But some used this form of effortless escapism while their spouse was in the room, she said.Said one such man, "While I'm on the computer my wife just assumes I'm writing a report for work." Another man said his wife, who knew what he was doing and didn't like it, looked over his shoulder sometimes while he was typing, Mileham said.

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People, consciously or not, consider their online sexual relationships as real—they experience psychological states similar to those typically elicited by offline relationships.

Accordingly, cybersex is about sex, but a form of sexual encounter involves experiences typical of other encounters, such as sexual arousal, masturbation, orgasm, and satisfaction.

The study's participants, who represented every state, included stay-at-home mothers, construction workers, engineers, nurses and presidents of large corporations.

Some went online for a quick "sex fix," while others established more meaningful connections where they talked about personal problems and marital issues, Mileham said. Still others wanted to engage in cybersex, exchanging sexual fantasies with someone while masturbating, she said.

Oh, what a tangled web is weaved as growing numbers of married women and men sneak into Internet chat rooms for romantic or sexual thrills, a University of Florida study finds."Never before has the dating world been so handy for married men and women looking for a fling," said Beatriz Avila Mileham, who conducted the research for her doctoral dissertation in counselor education at UF.

"With cybersex, there is no longer any need for secret trips to obscure motels.

Much of the Internet's appeal to married people is the anonymity it guarantees, coupled with the no-touching aspect, which they view as a license to be sexual, Mileham said.

One can reveal the most intimate emotional and sexual details to an unseen stranger at any time of the day or night, she said.

"We are hearing from therapists around the country reporting online sexual activity to be a major cause of marital problems," Cooper said.