Thus, people may agree not to develop a relationship, permitting themselves only virtual one-night stands, or an uncommitted affair, or a promise with a partner to tell each other about each online affair.
As one woman in a committed relationship remarks about her online sexual affairs: "I've had this discussion with my boyfriend and we both agree that as long as it's not with the same person more than twice, it is really masturbation.
Time spent in that world can help them their actual world, while not giving up on having exciting, even emotional experiences.
Living within the two worlds is not easy, however, and may become increasingly risky when people do not realize the limitations of each.
These people believe that if they do not even know the real name of their cybermate—and never actually see them—their affair cannot be regarded as from a moral point of view; it's no different from reading a novel or other form of entertainment.
In other words, a way to play out fantasies in a safe environment.
Whereas people having online affairs tend to understate their problematic nature, their offline partners typically do not see difference between online and offline affairs: A lack of direct physical contact and face-to-face meetings does not diminish the sense of a violation of their vow of exclusivity.
The fact that most of these affairs are concealed from offline spouses is indicative of the possible harm.
As a 29-year-old married woman who often engages in cybersex, says: When people feel trapped by their current circumstances, but still do not want to ruin their relationship, cyberspace may offer a parallel world in which things are better.
In reality, though, the issue of online cheating is more complex—especially when it concerns sexual activities involving actual interaction with other individuals.
People, consciously or not, consider their online sexual relationships as real—they experience psychological states similar to those typically elicited by offline relationships.
Many of them believe cybersex to be similar to pornography—an extension of fantasy that actually helps to keep them from physical affairs with other people.
Consider the following statement from a 41-year-old married man (all citations are from to cheat—something that may even add spice to their offline relationship.