In the ever-increasing complexities of cyberspace hides a new and more anonymous method of sexual interaction since on-line relationships have become an almost overnight epidemic. Internet users are creating their own social conventions and are seen creating the process of defining their own set of ground rules for social and sexual interaction.
Some people enjoy the medium and are quite good at expressing their thoughts, feelings, and desires. Any relationship seeks to be consummated in or by one form or another. Online relationships leave the fantasy intact, but it is hard to fully complete the circle and never quite satiates one`s soul. However, the Internet raises questions about the very nature of interpersonal and sexual interaction and fidelity.
On-line relationships are appearing to become far more intense more quickly. Direct and explicit comments regarding sexual behavior can create a hyper stimulating effect and cross the line between innocent flirting and overt sexual interaction almost immediately. The nonverbal signs of discomfort, smiles or laughter are not available to blunt the force of sexually suggestive comments. There is power in the written word (typed) word--especially when it involves sexual remarks.
Online lovers can create personalities who appear confident and assertive or sensitive and romantic while in reality they might blurt, stammer or have a crack in their voices. Never before has this mode of communication been so instantly accessible to so many via the Internet. The perception of anonymity facilitates a kind of daring than most would be unable to recreate in a more "visible" context.
Thus, the private member/chat rooms have become electronic bedrooms where people can engage in their wildest fantasies without ever leaving their homes (or taking their clothes off). Sitting in a familiar chair, in everyday surroundings in front of a computer screen, one has the illusion of the kind of safety and security. In online love there is no need to fear AIDS, pregnancy, or lipstick stains on the collar.
In this uncharted territory people often begin cyber-interaction and online relationships with very little and usually with only the most innocent of intention. However, when the subtle power, instant gratification, and almost universal wish to be found interesting, attractive, and desirable converge the unsuspecting user might find themselves in a rapidly accelerating relationship with a momentum and life of its own.
Participants may find themselves somewhat disoriented and caught up in a very powerful on-line relationship before they realize it. However, with some warning and awareness the person is more likely to be able to pull themselves back far enough to make a conscious decision as to whether or not this is a path that they are interested in traveling.
Different people have different views about the concept of getting into online relationships. Many of them feel that they can explore their sexual fantasies on the Internet, since there is no face to face contact and therefore no embarrassment involved. They are safer, especially because of the deadliness of sexually transmitted diseases, you are not endangering your partner with your extracurricular activities. It is a healthier form of sexual expression and it allows people to try things that they normally would not try to do. Some of the very lonely people might also find this as another source of therapy.
However some even feel that online relationships are serious threats to marriages. When you have an online relationship you never see the bad things that occur in material relationships. It is too easy to compare your virtual person who seems perfect to an imperfect relationship that you would have face to face. You can also never really tell if the virtual person has a bad temper or is annoying. All you see is type and not the personal emotions attached thus it may make a person compare relationships even when they are not even close to being comparable.
There are also risks in relationships be they physical, email or otherwise. The risks in email are not the usual ones in every instance. There is no HIV or STD`s or rape or similar. The other risks still apply. Except in unusual sets of circumstances, email relationships are viewed by a married partner the same as a "real" physical relationship. It is still considered cheating.
Sometimes online relationships can take on different forms and become sexual as well. The two individuals can `dare` one another to do things, they can write fantasy stories together with varying levels of eroticism, etc. By the electronic connection, one is protected from physical/health harm and from some kinds of emotional risks, inability or unwillingness to "perform," etc. It is easier to say "no" but once an affair gets going one does sometimes feel an obligation to "play along" for a while. Because the relationship is based only on what is typed on a screen, in some ways it requires even more trust than a standard sexual affair because you are opening up a part of yourself -- private fantasies that may be difficult to communicate to a partner in-person.
However, email cheating is easier to accomplish, less likely to be discovered and for the most part and much cheaper to accomplish. The downside is that online relationships are never really, satisfying even in the short-term sense. On an intellectual level it can be easy or hard, fast or slow, long-term or short-term, but it can never be real. Online relationships can lead to real sex between the participants but more likely the reality is that it gets people steamed up enough to make real sex with real life partners more enjoyable even if not ordinarily so. It mostly happens that the real risk in email relationships is forgetting that the relationship is virtual. The real risk is to mental health and well being since it substitutes virtual for reality.
As the Internet evolves to providing increasingly life-like erotica, users of cyber-sex are proportionately at risk for committing infidelity. For these people, it will become ever more important that discussions of relationship agreements be clarified to include all forms of technology-based sex, even when it starts as educational exploration. It is strongly recommended that you have such a discussion with your partner and negotiate your respective needs from the perspective of the many technologies that can now bring strangers into close emotional and sensory contact.