A cover letter was sent to therapists who treat sex addicts, this time asking them to invite clients who were cybersex participants to e-mail me to obtain a brief online survey. The query was also posted on websites aimed at people who were seeking help for their cybersex problems, and these websites generated additional subjects.
I believe that most of the responses came room the latter source. The survey questions are listed in Table 1. Because e-mail does not generally allow for anonymity, as a return address is automatically attached, respondents were given the option of returning the survey to me via regular mail after cutting out any identifying information. Only 2 out of the 55 cybersex users chose to reply via regular mail.
Months later I was still able to contact some of the respondents using the e-mail address they had provided. As in my online survey Schneider,most recipients did not seem concerned about anonymity, in some cases perhaps because of the illusion that the computer is an anonymous medium of communication. Note on Terminology: This survey of cybersex users did not attempt to formally diagnose sex addiction.
Most respondents self-identified as sex addicts. Any addictive disorder comprises loss of control cbersex. By their own estimation, most of xve respondents fulfilled these criteria osaasco did indeed have an addictive sexual disorder. However, this study was not deed to ascertain this.
Therefore, use of the term "cybersex addict" in this article is informal and should not be construed as a definitive medical diagnosis. Demographics Responses were obtained from 55 persons, 45 men and 10 women. The replies were obtained over a month period between July and August The mean age of the respondents was The mean age of the 45 men was The of women was too small to assess whether indeed older women are less likely than older men to be cybersex users.
Of the entire group, Among the men, For those respondents who were in a committed or marital relationship at the time of the survey, the of years in their present relationship averaged The men reported a mean of That is, the 6 married women in the group reported a longer average duration of their marriage than did the married or committed men. Sexual Activities When asked about the nature of their online sexual activities, 35 of the 45 men Several male respondents reported assuming the identity of young teenagers in order to attract that age.
Compared with men, the women clearly preferred chats to viewing pornography. When asked whether their online sexual activities had led to real-life sexual encounters, 15 of the 45 men Sexual Addiction In reply to the question, "Do you consider yourself a sex addict? They described a long history of compulsive masturbation, use of pornography primarily the men and other behaviors which, along with their more recent cybersex use, led them to self-diagnose as sex addicts.
A couple of people said they had been sexually addicted, but now that they had conquered the addiction they no longer termed themselves addicts. Several respondents commented that only after their cybersex use had caused them ificant consequences did they, in reviewing their life, realize that sex had been a long-standing compulsion antedating their involvement with the Internet. A year old man with a long history of cybersex involvement centered on fetish fashion and pornographic images of group sex, lesbian sex, and fetishes, wrote, "Cybersex is only one aspect of my sex addiction.
I used that route because it was easy to access and easy to hide. It was also too easy to lose track of time. It consumed my thoughts much of the time I was awake. My cybersex addiction skyrocketed immediately and continued unchecked until one year later, when my wife found a bookmarked site. Emotionally I was in a daze for that whole year of being online. I was occasionally available to support my wife but I seemed always to be thinking about the next time I could get online, and when was my next day off that would have my wife be at work.
Our relationship became ificantly strained. My wife said she felt extremely alone during cybersex chat room ave 15 osasco period. A married year old man had no history of compulsive sexual behaviors until he got hooked on the Internet 5 years ly. He wrote, Instead of spending time with my family, I ran home and went on the computer. I had no time for sex with my wife. Eventually I got arrested for sending porn to a minor, who was in fact a police officer.
I lost my job, articles were in all the papers, and I was on TV. I lost friends. Addictive disorders tend to have their onset in adolescence or young adulthood, but these cases, especially the second one, illustrate that cybersex addiction can arise even in later years. For those with a prior history of compulsive sexual behaviors, the Internet can escalate their addiction and the unmanageability of their lives. A 33 year old man, married for 3 years, had been involved in cybersex since the early days of the computer, long before his marriage.
On the Internet, he favored fantasy and masturbation while reading explicitly sexual stories online. After 3 years of marriage and one child, he met someone else in a sexually-oriented chat room, left his wife, and became engaged to his new partner. Now in step recovery, he writes, Cybersex addiction twists the mind. Slowly or quickly it will cause objectification, fantasy, and loss of intimacy in real relationships. When contacted again one year later, this man wrote, "Part of my recovery now is trying to see what part of the wreckage of my past I am still responsible for trying to correct.
