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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.
An online liaison may even take place in the same room with one's spouse."In the words of one 41-year-old man in the study, "All I have to do is turn on my computer, and I have thousands of women to choose from.
(It) can't get any easier than that." Counseling organizations report chat rooms are the fastest-rising cause of relationship breakdowns, and the problem only stands to get worse as today's population of Internet users continues to grow, Mileham said."The Internet will soon become the most common form of infidelity, if it isn't already," she said.
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.
Other research has shown, however, that most spouses feel as betrayed, angry and hurt by online infidelity as they would if skin-to-skin adultery had taken place, she said.
The UF study found an escalating quality to these online contacts.
1 complaint from men was lack of sex in the marriage," Mileham said.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.The vast majority said they loved their spouses but sought an erotic encounter online because of boredom, a partner's lack of sexual interest or the need for variety and fun, Mileham said."I'm not going to cheat," wrote one married man.