The Internet has made the act of infidelity much easier and though sex and infidelity are now only a keyboard away, the goal for many seems to remain physical, face-to-face contact, at least in sexual relationships. Obviously plenty of people lie or try to initiate cyber-relationships with no interest in actual human contact.
A new study by Diane Kholos Wysocki from the University of Nebraska at Kearney and Cheryl Childers from Washburn University investigated the behaviors of infidelity on the Internet and sexting - sending sexually explicit text messages and photographs via email or cell phone.
The increased availability of computers, video camera and cell phones has had a significant impact on society, including the sexual aspects of our lives. These days, the authors contend, the Internet is where the majority of people go to find sex partners.
In order to explore both sexting and infidelity and understand how people use the internet to find sexual partners, Kholos Wysocki and Childers placed a survey on a website called AshleyMadison.com, which is geared toward married people looking for sexual partners outside their marriage. A total of 5,187 adults answered questions about Internet use, sexual behaviors, and feelings about sexual behaviors on the Internet. The authors were particularly interested in aspects of sexting, cheating online and cheating in real life.
The survey posted on that 'infidelity' website revealed the following results; Women were more likely than men to engage in sexting behaviors, over two-thirds of the respondents had cheated online while in a serious relationship and over three-quarters had cheated in real life. Women and men were just as likely to have cheated both online and in real life while in a serious real-life relationship. In addition, older men were more likely than younger men to cheat in real life.
In particular, Kholos Wysocki and Childers found that respondents were more interested in finding real-life partners, both for dating and for sexual encounters, than online-only partners.
The authors conclude: "Our research suggests that as technology changes, the way people find each other and the way they attract a potential partner also changes. While social networking sites are increasingly being used for social contact, people continue to be more interested in real-life partners, rather than online partners. It seems that, at some point in a relationship, we need the physical, face-to-face contact. Part of the reason for this may be that, ultimately, humans are social creatures."
Their findings are published Sexuality&Culture.