Now I get turned on by some of it anal sex, women peeing, etc. The sheer quantity of porn on the Net has done this. I used to only be into softcore porn showing the beauty of the female form. A 35 year old woman, married since her teens, related a long history of compulsive masturbation. However, her life spun out of control only after she accidentally came upon a pornography site on the Internet: I stumbled across a porn site by typing in a business address wrong.
I went back out of curiosity. Within a matter of days I was doing it on a daily basis; within a matter of weeks, that is all I did. It literally took control and consumed my life. I went from ing all the free stuff, to anything I could to feed my addiction. I began to lie to my husband about working overtime just so I could continue to feed it.
I lost my mind in such a short time that I could not function at work or at home. The pictures I placed before me would haunt me day and night. I became very withdrawn and depressed. Cybersex will take a person down a road they never dreamed they would go. It sucks them into it and [there is] hell is to pay to get out. A year old man, divorced after a year marriage, was a sex addict long before he discovered the Internet. In my experience, cybersex addiction comes from the ease at which a person who already has a sex addiction problem can access anything and everything sexual that one can imagine.
There is almost total safety, as no one will see you there. When I reconnected I was hooked within 2 weeks and have been fighting it ever since. Respondents who had a prior history of compulsive sexual behaviors reported a rapid escalation of their sex addiction when they discovered online sex. Their experience is analogous to that of drug addicts who begin to use crack cocaine and find themselves suddenly out of control. A married man, 64, in recovery many years primarily from the use of prostitutes and sexual massage parlors, relapsed several times once he discovered Internet pornography.
When all alone, within my own home, with little chance of being discovered, with little or no cost involved, when I am hungry-anxious-lonely-tired, it is so easy to just "click" into that life-long fantasyland. A 45 year old married man who masturbated while looking at pictures of nude women online wrote, Emotionally I felt guilt and shame. This led to isolation and loneliness. This was a part of my life I could not did not want to share with my partner.
It drove a wedge between us. I felt depressed at times because I felt I was trapped and would never be able to break free from this obsession. It was scary. I would spend on the average 3 hours a day at work behind my closed door cybering and masturbating. I would sit there at work masturbating as secretaries were knocking on my door. I once got called to court during a cybersex encounter just as I was ejaculating.
I was flushed and sweaty, but did that stop me, NO!!! A year old man who worked in a hospital: I am an extremely punctual person, getting to work well ahead of when I actually need to be there. I never missed work because of Internet surfing, but I did on occasion cut it very close and find myself driving very very fast, sometimes dangerously, to get to work. A 46 year old married man wrote, I used office time and resources and was caught.
I was nearly fired, and may yet be terminated for the offense. Married man, I had totally turned off my emotions and was unavailable to my family. My sexual relationship was all about using and objectifying my wife. I used sex, any form, to detach from my feelings. She stated on many occasions that after sex she felt empty, unfulfilled, and used.
He and his wife had sex only about once every weeks. A year old man, divorced, now in a relationship: "I would rather look at porn than be with my girlfriend. Sometimes I resent her presence as it keeps me away from the Net. I really have no limit to what I want to do, so I push the limits of what my girlfriend wants to do. Female cybersex romance addicts Women who engage in cybersex activities are relatively more likely than men to participate in chat rooms, in which there are "live" conversations, and less likely to view and download pornography.
Several female survey respondents reported favoring chat rooms, where they met men for cybersex. For most of the women, these online activities led to face-to-face meetings. A year old woman, in a long-term marriage, wrote of spending over two years looking for romance on the Internet. In some cases she then met the men at hotels for sex. You quickly become freer with your words, then when you do meet them sex is all you have in mind.
Actually, having a meaningful relationship seems impossible for me. I start to get attached emotionally and it scares men off; they just want free sex. I want to be accepted and loved by someone who will be my "knight in shining armor," sorta. I know that is not really going to happen, but I keep looking anyway. I goof off at work by talking to men via the Internet. I keep imagining that one day one of these men will really love me. I ignore my family to talk online when they need me. It was easier to be happy with him before I found there is "life" out there.
