Much of the Internet's appeal to married people is the anonymity it guarantees, coupled with the no-touching aspect, which they view as a license to be sexual, Mileham said.
One can reveal the most intimate emotional and sexual details to an unseen stranger at any time of the day or night, she said.
The study's participants, who represented every state, included stay-at-home mothers, construction workers, engineers, nurses and presidents of large corporations.
Engaging in cybersex activities with a minor can get you into a lot of trouble.Females are usually bombarded with messages and can pick and choose which messages they respond to, she said.Al Cooper, a leading expert in the field of Internet sexuality and the author of the book "Sex and the Internet: A Guidebook for Clinicians," said Mileham's research is important in helping to understand this increasingly common phenomenon.One 66-year-old man ended up having 13 affairs this way, she said.Research shows that more males than females use chat rooms, said Mileham, who found it difficult to get women to respond to her survey.Unlike some fatal attractions, a simple click of a mouse button ends contact – should the person want to break it off – without any explanations or apologies, she said.Mileham conducted in-depth online interviews with 76 men and 10 women, ages 25 to 66, who used Yahoo's "Married and Flirting" or Microsoft's "Married But Flirting," Internet chat rooms geared specifically for married people."We are hearing from therapists around the country reporting online sexual activity to be a major cause of marital problems," Cooper said."We need to better understand the contributing factors if we are going to be able to warn people about the slippery slope that starts with online flirting and too often ends in divorce." With the exception of two of the study's participants, all hid their online activities from their spouses, often "chatting" after their husbands or wives had gone to sleep, Mileham said.The vast majority said they loved their spouses but sought an erotic encounter online because of boredom, a partner's lack of sexual interest or the need for variety and fun, Mileham said."I'm not going to cheat," wrote one married man."With cybersex, there is no longer any need for secret trips to obscure motels.An online liaison may even take place in the same room with one's spouse." In the words of one 41-year-old man in the study, "All I have to do is turn on my computer, and I have thousands of women to choose from.The friendly interface allows you to search, browse or download any article or abstract.