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Love in the Time of Caller ID

When we’re always in touch but never in reach, can true love blossom?

Second Life, Second Wife continued...

A significant proportion of online players also report having "real" dates with someone they first met online.

And then of course, there is online infidelity, whether it's a husband having a virtual affair with a woman he's never met, or, in the case of Ric and Sue Hoogestraat of metropolitan Phoenix, a husband whose avatar has another (online) wife, complete with two digital dogs, motorcycles, and a virtual mortgage. Sue told the Wall Street Journal in August 2007 that it was upsetting when she tried to communicate with Ric, then her husband of seven months, and found him "having sex with a cartoon."

That's All She Wrote

The same electronic toys that help us keep in touch, however, can also help us sever the ties that bind, a phenomenon that has many social psychologists concerned.

In a 2005 study of 40 seventh graders published in the web-based Journal of Computer-Mediated Communications, researchers from the Indiana University in Bloomington found that nearly one-fourth who reported using instant messaging said they had used it to break up with someone. And in a 2006 survey by cell phone maker Samsung Technologies, reported in The Washington Post, 11% of respondents said it was OK to break up with someone via text message, just as Britney Spears is widely reported to have done with Kevin Federline.

The cold, impersonal nature of such rejection can magnify the very real pain felt by the one who is jilted, but also, surprisingly by the one who does the jilting. In a study of the mental and physical health effects of unrequited love, Roy F. Baumeister, PhD, and colleagues in the department of psychology at Florida State University reported that romantic rejection is "a symbolic evaluation of one's deficient worth -- in other words, a humiliating blow to one's self-esteem."

In contrast, rejecters feels guilty, especially if they feel at fault for having led the others on or given them false hope.

"But even rejecters who did not lead the other on may still feel distressed about inflicting pain, thus creating the seeming paradox of feeling guilty despite self-perceived moral innocence," the researchers found.

Feelings of worthlessness and guilt may also be symptoms of clinical depression. And in fact, break-ups may lead to an episode of major depression, which can be triggered by such major life events as interpersonal disputes, role transitions (when the lover is no longer part of a couple), and by interpersonal deficits, leading to social isolation or feelings of being deprived.

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What physical changes do you experience when in love?