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Internet Romances: The Frequency and Nature of Romantic On-Line Relationships

Internet Romances: The Frequency and Nature of Romantic On-Line Relationships

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Published by: Ricardo on Jan 21, 2009
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Internet RomancesRunning head: INTERNET ROMANCESInternet Romances: The Frequency and Nature of Romantic On-Line RelationshipsMatthew L. Nice Richard KatzevPortland State University Public Policy ResearchAuthors NoteMatthew L. Nice, student with the department of psychology; Dr. Richard Katzev,Public Policy Research, Portland, Oregon.This study was conducted at Portland State University, during graduate course work,and was in collaboration with Public Policy Research, Portland, Oregon.Requests for reprints or correspondence concerning this article should be addressed toPublic Policy Research, Dr. Richard Katzev, 2432 NW Johnson, Portland, Oregon 97210.Electronic mail may be sent to Matthew L. Nice at: psu02532@odin.cc.pdx.edu orhttp://odin.cc.pdx.edu/~psu02532 or Richard Katzev at: rkatzev@reed.edu orhttp://www.ppr.portland.or.us/~rkatzev/index.html.AbstractOne thousand university students were e-mailed a survey about relationships they hadestablished on the Internet. Of the 248 who returned the survey, eighty-eight (36%)indicated they had formed a friendship with another individual in an on-line setting.Nineteen (22%) described it as a close romantic relationship. These respondents were e-
Internet Romancesmailed a second survey concerning various aspects of their romantic relationship. Thefrequency of romantic on-line relationships in the university population investigated wasdetermined to be .0766, or 76 per 1,000 students. The 12 respondents who returned thesecond survey rated their on-line relationship as equal to or superior to those they hadestablished off-line on measures of strength, satisfaction, and ease of communication. Thefindings were discussed in terms of those features of computer mediated communicationwhich can facilitate the development of close relationships, as well as their implicationsfor contemporary theories of relationship formation.
Internet RomancesInternet Romances: The Frequency and Nature of Romantic On-Line Relationships“Norm" was a 35 year old married white male and recent college drop-out. Heworked part-time and owned a house in the city with his wife of 8 years. Like manystudents, Norm had a home computer, and like millions of others, spent time on-line.Norm spent increasingly more hours on-line in “chat-rooms”, which he called forums. Inthese forums several people could role-play fantasy lives or just chat with other users.After several months of chat-room use, Norm met a woman, “Anita” who lived inanother city 3000 miles away. Anita, like Norm, was also married and she too spentsignificant amounts of time on-line. The two began to e-mail daily. Soon they beganusing chat-rooms and telephoning each day.After about a year of on-line communication, both Norm and Anita separatedfrom their spouses. Norm continued to spend more and more time on-line, leaving hisapartment room to either go to work part-time or read his e-mail on the deck with hismorning coffee. He did not go out with family or friends. He did not socialize. He quithunting and backpacking, two of his favorite activities.Finally, after more than a year on-line with Anita, a divorce, and several cross-country trips, Norm moved 3000 miles to live with Anita. When we last spoke, Anita wasin the middle of her divorce. Both Norm and Anita have spoken of marriage.We read and hear about the occurrence of such on-line relationships withincreasing frequency. They have been described in the media, observed on the Internetand noted in recent accounts of on-line friendships (1). However, beyond these anecdotalaccounts, we have very little knowledge of the nature and extent of Internet-based socialrelationships.On one account, it would seem quite unlikely that close personal relationshipswould ever develop on the Internet. Perhaps the single best predictor of whether or nottwo individuals become friends is physical proximity (5). Yet this factor is clearly notpresent in on-line situations, as individuals may live several thousand miles away from

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