Jacoby argues that virtual sex lacks the sensuality inherent in an in-person sexual encounter and that people who have sex online are settling for a much lesser experience. She also implies that the people who are drawn to such behavior suffer from low self-esteem. What does a woman think of herself in the same arid zone of sex without sensuality?
If Jacoby had attempted to substantiate her claims with scientific research, she would have come up short. The research in this area has shown that, by and large, men and women who use the Internet for such purposes have very similar psychological profiles when compared to general samples . In fact, at least among women, those who chat online e.
Thus, it does not seem to be the case that there is something inherently wrong with people who are drawn to digital hookups. So what about the quality of those online interactions? To the contrary, online chatters report that their virtual relationships fully satisfy their needs for emotional and social fulfillment . Not only do most online chatters report that their virtual relationships are just as valid and important as their in-person relationships , but research has also shown that repeated online interactions with anonymous partners decreases feelings of loneliness and enhances self-esteem .
In addition, there are certain benefits that online sexual relationships offer over in-person relationships. For example, in an online interaction, there is no risk of contracting and spreading sexually transmitted infections. Of course, this should not be taken to mean that virtual sex is as good or better in all ways than in-person sex, or that all online relationships are positive and healthy.
Additionally, there are some people who compulsively use the Internet for sexual purposes to the point where it interferes with their ability to form in-person relationships. Cybersex may not be your cup of tea, but I would caution against denigrating and publicly shaming the people who practice it. However, the research has been pretty clear that neither masturbation nor cybersex has lived up to the hype about their negative effects.
Also, we should be glad to live in an age where women feel empowered to fulfill their sexual desires, whether that entails some form of virtual, solo, or in-person sexual activity. The point here is not that virtual sex is superior to in-person sex or that everyone should start having their sex online.
When it comes to sex, to each their own assuming, of course, that the behavior is consensual and nobody is being hurt.
We all have our own personal opinions and preferences, but ask yourself this: I know this is nothing but a pipe dream, but it would be nice if everyone could stop perpetuating this age-old notion that every new and different sexual behavior is bad and spells the end of sex and love as we know it. Want to learn more about The Psychology of Human Sexuality? Click here for a complete list of articles or like the Facebook page to get articles delivered to your newsfeed.
Virtual spaces of interaction for socially oriented people. Outcomes of using the internet for sexual purposes: Sexual Health, 10, In defense of the Internet: The relationship between Internet communication and depression, loneliness, self-esteem, and perceived social support.