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How We Love Now

Long-distance relationships, office romances, and marriages arranged online are new items on the romance menu.
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Long-Distance Marriages on the Rise continued...

Compared to generations past, today's lovers are more likely to meet while crisscrossing the country or globe, he says. "People travel for their work, they commute farther, they generally travel more than we did just a few decades ago. All of these things make it more likely that they'll fall for someone who doesn't live nearby."

The web fuels the trend, too. According to the center's web site, "The rise of Internet dating services predictably contributes to 'coast-to-coast couples' -- those who live on opposite ends of the nation and met on the web, but have a real, not just a virtual, relationship. Society has finally started accepting long-distance relationships as a viable alternative."

Long-distance marriages do have drawbacks, though. Warranted or not, couples do tend to worry more about infidelity. Furthermore, if children are involved, one partner shoulders almost the entire burden of raising them.

Still, "Commuter marriages are becoming a little more commonplace because people are willing to try them," Guldner says. "Part of that is technological. People think that what's out there now -- email and Internet and so forth -- makes it easier."

Office Romances No Longer Taboo

Is the office romance still taboo? Look no further than Bill Gates and Melinda French for the answer, says Patricia Mathews, MBA, president of Workplace Solutions. The founder of Microsoft met his wife, a Microsoft employee, at a company event in New York. "That's an example, perhaps, of a workplace romance that worked out very well," Mathews says.

Once feared for its potential to spark sexual harassment claims, the office romance is losing its stigma. According to a 2006 Workplace Romance Poll by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) and CareerJournal.com, restrictions against office dating have relaxed.

"Workplace romance is dropping the negative stigma that was associated with it in the past," the report read. "It appears that employees have become more open-minded about relationships between their colleagues." Most employers now permit office romances, even though they discourage it, the survey also discovered.

And more workers are warming to the notion personally, the same survey found. About 40% of workers polled said they engaged in an office romance at least once in their career, up from 37% in 2001.

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