Melissa Lee-Tammeus, PhD/LMHC View Entire Blog

Cybersex: Harmless or Destructive?

Four years ago, the average amount of time people spent on cybersex, sex chat rooms, and internet pornography viewing was eleven hours per week. Today, the Zur Institute (2014) noted that there are 4.2 million pornographic websites and that these sites get 372 million hits daily. Search engines requests that include cybersex and pornography range to 68 million, which calculates to 25% of total search engine requests. The averages are rising and so are relationship issues associated with this past time.

Depending on the rules in a relationship, cybersex and pornography viewing may be seen as a type of affair or betrayal or it may not. But most often, regardless of the rules between couples, such practices can affect and destroy relationships. Such addictions are becoming more commonplace for couples and individuals and often come up in relationship counseling. Computer and internet use, regardless of content, creates a lack of family communication and bonding and has been linked to depression and isolation (Goldberg, 2008). Such over-usage affects the entire family, not just the one with the addiction (Young et al., 2000 as cited by Goldberg, et al., 2008). Partners of users of cybersex specifically have intense reactions to the usage such as hurt, betrayal, rejection, devastation, and loneliness (Goldberg, et al., 2008).

Those engaged in cybersex activity can experience sleep issues and personality and behavioral changes (Schneider, 2009). They tend to request and demand more privacy and alone time and may start giving up many family responsibilities. And believe it or not, there is also a disinterest in “real” sex with the partner that is actually there. Many times the types of cybersex engaged in online are not common or comfortable scenarios for the user and the partner as a couple, which make the consequences of the behavior even more of a betrayal (Schneider, 2009).

Most often it is the one who is not using the internet seeking help from a therapist. He or she often has a lot of conflict about the partner’s behaviors and habits and feels all the loss one feels in a case of infidelity. Feelings of disloyalty, desertion, conflict, and a loss of familiarity are prominent (Goldberg, et al., 2008).

If this seems to be a problem in your relationship, you are not alone. And you are not wrong for thinking it is important to address. Counseling is a great way to start looking at ways to heal the relationship and find joy in real sex with your partner, instead of competing with the internet.


Goldberg, P. D., Peterson, B. D., Rosen, K. H., Sara, M. L. (2008). Cybersex: The impact of a contemporary problem on the practices of marriage and family therapists. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, 34(4), 469-480.

Schneider, J.P. (2009). Effects of cybersex addiction on the family: Results of a survey. In Moore, N. B., Davidson, J. K., & Fisher, T. D. (Eds.). Speaking of sexuality: Interdisciplinary readings (3rd ed.: pp. 568-580). New York: Oxford University Press.

Zuri Institute. (2014). Cybersex Addiction & Internet