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Living within 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.
Accordingly, many people will be just as disturbed about a partner's online sexual affairs as they would be if they discovered that their spouse was exchanging steamy love letters with someone else.
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.
As a 29-year-old married woman who often engages in cybersex, says: When people feel trapped by their current circumstances, but still do not want to ruin their relationship, cyberspace may offer a parallel world in which things are better.
Time spent in that world can help them their actual world, while not giving up on having exciting, even emotional experiences.
One way of reducing the weight of these difficulties is to distance the online affair from offline circumstances—for example, by refraining from exchanging personal, actual details or by imposing other limitations on the online affair.
Thus, people may agree not to develop a relationship, permitting themselves only virtual one-night stands, or an uncommitted affair, or a promise with a partner to tell each other about each online affair.