Does The Internet Add Excitement to Monogamy?

We all know that the internet has changed the way we communicate and how we experience the world, but new research indicates that the internet may also be adding excitement to monogamous relationships. Research from Aaron Ben-Ze’ev of University of Haifa suggests that extramarital cybersex and online affairs are evolving and influencing the way that people are meeting and mating. Ben-Ze’ev also suggests that he believes that monogamous romantic relationships will still endure, regardless of cybersex and online affairs.

In all romantic relationships there is a need to balance out the paradox of stability and change. Why is stability important in romantic relationships? Stability offers couples commitment and security and is crucial for the development of emotional attachment, trust, and liking. While change relates to excitement and risk which offers stimulation and sexual pleasure. However the paradox of stability and change are crucial for couples to find happiness in romantic relationships. 

For some couples in long term romantic relationships, alleviating the boredom of monogamy in their marriage can be a challenge. Although research suggests that many monogamous couples successfully balance fidelity and sexual or romantic adventure, others may engage in the occasional clandestine affair to maintain their sexual interest. Research suggests that approximately 56% of men and 34% of women may be involved in extramarital sex. But those involved in extramarital sex often report that they are in a happy, stable, romantic relationship. 

There is a growing phenomenon of engaging in cybersex with the full awareness and approval of their significant other. Cybersex may offer monogamous couples a solution to the stability-change paradox. With this arrangement Ben-Ze’ev suggests that no trust is broken, which may often occur with clandestine extramarital affairs. This arrangement does not completely deny the privileged sexual status of the significant other, which is often the case in open marriages.

It is possible that more couples may engage in approved cybersex and online romantic relationships. But research suggests that it is not likely that these will replace the more stable nature of physical romantic relationships. There is still a strong need for real time attachment and physical proximity to stabilise all romantic relationships.

Christopher Swane - Relationship Counselling and Psychotherapy - Wellington New Zealand