London: Once one gets hooked on to an online affair, it's very difficult to get off it as it almost becomes an addiction, a British study has concluded.
The study, by psychology lecturers Andreas Vossler and Naomi Moller from The Open University, recruited people who had experienced internet infidelity - either having engaged in it themselves or having found out that their partner had indulged.
"I tried to stop but neither of us could, it would start again and since so easy, with all the technology we carry around it was an amazingly comforting and sexy thing to have," a participant said.
"With long working hours an online relationship is like fast food, ready when we are, naughty, cheap, very often eaten alone without the exhaustion of social niceties," the participant added.
A woman, who has been at the receiving end of internet infidelity said: "I have a deep mistrust in the internet, and feel it massively facilitates infidelity. My ex-husband is inherently a very shy man, but online he is able to act much more confidently and attract the attention of other women."
"I strongly believe he would not have had so many affairs without the internet," she said.
The research, based on an anonymous online survey among 20 to 73-year-olds, confirmed that many participants think that the internet makes infidelity more likely.
Findings revealed that the internet made covert contact with another person easy and had a dis-inhibiting effect, making it easier to engage in behaviour that might be avoided in real life.
The study also found that the effects of internet infidelity can be as traumatic and wounding as face-to-face adultery, with many participants detailing their ongoing distress and describing the online infidelity as a relationship-ending event.
"What our research has revealed is that men and women do see internet infidelity differently. But it is not just a gender divide -- what is experienced as infidelity online can vary from person to person," Vossler said.