I know right from wrong, but I have chosen to do wrong at this point. Several months later, she wrote that she was still in counseling, still having sex with several partners, and had recently been diagnosed with a sexually-transmitted disease. Although she could write logically about the effects of her actions on herself and her cybersex chat room ave 15 osasco, she was continuing her Jekyll-and-Hyde existence and remained insufficiently motivated to take advantage of the available help.
A year old woman, married since her teens, wrote, I was involved with masturbation and fetishes since I was a young teenager. I engaged in sexual activities online for 10 years. But sooner or later they too would hurt me, by avoiding me or breaking it off. My relationship with my spouse was bad, but this made it times worse. She and her husband are now going to therapy. Regarding the effect of cybersex on her marriage, she relates, I have learned that giving any part of myself away to another was taking away that part from my spouse.
If I had spent the time and energy on my marriage instead of online, we would have grown together rather than apart. Hooked on visual images Although women usually favor relational activities over straight pornography, some women cybersex addicts do get hooked on visual images. Two women in the survey wrote about this. One, a married year old woman, became quickly hooked on fetishistic images on the Internet. She explained, "Most of my life I have been stimulated most by touching.
It was strange how pictures could stimulate a woman as much as it did me. The pictures I placed before my eyes would haunt me day and night. Her sexual relationship was adversely affected. I wanted what I saw in the videos and pictures, and was too embarrassed to ask him for it. She relates having been freed of her obsessions through the help of God along with the support of her husband, pastor, and therapist.
There are women out there like myself who are aroused visually like men and have some characteristics that more closely follow that typical male sex addiction. Progression of the addiction One of the female survey respondents described a rapid progression of her computer involvement, which began with a business e-mail correspondence and ended with major changes in her life and lifestyle.
A year old married woman with no reported history of compulsive sexual behaviors, she began e-mailing a man through her work. Their professional e-mail exchanges soon became personal. There was no discussion of love or romance, but their e-mails soon became the highlight of her day. She wrote, "This progressed and escalated in the content of the s, IM [instant messaging, an AOL service], and led to phone calls.
She stopped working, stopped interacting with her children unless she had to, and began having more frequent, aggressive sex with her husband. But I found it necessary to have another source, an outlet. So I ventured into chat room. I have become a presence in the BDSM community. I was molested by a pedophile as. Three months later she wrote, In retrospect, my life was so damn normal, straight, vanilla, with such high integrity.
Now I have a Dom. You take it into your life. She is considering meeting her Dom face-to-face. Her husband recently asked for a legal separation. She is not ready to stop her activities or leave the bondage and discipline, sadomasochism BDSM community she now feels a part of. Her priorities have shifted to where her online sexual activities appear to be more important to her than her marriage. I was definitely addicted to him both romantically and sexually. Then one night about three years ago I had a very sexual dream and woke up very horny.
All day I could think of nothing but getting to one of those sexual chat rooms. A guy instant-messaged me a very explicit message and I responded. We had cybersex, and I quickly climaxed. Later that evening he contacted me again, and I eventually agreed to let him call me. I was consumed with lust.
This went on for four months. If I had felt sexy enough I rooom have met him. I wanted to be the only one he wanted, although I knew he was with many others. During this time I stopped going to church, I isolated myself, I lied, I worried, I spent a lot of time covering my tracks. One morning my teenage son overheard me having phone sex.
This woke me up. When I decided to stop, I was so depressed I was nearly suicidal. The guilt, shame, and self-condemnation I felt were unbearable. I tried various counselors, but what really helped me stop was reading the Bible daily. After two years I found a counselor who could help me heal from the shame and who understands sex addiction. For more than 20 years, this woman experienced lengthy time periods of no sexual activity, alternating with brief periods of compulsive sexual activity.
Her sex life went from one extreme to another.
Female Recreational cybersex participants Two of the 10 women ace responded to the survey did not self-identify as sex addicts. One was a year old mother of several children, married many years, who wrote in support of her cybersex activities. These consisted of. There is heavy denial on his part of my sexual preferences. He often offers to find a woman for us to play with together, but he has not done so.
