Cybersex involves the use of digital technology for sexual purposes. Technological innovations have been advancing at light speed. With each new innovation comes greater opportunity and temptation to become involved in sexual activities via those technologies. These activities can include, but are not limited to:
- viewing, exchanging, collecting pornographic material
- using websites to procure escort, prostitute, or sexual massage services
- using apps to locate casual or anonymous hookups
- webcam viewing of sexual acts
- sending and/or exchanging sexual photos or text (sexting)
- joining chat rooms to engage in mutual masturbatory activity
Cybersex has been called the “crack cocaine of sex addiction” due to its powerful capacity to hook the participant easily into compulsive behaviors. That power comes from the so-called Triple A Engine of cybersex.
Accessibility—In the past, to engage in certain sexual activities required significant time and effort, such as trips to the adult bookstore or driving in unsafe neighborhoods in search of a prostitute. Now, a variety of options is instantly available online. Google searches offer a seemingly endless array of sexual choices.
Affordability—Most porn sites offer their wares free of charge. Other sexual sites are free or tend to keep their fees low in order to sustain customer interest. While it is still possible to spend extensively on sexual activities, one can indulge various sexual activities online at little or no cost.
Anonymity—There is no need for the majority of cybersex addicts to ever risk being found out. Histories can be deleted, false names and identities manufactured. Almost any kind of cybersex activity can be engaged in the privacy of one’s home, car, etc.
In addition to the Triple As, Robert Weiss has identified several other aspects of cybersex which make it so compelling:
Interactivity—A person’s interest can be sustained for a longer time when there is an interactive element, rather than just passive viewing. With webcam involvement a person can often engage with the performers and even direct the observed behavior via live chat.
Compactness/Portablility—As Mr. Weiss points out, in the past sexualized phone calls on land lines required privacy, DVDs and VHSs required storage space, and live sexual encounters needed a motel room. Now with digital, interactive devices none of that is necessary; sexual acting out is much easier to manage.
Safety—The advances in digital technology have virtually eliminated the risks of, e.g., catching an STD, getting arrested, or risking physical or sexual assault.
Dr. Patrick Carnes has identified patterns noted in those who compulsively engage in cybersex behavior:
- Rapid escalation of amount and variety of online sex use
- Escalation then moves to obsessional new behaviors
- Relational problems are created, such that the user loses interest in sex with his/her partner
- Internet sex behavior accelerates existing addictive behavior and/or precipitates new compulsive behavior offline.
If you feel that you or a loved one has become addicted to online sexual activities please contact us to set up an appointment so that we can conduct a thorough evaluation/assessment.