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
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
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
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.