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Expert Warns Online Infidelity Becoming Virtual Epidemic
Man Who Lost Wife To Online Affair Hopes To Help Others

NEW YORK -- A man who lost his wife after she carried on several Internet affairs is now hoping to share his experiences -- and help others who are going through the same thing.


Four years ago, John La Sage says his wife of 23 years and the mother of their two daughters left without a word. Only afterward did La Sage, a computer programmer, discover that she had been having a secret Internet affair.

"I went to church one morning, I came home and my wife was gone," La Sage said.

La Sage dug into her secret files and found out she was "cyber-sexing" with several guys. He said he found a file detailing a recent sexual encounter with a local man right before she left.

"It was totally out of character," La Sage said. "She was a good mom, good wife, but once we got on the Internet she changed completely."

La Sage started a Web site, ChatCheaters.com, dedicated to understanding cyber infidelity. Now, he's learned that he wasn't alone.

"[At first], I was getting 100 visitors per day, now I'm getting 3,000 visitors per day," he said.

Psychiatrist Dr. David Greenfield, author of a book on virtual addiction, says online infidelity is a virtual epidemic.

"I think that the Internet has increased the number of people having affairs," Greenfield said. "There's some estimates that 50 percent of all divorces involve some element of cyber infidelity as being brought up in the divorce process."

Greenfield says the Internet provides an enticing opportunity for anonymous and secret sexual exploration in the privacy of your own home - and even people who aren't looking for affairs can get caught up in one. It usually starts with a meeting an Internet chatroom, which then develops into an online relationship, then escalates to a telephone relationship, then, surprisingly often, it leads to a face-to-face meeting.

"About 15 to 31 percent of people don't keep it online," Greenfield said. "It goes from virtual to real."

And he says the consequences for a marriage can be dire.

"When you start to have a cyber affair, it's not just sex you have to worry about, you have to worry about intimacy feelings. That's why that woman left her spouse," he said.

Warning signs that your spouse may be having a cyber-affair include:

Excessive time spent on a computer, or acting secretively while on the computer.

Changes in mood or behavior

Decrease in sexual activity at home

Secretive or unusual cell phone use

Greenfield says a marriage can be repaired if a spouse recognizes the warning signs, confronts the cheating spouse, and if the couple undergo marriage counseling. In some cases, the cheater may also need therapy for cyber-sex addiction.

John La Sage says the warning signs were there, and he wishes he had confronted his wife before she was gone.

"Do something about it," he said. "Don't do what I did and ignore it."

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Affairs Fact

30% Of online relationships evolve into real-world affairs. A staggering nine out of ten women in relationships flirt with other men on a regular basis.

Affairs Fact

Studies find that more than one in five men do have an affair, at least once in their lives, and that women are now about as likely as men to cross the line.

Affairs Fact

In a survey 98 percent of men and 80 percent of women surveyed reported having a sexual fantasy about someone other than their partner at least once in the previous two months. Bet it's higher!

Affairs Fact

The chance of a married woman having an affair is highest within the first five years and falls off gradually with time. Men have two high-risk phases, one during the first five years of marriage and, the second, after the 20th year.




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