I am depressed and angry. We sleep apart and have had minimal sexual contact for months. For me, the extramarital sex is not about intercourse, but about alternative practices that he is not interested in being part of. My other relationships truly do not affect my marriage and the children unless he makes an issue of it.
I was not happy before I found the people I found via the Internet. I know there are components of addictive behavior in my actions. Is the willingness to leave my husband and my present lifestyle to be with a more supportive community and partners the hallmark of addiction, or simply the admission that I am not, nor am I willing to be, the cybfrsex I tried to be for the time I have been with my husband?
My relationships are safe, sane, and consensual interactions between intelligent, successful adults who recognize that there is more to sexuality than mainstream, Judeo-Christian marital interaction. One year later, this woman was still with her husband, cyersex they were now consistently sleeping apart. Her activities now included a younger man who was her "primary submissive. This woman did not appear to recognize the discrepancy between her statement that her other relationships do not affect her marriage, and her statement that her husband was devastated, they have become distant and sleep apart, and that she is depressed and angry.
The stresses she and her husband are experiencing and the instability of their relationship make it likely that she will soon have to choose between cybesrex new lifestyle and her marriage. The second woman who reported enjoying her cybersex activities was 18 years old and single. She described her online sexual activities as "just talking dirty until I made someone get off and then I went upstairs chhat masturbated.
She said, "I consider myself addicted to masturbating, thinking about sex, doing sexual things with men, and always permanently horny. If she is still strongly drawn to cybersex activities, she may decide that she is isasco addicted. Male recreational cybersex participants Because this survey was offered online at websites aimed at people experiencing problems with their cybersex use, it is not surprising xybersex few respondents claimed to be recreational users.
All the cybersex chat room ave 15 osasco of this survey recognized some adverse consequences, but some clearly believed that the benefits of cybersex outweighed the costs: A toom old single man, quoted earlier, identified himself as a sex addict and bemoaned the tendency of cybersex use to desensitize the user to offensive pornography. He said that although he was "horny all the time," he was trying to spend less time on the Internet. However, I found a cybergal in England I chat with who is multiorgasmic and keeps up with me.
A year old gay man who identified himself as a sex addict, wrote about the isolation, loss of productivity, and his unavailability osaxco real relationships which resulted from his compulsive use of pornography, phone sex, and promiscuous sex cyybersex partners originally met rom. He began attending a sex addiction meeting and abstained from cybersex for some weeks.
However, four months later he wrote that he had d all his sexual activities, despite continued attendance at step meetings. I truly find that the chat room is perhaps the most satisfying source I have found for making social contact with gay men in my area, where the gay community is not especially visible. However, requests for social and sexual contact are intermixed and it is very easy for 155 to do both at once or go entirely into sex mode.
For gays and lesbians in small communities, the Internet may be the most efficient way to make social as well as sexual contacts. Additionally, Cooper et al. They concluded that homosexuals and bisexuals use the Internet more often than heterosexuals for experimentation and the expression of a variety of sexual oaasco. The Internet also provides a venue for those who would otherwise be concerned about a host of negative repercussions to engage osasck freely in sexual pursuits.
He used the computer primarily to find women with whom to have phone sex and real-life sex. He explained, I cjbersex a tremendous sex drive, but it has to be women that are fit xhat very attractive to me.
The thing that I like the most is new women and a variety of women. One of the things that has kept my s down is that I am so cybersrx. Since I have a hard time finding anyone, I spend hours looking for women who fit my criteria. My girlfriend is totally okay with me being with other women, even encouraging me in this. She thinks I am great at sex and need a variety of women. She says I should only be shared with other women who are indeed worthy her words. She has gained a lot of weight, and I have less sex with her now, but Dybersex would never leave her.
I read a book on sex addiction, and planned on attending a step meeting. I thought it would help me in some way not be so preoccupied with sex. But my girlfriend was totally against it.
It is difficult from the limited information given, to determine whether this respondent is indeed concerned with the adverse consequences of his sexual preoccupation, or whether he is proud and pleased with his sexual prowess. It is also difficult to determine whether his girlfriend is encouraging his extra-relationship sexual activities out of concern that he may otherwise leave her, or whether indeed she is okay with those activities.
