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Online Sexual Relationships Less Appealing Than Real-Life

June 21, 2011

According to a study released Monday, advances in technology still do not substitute for face-to-face contact in sexual relationships.

Researchers investigated the behaviors of infidelity on the Internet and sexting.

The team said the way humans become involved in relationships has changed dramatically over the last 20 years due to the increased availability of devices such as computers, video cams, and cell phones.

Sexting is becoming more popular as adults send nude photographs and sexually explicit text messages to another adult. 

The researchers said the Internet has made the act of infidelity much easier as well.

Diane Kholos Wysocki of the University of Nebraska and Cheryl Childers of Washburn University placed a survey on a website aimed at 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 the “infidelity” website revealed that women were more likely than men to engage in sexting behaviors.

According to the study, 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.

The study found that older men were more likely than younger men to cheat in real life.

Wysocki and Childers found that respondents were more interested in finding real-life partners 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.”

The study was published in the online journal Sexuality & Culture.

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