It’s time for couples to talk about online sex
Human & Rousseau 336 pages R275
Infidelity has been around as long as marriage. It can wreck homes and leave individuals feeling betrayed and with low selfconfidence. Now a new form of seduction threatens relationships and marriages: cyber-infidelity. This is the title of Dr Eve’s new book, which is defined as “a process in which people in a committed relationship seek computer-synchronous interactive contact through electronic conversations that occur through text, chat rooms, emails and dating sites. These contacts may be emotional, sexual or pornographic. They are always secret...”
Cyber-infidelity is complicated because the common defence is: “But I didn’t have sex with them, we were just chatting.”
Dr Eve uses research gathered from the recently hacked infidelity site Ashley Madison. The site, the biggest of its kind, is designed for married people seeking satisfaction, both emotional and sexual, outside marriage. With the slogan, “Life is short. Have an affair,” the site hosted more than 230 000 South Africans seeking no-strings-attached sex or relationships – until it was hacked and its subscribers exposed. Women were found to be just as likely to entertain cyberflirtations as men.
Dr Eve says it is important to discuss and define what constitutes infidelity within your relationship, as this will vary between individuals.
I chatted to Dr Eve after reading her book and asked about her view on couples who shared passwords for social-media networks, or even the same profile. She said that one of the aims of the book was to provoke conversation between couples on how much they would share with each other and where their lines about privacy were drawn.
Regarding the hacking of Ashley Madison, Dr Eve is of the opinion that it points to the reality of the new world of technology and will make us more mindful of how we manage our devices.
“It is part of what we have to deal with. Our privacy should not be policed; morality should not be dictated to us.”
Dr Eve says the high number of subscribers to such sites is an indication of changes in sexual behaviour. “It is a reflection of what people are doing. The reality of technology has brought us to this, a new form of relationship.”
I was surprised to learn that some countries have laws to protect people from snooping partners who access a spouse’s phone or computer.
Cyber Infidelity does not take a moral high ground, as morality carries judgement. In fact, one of the positive aspects of the book is that it also covers what people desire from a partner.
The book is, however, inundated with statistics and numbers. Although necessary to back up the research, it does make for a bit of heavy reading.
As a sex coach, I feel Cyber Infidelity is a beneficial read as it helps to establish boundaries for relationships in this new technological age. It can invoke necessary conversation between couples and hopefully spare the feelings of heartache, betrayal and exclusion that are often the results of infidelity. Most people feel entitled to know every aspect of their partner’s life and can feel excluded when they discover their partner has another life in cyberspace. This book helps to encourage and establish the line between privacy for an individual and the openness couples are expected to share.