Cybersex: Is It an Affair or Harmless Fun? Here is What It Depends On
Jennifer Berman, MD
You’ve discovered your boyfriend or husband reading “Playboy” or something wilder. You’ve accidentally stumbled upon porn web sites that he’s recently visited. His email is suddenly filled with messages from unknown women and solicitations for pornography. Should you be worried? What does it mean when your lover is reading or watching porn? Is it a betrayal of your commitment to one another; is it cheating?
The answer: it depends.
Everyone feels differently. These are really tough questions that have to be individually defined. Essentially, it comes down to what you define as “going too far.” You’ll need to evaluate the situation objectively by thinking about these facts.
* Masturbation among men who are in committed relationships is not unusual.
* Fantasy is very different than actually acting out.
* It is a myth that your man should only fantasize about YOU while masturbating.
* It is common for men to use pictures or the internet as part of their fantasies.
* Men with high sex drives who enjoy sex with their partners are apt to feel more sexual, not less.
While these facts do not excuse men from their obligations to their lovers, it can help you understand that generally men do use pornography to let off sexual steam. Cybersex and pornography may trouble you because you are concerned about living up to the “standard” others are setting. Your moral value system may be called into question and you may wonder whether this crosses over the line. The exploitation of women may upset your sensibilities. Usually the use of pornography is in no way a reflection of how he feels about you or your sex life just as your crush on Mel Gibson or the steamy romance novel you are reading doesn’t affect your feelings for him.
However, if your man is spending more time with the internet girls than with you, that is a whole different problem. If he is chatting, corresponding, establishing cyber relationships or even actually meeting other women, there is real cause for concern. Our rule of thumb is simple: Is he doing something that he can’t or won’t share with you? If the answer is yes, it directs you to other need approaches.
If his use of pornography has become chronic and you are upset your best solution is to try to talk about it. You may want to speak with him yourself or set up an appointment with a therapist who can help you both understand the situation. The key is not to give up. No matter how angry or upset you may be, you (and he) must be willing to work on your relationship.