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Digital Dating and Virtual Relating: Conceptualizing Computer Mediated Romantic Relationships


  • Erich R. Merkle,

    1. Erich, R. Merkle, M. A., M.Ed., CFLE, LPC is currently a doctoral student at Kent State University. This manuscript was adapted from his master's thesis in Kent State's Family Studies and Human Development Program.
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  • Rhonda A. Richardson

    Corresponding author
    1. Rhonda A. Richardson, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor of Human Development and Family Studies in the School of Family and Consumer Studies at Kent State University.
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*Address correspondence to: Rhonda A. Richardson, Ph.D., School of Family and Consumer Studies, Kent State University, 100 Nixson Hall, Kent, OH 44242; phone (330) 672-2197.


This article reviews Internet history and culture that have contributed to the recent emergence of a subset of romantic interpersonal relationships known as computer mediated relationships. Characteristics of these relationships in comparison to face-to-face relationships are considered. This information may assist family professionals in developing a research agenda for the new millennium, as well as incorporating new content and strategies into family life education and clinical work in the area of interpersonal relationships.