Romantic Relationships Online

Why are people actually searching for romantic relationships online? What is the difference between personal relationships emerging in cyberspace and in real life?

From: Evelina Bühler-Ilieva

A Sociological Web Study

Why are people actually searching for romantic relationships online? What is the difference between personal relationships emerging in cyberspace and in real life? Does the internet appear to be the new institution, where partner relationships emerge, develop and dissolve – beside traditional institutions like workplace, school and disco? Our research object was the biggest online dating service in Switzerland (www.partnerwinner.ch) with more than 70’000 profiles (“virtual identities”). A total of 4110 German speaking users of this site took part in a sociological web survey, answering questions about their experience with online dating. The primary goal of our team was to examine well known scientific controversies about the real nature of romantic relationships in internet. Statistical data concerning attitudes, expectations and motivations of people going online have given us heuristic insight into the mechanisms that allow the emergence of online relationships: how often and how fast can romantic relationships emerge? Which types of persons are most likely to find and build up such ties in cyberspace? Where are the borderlines between online and offline life?

Our main assumption (“The cyberspace has a growing importance as a place where one can find his partner with increasing probability”) has been clearly confirmed. As many as 23% of respondents reported to have found long-term love relationships at “Partnerwinner.ch” and half of those relationships still existed at the time of the survey. Moreover, 71% of the people who succeeded in establishing a love relationship considered her or his partner to be “the right one”. Among those who reported having a love relationship online 12 % had already “virtually” fallen in love by the sheer exchange of email messages – that means without having ever met each other in real life. Falling in love actually happened after the first email for 4% of all successful online daters.

lic. phil. Evelina Bühler-Ilieva
Soziologisches Institut
Universität Zürich
Rämistrasse 69
8001 Zürich, Switzerland

Website: www.suz.unizh.ch/partnerwinner


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