What helps in recovery: Having self-identified as sex addicts, many of the respondents reported that what has helped them is attending Step sex chaat meetings, daily contact with a Step sponsor, doing individual and couple counseling, and initially a day abstinence plan. Ideally, the spouse too was attending a Step co-sex addict program and doing individual and couple counseling.
A married man, 34, did a lot of "chatting," some of which progressed to phone sex. The moment I diagnosed myself as an online sex addict, it stopped being difficult to abstain. I came up with some safety mechanisms but only had to use them a few times. Just getting out of the cybdrsex and going to a movie helped. It did "waste" a few hours of my day, but that seemed better than potentially spending an entire day online.
I still spend far too much time online, but none of that time is devoted to sexual activity. Married man, In the past, I never made it past 10 days before I would at least start masturbating. Once I started that, I got the urge to go back on the Internet, and soon thereafter I chbersex.
I am also keeping foom journal of my progress, feelings, and emotions. I attend an SA [Sexaholics Anonymous] meeting weekly. This gives me strength and allows me to be open with he [my wife]. At first, this was difficult to do because I felt so much shame and embarrassment. Cyebrsex more I do this, the cyberrsex it gets.
Single woman, When I began to come out of the "fog," I first had to deal with the phone calls from men calling at all times for more. However, his urge was so powerful, and his habit so strong, he was soon back masturbating on-line--only now he was doing it at work! Since he had a private office, he was able to get away with it for a while. But, soon his interest in his work waned and his job performance deteriorated.
Later, he was fired.
His partner, finding out about the deceit, gave him an ultimatum to go into therapy, or end their relationship. The Consequences of Addictive Behavior The social consequences of an addiction are great, whether the addiction is to a substance or to on-line porn or chat-room sex. Emotionally, an obsessive or compulsive individual feels hopeless and despairing. They realize they are trapped between their feelings of guilt and shame and their powerful drive to indulge their on-line sexual addiction.
But underlying their compulsion is another strong desire, the desire to regain control of their lives. It may be advisable for you to have your situation evaluated further by a professional therapist or counselor. Do you visit porn sites or sex-oriented chat rooms more than 5 times a week? Do you use your computer at work to access porn sites during the day?
Do you ever feel guilty, or ashamed of your on-line sexual activities? Do you keep your cybersex a secret from your mate or partner? Have you ever masturbated while watching Internet porn? Do you frequently erase your computer files to conceal your cybersex activity? Have you tried to cut down on the time you spend at sex-related sites?
Have you been successful at cutting down the hours you spend on the Internet for sex?
Do you feel anxious or upset when you are not able to access sex on-line? Do you worry that someone you know will discover your on-line sexual activities? Does it seem to you that your sex chat room friends are more ificant to you than your regular friends or family? Does the time your spend on-line for sex, sometimes interfere with, or distract you from, your real life activities or responsibilities? Has a chat-room relationship ever progressed to phone sex, or sex in person with that individual?
Have you purchase sex-oriented materials or products on-line? Do you very much look forward to your Internet sex activities? Although this questionnaire may be an important first step to getting your cybersex behavior under control, it is not an absolute accurate measure of a cybersexual problem. Getting Help for Cybersex Addiction I would advise anyone who is uncomfortable or concerned about their on-line sexual activities to seek further evaluation by a professional counselor or therapist.
You can find one on the Internet or through a ace service in your area. For some people, any addictive behavior can be a symptom of an emotional or psychological problem. Individuals with unresolved pain or trauma from childhood events often exhibit problem behavior such as substance abuse, compulsive-obsessive behaviors or sex addiction.
The good news is that effective, relatively short-term therapies are available. If you have been distressed about your on-line sexual behavior, and believe that you have made numerous, sincere attempts to change your behavior without success, you may benefit from seeking professional counseling. The earlier you take action to get help, the sooner the problem will be addressed and corrected.
There are step programs available for sex addiction. Their website is www. Many people find this type of program very helpful. Other options are traditional psychotherapy that delves into childhood experiences and trauma, in order to discover the root cause or causes of the problem behavior. A relatively new therapy chta is highly effective for fear-based problem behaviors and addiction is EMDR, or Eye Movement Desensitizing and Reprocessing.