Why Should It Matter What Sex Your Online Partner Is?

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I’ve been online for – ohmygawd – nearly 20 years. Which, as we all know, is about 2000 years in Internet time. I couldn’t believe it myself, until I started counting backwards. But I’ve been online since 1987, when I first got out to the nascient Internet from a university account. Actually at that point it wasn’t so much of an Internet as a multi-institution intranet.

Back then there were several sites just coming online which offered forums. You had to dial into them, as, again, there wasn’t really an Internet, at least not as we know it today. Heck, not even as we knew it ten years ago.

Let’s see, there was Compuserve with its ‘CB’ forums, Qlink, and PeopleLink, to name a few.

I was a “host” for a couple of these sites, involved in running online relationship forums for Qlink and PeopleLink. And let me tell you, even back then, we saw a lot of interesting things.

Perhaps one of the most interesting was people finding out that the people they had met online, “fallen in love with”, and had computer and phone sex with – all without ever meeting them in person – were not who they pretended to be (what a surprise!)

In fact, sometimes they were not even the sex they had pretended to be.

I recall one woman in particular, who had ‘fallen in love’ with a man from another state. They had not yet met in person, but had already engaged in a frenzied affair, complete with torrid computer sex.

And then, the woman discovered that her lover was actually not a man at all, but another woman.

And she freaked out.


And yet…

And yet…

Why did she freak out? Let’s think about this for a minute – why did it matter so much, given the context? I mean, her online partner had always been a woman. She was already a woman when they met, and already a woman when they engaged in computer sex, to which this person had responded quite positively at the time.

The only thing which changed was her knowledge of the sex of her cyber-partner.

The issue of having been lied to aside (because in my experience that is not what bothers people in this situation so much – it’s learning that they were engaged in a ‘relationship’ with someone of the “wrong sex”), weren’t her responses to this person all in her own head? And not really predicated on the actual sex of her partner at all?

Every physical response she had was based on her reaction to reading what someone had written.

That what was being written was being written by someone of the same sex, rather someone of the opposite sex, didn’t affect the reader’s responses at the time at all. Because she didn’t know.

Because it was all in her own head.

Of course, in person, this scenario would never (well, rarely) happen. But online it happens more than you might think. One good reason to not engage in online ‘relationships’ without meeting the person early on – if this sort of thing matters to you (as it certainly would to me).

Would you be upset to find out that you had responded sexually to someone online whom you thought was a woman (or man, as appropriate for you), if you found out after the fact that they were in fact a man (or woman, as appropriate for you)?

And if so, why?

After all, it’s all in your head.

1 thought on “Why Should It Matter What Sex Your Online Partner Is?

  1. Dear Annie.

    Bearing in mind that I can not explain ‘torrid internet sex’ to my real wife (who also has ‘truth’ issues of a different kind), and aside from the ‘get what you pay for’ World Wide Web phenomenae, and that the real subject of your post is masturbation… Would you let either man or woman masturbate you (in the first place)? The ‘illusion’ of ‘consenting adults’ on the internet is complicated by desperation, distance, and alienation from our basic ‘flesh & blood’ reality.
    At days end, if what you see in the mirror does not make you happy …nothing else will give you happiness, and you will be unable to give happiness. Thus, sex lies are born.
    Further, everyone lies about sex.
    Isn’t it ‘special’ that electronic sex is a lie?

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