It’s time for cou­ples to talk about online sex

Jade Zwane,

CityPress - - Voices - Cy­ber In­fi­delity – The New Se­duc­tion by Dr Eve

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.

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