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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.
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.
"Many of them said their wife was so involved in childrearing that she wasn't interested in having sex." Because there is no touching involved in online chat conversations, married people often rationalize their behavior as harmless fun, Mileham said.
Eighty-three percent of the study's participants said they did not consider themselves to be cheating, and the remaining 17 percent deemed it a "weak" form of infidelity that was easily justifiable, she said.
The study's participants, who represented every state, included stay-at-home mothers, construction workers, engineers, nurses and presidents of large corporations.
Of course, this is one of the analogues of chatroulette.
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.
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.
Let's learn a little more about this online service.