Cyber Infidelity – The New Seduction

Online dating is one of those things that the Internet was made for: People trying to meet people for love and sex in the supposed privacy of their homes. Cyber Infidelity is a book by Dr Eve, who’s real name is Dr Marlene Wasserman based in Cape Town, South Africa. She’s South Africa’s answer to the American Dr Laura, and is known for her regular radio talk shows.

We first met when I conducted my second survey about online dating and online sexuality in 2006.

Recently she sent me a copy of her book, Cyber Infidelity ISBN 978-0798171182. It’s my pleasure to review this book.

Cyber Infidelity the New Seduction by Dr EveCyber Infidelity is very readable, perhaps because of the topic of infidelity which usually sparks curiosity across the gender lines. It’s also a good read because of the personal stories it contains, which provide deep insight into the motivations why people choose to find lovers and sexual partners online in this day and age.

The first three chapters lay a very good base for modern relationships. The Internet has transformed the way we conduct ourselves not only in business but also in the most intimate spaces of our bedrooms. As a couples therapist, Dr Eve shares insights into the rapid changes in behaviour.

Chapter 5 describes the triple A engine: affordable, anonymous, accessible. This is the pivotal factors differentiating online infidelity from offline infidelity. You can say it’s the difference between cheating before the Internet and after the Internet and mobile phones became so easily accessible.

Sometimes it feels like Dr Eve is encouraging the infidelity. On page 169 she reveals a shocking statistic: over 75% of relationships that begin through an affair end in divorce. The chapter on porn habits is eye-opening. A few surprises may be learned from the porn watching habits of women, which is not commonly discussed as the stigma sees porn as the problem of (lonely) men.

The stories in this book reminds me of those I first read in Nancy Friday’s My Secret Garden. They are at once confessions, revelations and sometimes sad. They show what’s missing from the relationships and why the myth of “settling down” is so unsatisfactory.

The topic of infidelity raises curiosity our own personal natures. To what extent are we still living in a monogamous society with the rise of the Internet, social media and mobile phones?

Dr Eve aka Marlene Wasserman in her Cape Town office as a sex therapistOne of my favourite aphorisms in this book is that “shame and blame are the twin sisters of guilt.” The Ashley Madison website is where the author collected much of her first hand accounts of cyber infidelity. The customers of this website are not ashamed to share their innermost fantasies. So do you blame them for choosing to engage in cyber infidelity, which many times does not lead to an offline meeting? [After this book was published, AshleyMadison.com was hacked and some shocking facts about the female users were released.]

One of the radical facts emerging from the book, is that women are much more sexually liberated than before the rise of the Internet.

There are few surprises in in the statistics because they are all from English speaking countries. Perhaps a sequel may include comparison with China and India, which together account for probably half the Internet users in the world, and vastly different cultural norms. It would be fascinating to evaluate how the Internet has changed the sexual behaviour of these nations.

 

Psychologies Workshop: Dr Marlene Wasserman aka Dr Eve on Sexuality

Dr Marlene Wasserman aka Dr EveDr Marlene Wasserman aka Dr Eve was the final speaker at this excellent workshop held by Psychologies Magazine at the beautiful Groot Constantia in Cape Town. The first thing Dr Ev made us do was to get up and dance or move around a little bit to the music in the hall. She was really trying to get people to get into their bodies after two very intellectually stimulating sessions. This really is the fundamental problem I believe in sexuality i.e. that people are trapped inside their heads and living with imaginary or real fantasies about their lovers instead of getting down and dirty. She focussed her initial opening on relating from the “We” to the “I” in relationships. Most couples become stuck to the hip metaphorically speaking. They cannot express their individuality and this is almost like a death knell in a long term relationship.

Her presentation included some terrific story telling and there was a lot of giggles all around. Remember this is a seminar room filled with older women and some of them are likely unhappy in their sexual relationships for various reasons. And what Dr Eve does so well is give people permission to see themselves as sexual beings. One thing was clear is that contentment in a relationship is a place of indifference. When the people who she counsels tells her they are happy and content, she immediately become suspicious. To me it could also mean they have basically stopped growing. And sadly it seems that in many relationships as the “We” becomes merged, the “I” is lost at the alter. This is part of the reason why so Valium has been consumed by women and alcohol by men.

Dr Marlene Wasserman aka Dr EveFrom the 1960s the sexual revolution started. Oral contraception emerged alongside feminism. The era of therapy and the emergence of the Me generation. Sexual and human rights form the basis of a healthy relationship and parts of this is protected by our Constitution. Love became taken seriously as a relationship value. The quality if life is very important to relationship happiness. Viagra gave permission for sexual satisfaction. Same sex relationships have become accepted and even legalised in South Africa. In South Africa there has been a lot of talk of late of prostitution or sex work being decriminalised. It has been reported 1 in 3 women and 1 in 5 men suffer from abuse. And it turns out that HIV/STDs is a consequence of intimate relating.

Lifestyle can increase stress which has a direct link in sexual performance. Religion, righteousness and rigidity become solutions for management of relationships. You must identify your core relationship values i.e. love, monogamy, fidelity, exclusiveness, respect, trust, honesty. There are 3 basic forms of relationships:

  1. Side by Side
  2. Joined at the Hip
  3. Intimate with Interdependence

What I really like about Dr Eve is how she can put people at easy when it comes to this subject matter, which is often so ridiculously complicated by society. There was so many excellent visuals in Dr Eve’s presentation, I would highly recommend anyone who has the opportunity of hearing her speak do so. You won’t regret it. Her new book, The Pillowbook, was on sale and I didn’t hesitate buying a copy and asking her to sign it for me. The message is truly encouraging for me because she thanked me in turn for my contributions with my online dating research. You can expect a review of it shortly. I must conclude with a recommendation of my two favourite books on sex and sexuality:

 

Radio interviews as Valentine’s Day approaches

Last night I did a half hour long interview on SAFM with Lynette Francis. We discussed online dating, speed dating and sms dating. Trying to get people into the mood for Valentine’s Day. My friend Jenny Cereseto from SMARTdate was the only caller and made a good case for speed dating over online dating. My personal opinion is that most of the people using any of these services have some low self-esteem issues. The reason is simple: people who are confident, social and humourous personalities do not need these websites because they are meeting people all the time. And people want to meet them because of those core personality traits which make them stand-out from the rest. So in my personal plans to improve my dating life I’ve used all these dating services but I found the best results has been when I developed my competence with women, my social skills and my sense of humour.

Tomorrow night, Valentine’s Day I’ve been invited back onto Goodhope FM with Dr Eve on her weekly show. Its a pity I will not be in studio because I’ve wanted to meet Natalie Becker, who replaced Jeannie D, for a long time. As another dating guru once said its not about me and my life, its about spreading the good news.