lundi, janvier 15, 2007

Cybersex: Simply Irresistible

For those of you who fear I'm obssesed with virtual sex and need to be rescued, let me assure you that this is the last virtual sex posting for a while. I'm going to change the topic to something really safe and uncontroversial like the future of the Episcopal Church or whether Eagles fans (of which I am one) can cope better with losing to the Saints than they would to the Patriots.
After copious study (several articles found on the Internet) and a lot of meditation (wasn't as hard as I thought it would be) I have come to a couple of tentative conclusions on the topic.

I. Cybersex is here to stay-it can enrich some relationships
II. Sometimes, as with other stimulants, it can be addictive. 'Cybering', as it is often called, can pose a serious problem for even non-addicts who stumble across it on the Internet (see
III. Smart folks in the "helping professions" are going to need to develop criteria to deal with the new prevelance of online sex
IV. Cybersex through text-messaging sounds like torture to me, but I don't have very flighty fingers
Here's the statistic that really got me thinking outside the box on this topic: A recent survey of college students in Canada found that 87% of more than 2,500 respondents said they used what the article called "technology-assisted sex tools." These include instant message, webcams, and text message. As the AOL article notes, this was a survey of young adults aged 18-22, most of whom grew up in an online world. One sexologist asserts that this is really a good option for people who may not be physically attractive, may be widowed and just reconnecting, or may be harried single parents (obviously this requires a little more thought.) But, as Dr. David Greenfield pointed out at a recent meeting of the American Psychological Association, Internet sex can also have a dark side. The difference between addictive and non-addictive use is that sex addicts simply use Internet resources (like dating sites and chat rooms) more frequently-not that addicts use and non-addicts do not. In the article I read titled "Addictive and Sexual Behavior on the Internet" he also was quoted as saying that, based on his clinical research, an estimated 50% of marital issues are due to online porn and cybersex. He added that it's not clear which came first-the marital problems or the Internet-related sexual issues. The larger question for our society may be-does Internet-enabled sex pose a real challenge to intimacy? Or are there ways in which it can actually create more freedom in relationships? Cybersex seems to be an increasingly normalized part of life for younger generations, and for many of the rest of us. But it is also the case that therapists, clergy and others may not be well prepared to deal with the relational issues that arise when people who can't communicate well to begin with start to seek sexual satisfaction outside their primary relationships in the virtual world. We need to move beyond blind condemnation to greater understanding of what allows some of us to use without addiction, and what pushes the vulnerable into that place where they keep seeking greater and greater stimulation in a world with few real boundaries.

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