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Therapy can be more complicated if the cheating partner doesn’t believe his or her online activities qualify as an affair, Ducharme says.

“The excuses are, ‘I didn’t have sex with this person.

Americans now spend as much time online as they do watching TV — about 13 hours a week.

While TV viewing has remained fairly constant, time spent surfing the Web has increased more than 120 percent over the last five years.

“You could be at home or at work or sitting on the couch with your partner chatting to someone online.” As costs for Internet access have dropped, online affairs are also very affordable.

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Several studies suggest that even when there is no in-person contact, online affairs can be just as devastating as the real-world variety, triggering feelings of insecurity, anger and jealousy.People often feel more comfortable revealing intimate details of their lives to relative strangers because the relationship exists only in cyberspace, Ducharme says. “Some people really begin to think the other person is in love with them.They develop this intimacy and fantasy relationship.The cool thing about fantasy relationships is they don’t require any work.” Therapy is similar for online or traditional affairs, with couples working on issues of trust, betrayal and forgiveness.Hertlein also encourages couples to use the Internet to strengthen their relationships by enjoying pornography sites together or visiting websites for ideas about romantic dates or new sexual skills.