Virtual Sex: Threat to Real Intimacy?
The online sexual revolution may be having an impact on real-world relationships.
And then, of course, comes the question that's as old as the Internet -- is online sex cheating?
"When one person in a marriage is going to the Internet to get sex, it erodes the intimacy in the marriage," says Berman.
Does it also erode a person's sense of faithfulness?
"It's cheating if your spouse considers it cheating," says Berman. "It's hard to give a blanket definition of cheating, because it's based on the morals and beliefs of the marriage. But what matters is: does your spouse consider it cheating?"
For some, engaging in high-tech-relationship treason is just as unforgivable as the real thing. For others, maybe it can be overlooked.
"Whether any orgasm-seeking behavior outside the relationship constitutes cheating is up to a couple," says Weston. "And so each relationship defines it on their own terms. Some would say virtual sex is sexually arousing, so it is a failure to keep the agreement. Others would say if there isn't any physical contact, it's all fantasy and it doesn't bother me."
The New Sexual Revolution
The Internet is here to stay, and with it comes a new sexual era.
"One can almost say that there has been a technological sexual revolution," says Gurza. "With every new advent in technology, virtual sex evolves. With the increasing bandwidth and cheapness of procuring oneself with a webcam, it has added the dimension of video, which fundamentally alters virtual sex. In the past it was either completely auditory or written-word based."
Cell phones offer another choice to the world of virtual sex, adding a different dimension to "can you hear me now?"
"Cell phone text sex is also changing the rules, as it makes it transportable, and can be done from anywhere, not having to be confined in front of a desktop," Gurza tells WebMD. "It makes it much more immediate and getting down to the point, as text messaging is all concise communication."
As the technology evolves and continues to expand into our lives, so will the opportunity for virtual sex. The line between the virtual world and the real world, however, is drawn clearly in the sand.
"Virtual sex can be a great means of pleasuring, and a great precursor or additive to an already healthy person's sex life," says Gurza. "It is hoped however, that it will not replace or negatively affect an individual's propensity for real, sensory sexual pleasure."