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The vast majority said they loved their spouses but sought an erotic encounter online because of boredom, a partner's lack of sexual interest or the need for variety and fun, Mileham said.
"I'm not going to cheat," wrote one married man.
"Many of them said their wife was so involved in childrearing that she wasn't interested in having sex." Because there is no touching involved in online chat conversations, married people often rationalize their behavior as harmless fun, Mileham said.
Eighty-three percent of the study's participants said they did not consider themselves to be cheating, and the remaining 17 percent deemed it a "weak" form of infidelity that was easily justifiable, she said.
Unlike some fatal attractions, a simple click of a mouse button ends contact – should the person want to break it off – without any explanations or apologies, she said.
Mileham conducted in-depth online interviews with 76 men and 10 women, ages 25 to 66, who used Yahoo's "Married and Flirting" or Microsoft's "Married But Flirting," Internet chat rooms geared specifically for married people.
Some even marry again in their fifties, their sixties or beyond!
Of course, we fully understand that getting back into the dating scene can seem daunting, especially after years of being in a steady relationship.
The UF study found an escalating quality to these online contacts.One 66-year-old man ended up having 13 affairs this way, she said.Research shows that more males than females use chat rooms, said Mileham, who found it difficult to get women to respond to her survey."I felt like I've known her in another life." Mileham believes the time has come for the Internet to become as essential a part of pre-marital discussions as is whether or not to have children."To prevent future problems, young couples, as well as long-term committed couples, need to talk about what role the Internet will play in their relationship."- The University of Florida Articles in The Science of Mental Health are written by the originating institution. Newswise maintains a comprehensive database of news releases from top institutions engaged in scientific, medical, liberal arts and business research.