adult sexuality, sexual compulsionThis site stands with other adult sites in speaking out against the exploitation of children in the form of child pornography or online exploitation of minors.



© 2001 Robert W. Birch, Ph.D., Sexologist & Adult Sexuality Educator


Many adults, men and women, straight and gay, look to the Internet as a vehicle for meeting other consenting adults with similar interests and persuasions, sexual and otherwise. The search for cyber buddies takes place in the chat rooms, on the bulletin boards, and through the exchange of e-mail or IMs. This can be an exciting and rewarding pastime that usually remains as an online activity. For some, however, Internet contact might lead to phone calls (and phone sex), and for a few, to actual in-person meetings.

It is hard to pin down the personality types or the personal needs that lead someone to seek friendship or sexual excitement on their computer. It is likely that people who are bored, or lonely, or feel insecure with face-to-face meetings would be attracted to this electronic pool of cyber buddies. A person unhappy in there marriage, bored on their job, or just looking for novelty will find something attractive in pursuit of cyber relationships. Some have simply exhausted the pool of eligible real-live dates, and turn to the Internet for a larger pond in which to fish.

There are undoubtedly a number of psychological studies that have identified the core motivation of the folks who enjoy online conversations. Obviously all cyber pen pals do not talk about sex, and a lot of online friendships develop around similar interests. There is, however, a lot of sexual talk on the internet. Unfortunately, there are also a lot of male sexual predators prowling the chatrooms looking for vulnerable women, who are easily drawn in by these experts at entrapment. The women who are most vulnerable are often looking for love, and the predators who troll the chatroom ponds know what hooks to use.

Clearly there is something intriguing about connecting with a total stranger. There is something freeing about sharing personal information with someone you don't know. Without face-to face contact it is easy to fantasize about the physical appearance of the unseen person, and without really knowing that person one can quickly fill in the details of their personality. Online rendezvous offer an opportunity to brag and to exaggerate, but also the freedom to be brutally honest.

Some cyber enthusiasts are motivated by a sense of horniness, others out of loneliness. Some are looking for a confidant, others for a conquest. Interactions can be playful, manipulative, or both. Every day online curiosities are being peaked, passions are being aroused, emotions are being stirred, and hearts are being broken. Every day sexual needs are being met, friendships are being formed, and romance is being born.

Cyber dating and cyber seduction is an adult activity and can be the source of much excitement, great fun and a lot of satisfaction. However, it certainly not for everyone... and there are risks.


There are, of course, the risks of running into someone who is dishonest or exploitive. In some sense, many people consider cyber dating to be a game, and that's fair as long as all parties agree. It is also true that a lot of what happens on the Internet is exploitive . . . people are out there wanting to satisfy their own emotional and sexual needs. However, two adults can play that game and if both find pleasure in the enteraction no harm is done. However, if only one party is exploitive, the other party is likely to end up feeling used and abused. Clearly, people who play must agree on the rules!

A concern of many people centers around the "normalcy" of electronic rendezvous.

First of all, what is "normal" is not always "typical" and is not always "moral." Cyber dating and cyber sex is not statistically "typical" and many would not consider it moral. But can it be considered normal?

But what about "sexual addiction" or "compulsive sexual behavior?" Let's start with a definition that includes the following:

Compulsive sexual behaviors run the gamut from bothersome to illegal.

Within the literature on sexual compulsion, an addiction to pornography, phone sex, and sexual encounters with strangers are listed. Newer books on the topic now also include the cyber addictions. Obviously there is disagreement over what is a psychological problem and what is the right of an adult to his or her own choice of what they want to do with their own sexuality and how they want to express it... and with whom. Some sexologist worry that other sexologist are playing into the hands of the moralistic right who would have us all wait until marriage, avoid oral sex, always have the man on top, always in the dark, never with some one of the same gender, and never ever in the middle of a pile of consenting adults all of whom are practicing safe sex!

However, one should never allow his or her sexual behavior to:

An upskirt shotSo is it play or compulsion? In questions to Dr. Birch several college co-eds wondered about the pleasure they received by flashing a brief panty shot to fellow male students. Play or compulsion? In both cases the women were not preoccupied with thoughts of the behavior, were not frustrated during the cold months when it was more difficult to flash, did not allow the behavior to disrupt their study (although an occasional shot was provided in the library), and did not always need to reminisce and masturbate after acting out. Sounded more like play, but you should quickly detect a gender bias. It is easier to "forgive" a woman's playfully flashing of underwear than it is to accept the same behavior if performed by a male. For one thing, a male is more likely to do it without underwear! The second difference is that women are typically given permission to be seductive, but similar male behavior is often perceived as aggressive. Finally, the heterosexual male's interest in female crotches is much greater than the female's interest in men's. Hence, men are more likely to be appreciative and not report the incident, while most women who find themselves on the receiving end of an unsolicited exposure are likely to feel offended. Answers to questions of what is sexually "typical," "normal" and "socially acceptable" are not always easy to answer and not likely to find total agreement.

If you are looking at your own behavior, ask yourself the following questions:
  • Have repeated attempts to stop your behavior failed?
  • Do I feel out of control of the behavior ... that the behavior is controlling you?
  • Are you feeling guilty and shameful about your behavior, but still unable to quit?
  • Is it important to keep your behavior very secret, even from your best friends?
  • Are you spending too much time and too much money on your sexual behavior?
  • Are your online activities getting in the way of real life relationships?
  • Are you avoiding intimacy by using impersonal written or visual Internet escapes?
  • Are your sexual activities escalating into more serious behaviors?
  • Are you risking embarrassment, social disapproval or arrest?
Have a questions about your behavior or the behavior of a friend or spouse? Ask Dr. Birch! Dr. Birch is no longer a licensed psychologist and will not, therefore, render a "diagnosis" or offer "treatment." He will, however, offer prompt feedback and suggestions.

Looking for face-to-face professional help? Go to the website of THE AMERICAN ASSOCIATION OF SEX EDUCATORS, COUNSELORS AND THERAPISTS.

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This site stands with other adult sites in speaking out against the exploitation of children in the form of child pornography and online exploitation of minors.

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