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The fact that most of these affairs are concealed from offline spouses is indicative of the possible harm.
Time spent in that world can help them their actual world, while not giving up on having exciting, even emotional experiences.
Living with the two worlds is not easy, however, and may become increasingly risky when people do not realize the limitations of each.
Whereas people having online affairs tend to understate their problematic nature, their offline partners typically do not see difference between online and offline affairs: A lack of direct physical contact and face-to-face meetings does not diminish the sense of a violation of their vow of exclusivity.
Many of them believe cybersex to be similar to pornography—an extension of fantasy that actually helps to keep them from physical affairs with other people. But I'm sure she'd get upset if we were to meet for a drink or something." to cheat—something that may even add spice to their offline relationship.
Consider the following statement from a 41-year-old married man (all citations are from "My wife doesn't care if I have relationships (even sexual) on the Internet. These people believe that if they do not even know the real name of their cyber mate—and never actually see them—their affair cannot be regarded as from a moral point of view; it's no different from reading a novel or other form of entertainment.