A relationship that starts out on the internet. Usually begins over-optimistically and end up shortly after the reality check bounces; however some do manage to cross into the next levels of phone - date - live-in - marriage - divorce.
I've known at least five couples that are now going out in real life, three of them married.
My husband and I met on the internet years ago on a MUD. And, we are still going strong. Internet romance is ideal because it gives you a chance to get to know each other emotionally and intellectually before you know each other physically.

In the hundreds of hours we spent together in the beginning of our relationship, all we did was talk. We shared our dreams, our past and we got to know each other inside and out. Something, no matter how hard you may try, you just can't duplicate when you meet in person first.

Internet relationships are not right for everyone. And, I would certainly caution anyone who gets involved in it to be careful. But, for those it works for, it works out well.

I was involved in an online relationship about a year ago. While it wasn't particularly painful it also wasn't particularly uplifting. At the time I fooled myself into thinking that our interpersonal connection was more real than it was, but eventually came to the conclusion that the same thing that I felt had brought us together was also keeping us apart. Sometimes it is just too hard to get past the cold artifice of the computer. While it is possible for a computer based relationship to work I feel that more often we fall in love with the idea of love than an actual person. I realized afterward that I need to get out more.

Internet relationships, from my perspective, are the works of satan. A couple of years ago, I got into one with a guy I knew from school. We never spoke offline for some reason or another, and he transferred schools later. We continued our relationship for almost two years, I even thought I was falling in love with him. Then, one day, out of nowhere he just told me that he had never loved me at all and that the relationship was a joke he played because he knew how I felt for him.

It turns out that in his group of friends, I had some bizarre cult following and they would take turns talking to me online. I made desperate attempts to take this relationship offline, but he always made some excuse to prevent it. So maybe not all bad internet relationships involve child molesters or three hundred pound elementary school custodians claiming to be macho men that pose for the cover of GQ and drive Italian sports cars.

Needless to say, I haven't spoken to him since, even if he has sent me IMs on AOL Instant Messenger. Any guy that tells you he loves you and fakes a two-year relationship isn't worth my time of day.

The concept of a relationship over the internet isn't going to go away, unfortunately. In my opinion, it dwells on the outer fringes of insanity to think that two people that are potentially thousands of miles apart who have never spent any realistic amount of time looking each other in the eyes, or spending REAL time together can actually profess romantic love with one another.

Call me old-fashioned, but how can one really know that they are in love with someone if they can't see that spark in the other's eyes at the first glance? How can they know that they're not being played like a cheap violin if they have to wade through trillions of electrons and thousands of miles before even reaching the beginnings of the truth that they're searching for? The answer: they can't. It's all an illusion, and a damned good one at that. The mere thought that someone that is alone can actually connect with someone on a personal level, without leaving their safe surroundings...what a wonderful concept, right? Wrong! If there is one thing that I have learned from my years trolling around on IRC, and every instant messenger that there is, it's this: that "love" evaporates as soon as you turn off your computer.

I can say this because I have lived on that outer fringe. I met my ex-wife on IRC. I never had that spark. I'm paying the price for it now.

I met my wife at college and we dated, 'fell in love', got married and had a baby. I was terribly unhappy. I was raised in an abusive distorted family where I did not learn how to handle relationships and had gotten married because that was expected.

About one year after my daughter was born my wife moved out.

Our marriage was a sham. We never truly learned what each of us was looking for and were too afraid share our true feelings.

The marriage was a prison for both of us the thing that finally made me see this was that I had fallen for a girl online. We had never talked on the phone only chatted and email and never more than simple things that friends would talk about. When I first called her something changed and I realized that I had made a mistake in marrying my first wife.

This may sound like a horror story for my ex but she and I are still friends and we have moved on with our lives and are happier now. We function as adults and are able to be the parents our daughter needs.

Yes people need to make the connection. Yes they do need a spark. Some people can do that through the Internet and other cannot. With every relationship there are challenges and it takes a lot whether or not the relationship is online or off. The real magic of the Internet and computers is that you can create a relationship faster. Whether or not it’s a good one is up to the parties involved.

Internet Relationships should not begin with romance--I agree that Romantic Love should have that "spark"--something you cannot find online, but only in person.

But, you can still talk to someone (as long as both parties are honest) and learn to care deeply for each other, just as people two, three hundred plus years ago corresponded with letters. What can come from deep understanding and mutual affection is up to you. You can develop a romantic love if you find that spark in person (just as RockLobster did) or you can find that you have found a wonderful friend and confidante. Honesty, of course, makes it delicate and difficult--unless you have mutual friends there is rarely a way to tell--, but the rewards of setting a relationship's foundation with a strong friendship and intellectual companionship (Whether through the internet or not) can be greater than any relationship that begins with the spark--and fades into nothing.

This e-mail from my wife to a local radio station, after a phone in on the subject of internet relationships, says it all far better than I could:

"I just wanted to give you guys my two cents on the subject of internet romances. I feel somewhat like an expert since that is how I happened to meet my wonderful husband. Let me give you a little background.

"I was in Yahoo talking with a friend of mine who lives in India (it's cheaper than calling!) and he was off for a minute and someone named pesky73 pm'd (private messaged) me. I usually would hit ignore but this time I went ahead and started chatting with him.

"We talked for a while and exchanged yahoo mail addresses. We started to email each other more and more and finally exchanged our personal, non-Yahoo email addresses. It got to the point where we were constantly mailing each other throughout the day. I got a computer at home when I realized the weekends were miserable because I couldn't hear from him, he's from England so it made it a bit tricky.

"I finally asked him for his phone number and called, but we were really already in love.

"I went over to England for 2 weeks last November and he came back here to Oklahoma for a visit and just never left. We were married in January and I have never been so happy in my whole life. I am a vigilant supporter of internet relationships. It beats meeting someone in a bar, and after months of just written correspondence we really knew a lot about each other. Plus, hardly anything in my life has affected me quite like coming out of customs at Gatwick airport in London and seeing the man I loved so much in person for the first time."

I just wanted to, from my side of the story, concur with her entirely. I personally have never been so passionate about anyone or anything as when she and I were clinging to the wires on either side of the Atlantic. The beauty of it was, amongst other things, that we were doing something that hadn't been endlessly charted out over film after film, book after book. We really had no idea what we were doing so we bluffed it and figured it out as we went along.

We got the endless warnings, about how we might not have any physical chemistry, about how one or the other might be an axe murderer, a friend even warned me that she might not like how I smell! Certainly for my part, any suggestion of "love" received blank stares and shaken heads. But our eventual meeting at Gatwick airport on November the fourth 2000 couldn't have been scripted any better by Hollywood's best.

What can I say, it obviously worked, for us. There are always going to be problems in any kind of romance, but just because this way of beginning a loving relationship is relatively new and not well understood yet, please don't reject it out of hand. The numbers of "cyber couples" are growing, and the success of future marriages which are based on initially "meeting" via the internet will be the only test worth paying attention to.

See you in 40 years! We'll be here.

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