"I felt like I've known her in another life." Mileham believes the time has come for the Internet to become as essential a part of pre-marital discussions as is whether or not to have children.

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An online liaison may even take place in the same room with one's spouse."In the words of one 41-year-old man in the study, "All I have to do is turn on my computer, and I have thousands of women to choose from.

(It) can't get any easier than that." Counseling organizations report chat rooms are the fastest-rising cause of relationship breakdowns, and the problem only stands to get worse as today's population of Internet users continues to grow, Mileham said."The Internet will soon become the most common form of infidelity, if it isn't already," she said.

"We are hearing from therapists around the country reporting online sexual activity to be a major cause of marital problems," Cooper said.

"We need to better understand the contributing factors if we are going to be able to warn people about the slippery slope that starts with online flirting and too often ends in divorce." With the exception of two of the study's participants, all hid their online activities from their spouses, often "chatting" after their husbands or wives had gone to sleep, Mileham said.

The vast majority said they loved their spouses but sought an erotic encounter online because of boredom, a partner's lack of sexual interest or the need for variety and fun, Mileham said.

"I'm not going to cheat," wrote one married man.Several participants indicated they divulged more about themselves to online partners than to their wives or husbands."We started chatting about life, our marriage, what we like to eat, what sexual positions we like the best," wrote one man to Mileham.Much of the Internet's appeal to married people is the anonymity it guarantees, coupled with the no-touching aspect, which they view as a license to be sexual, Mileham said.One can reveal the most intimate emotional and sexual details to an unseen stranger at any time of the day or night, she said.Most of our gay chats are completely free without registration.