in her survey were worried because their husbands surfed the Net while supposedly watching their children, who got to view the pornography and sometimes the masturbation.

Children may also suffer as a result of increasing conflict between the parents or breakup of the marriage.

And even if the marriage survives, children may lack adequate parental attention when one parent is preoccupied with sex on the computer and the other is preoccupied with the cybersex addict.

Once unleashed, the power of a cyberaffair and/or cybersex can cause a formerly loving man to become evasive and to demand his privacy online, according to Dr. "This 'new frontier' in relationship dynamics can lead a once warm and compassionate wife and mother to turn to the computer and its cyberworld lovers and/or sex partners and away from caring for her children." As Dr."People who are vulnerable can get hooked before they know it." To those who say a behavioral compulsion is not a true addiction, Dr.Schneider responded with a definition of addiction that would clearly apply to cybersex abusers: "Loss of control, continuation of the behavior despite significant adverse consequences and preoccupation or obsession with obtaining the drug or pursuing the behavior." Although behavioral addictions involve no external drugs, preliminary research has suggested that they cause changes in brain chemicals, like the release of endorphins, that help to perpetuate the behavior.The growth in steamy chat room conversations and cybersex also has triggered a rethinking of the meaning of infidelity.If there is no physical contact or actual sex, is it still an affair?Women, who tend to pursue relationships, are inclined to visit sexually oriented chat rooms rather than the pornographic Web sites that men prefer, Dr. As women become increasingly hooked on online sex, they are more likely to progress to off-line meetings, which can prove dangerous.