Infidelity - Infidelity and The Internet

Infidelity and The Internet

The rise of the internet and technology in general provide new challenges for modern couples. According to the Global Internet Statistics in 2003, internet population around the world has grown exceptionally fast in less than a decade, rising from 16 million users in 1995 to approximately 680 million in late 2003. Millions of such users are married individuals who use the Internet to meet strangers, flirt, and many times engage in highly sexualized conversations.

Research on internet infidelity is a relatively new field of interest. It is difficult to classify any type of sexual interaction via the internet as infidelity because it lacks the physical aspect. In their book, "The Philosophy of Sex", Alan Soble and Nicholas Power speculate about the internet, infidelity and culture, "According to the dominant account in our culture, the paradigm case of what counts as sex is heterosexual intercourse, where a man and women engage in a particularly intimate form of physical contact, in which a penis penetrates a vagina. This case is paradigmatic in that it organizes social judgments about which other activities count as sexual, and also connects to dominant views about what sex is normal, natural and good."

In an attempt to differentiate offline and online infidelity, Cooper, Morahan-Martin, Mathy, and Maheu constructed a "Triple A Engine", which identifies the three aspects of internet infidelity that distinguish it, to some degree, from traditional infidelity:

  1. Accessibility: the more access one has to the Internet, the more likely they will engage in infidelity
  2. Affordability: the monetary cost of being able to access the internet continues to drop, and for a small price, a user can visit many sites, and meet multiple potential sexual needs
  3. Anonymity: the internet allows users to masquerade as someone else, or hide their identity altogether.

A study done by Hinke A. K. Groothof, Pieternel Dijkstra and Dick P. H. Barelds called "Sex Differences in Jealousy: The Case of Internet Infidelity" explores the differences between consequences of online infidelity versus offline, and the processes that underlie it, for both partners and/or the relationship. It also examines consistency among sex differences and jealousy in relation to the type of infidelity. The study utilized a sample of 335 Dutch undergraduate students involved in serious intimate relationships. The participants were presented with four dilemmas concerning a partner’s emotional and sexual infidelity over the internet.
They found a significant sex difference as to whether participants chose sexual and emotional infidelity as more upsetting.
More men than women indicated that a partner’s sexual involvement would upset them more than a partner’s emotional bonding with someone else.
Similarly, in the dilemma involving infidelity over the internet, more men indicated their partner’s sexual involvement would upset them more than a partner’s emotional bonding with someone else. Women on the other hand expressed more problems with emotional infidelity over the internet than did men.

Online infidelity can be just as damaging to a relationship as offline physical unfaithfulness. A possible explanation is that our brain registers virtual and physical acts the same way and responds similarly. Several studies have concluded that online infidelity, whether sexual or emotional in nature, often leads to off-line infidelity.

Read more about this topic:  Infidelity

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Famous quotes containing the word infidelity:

    It is necessary to the happiness of man that he be mentally faithful to himself. Infidelity does not consist in believing, or in disbelieving; it consists in professing to believe what he does not believe.
    Thomas Paine (1737–1809)