Nevertheless, since online affairs are real they do often cause actual harm to one's primary, offline romantic relationship.
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.
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.
As one woman in a committed relationship remarks about her online sexual affairs: "I've had this discussion with my boyfriend and we both agree that as long as it's not with the same person more than twice, it is really masturbation.
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.
The fact that most of these affairs are concealed from offline spouses is indicative of the possible harm.
These people believe that if they do not even know the real name of their cybermate—and never actually see them—their affair cannot be regarded as from a moral point of view; it's no different from reading a novel or other form of entertainment.