Does Loving an Avatar Threaten Real Life Marriage?

Richard A Kolotkin, Maggie M Williams, Casey Lloyd, Earnest W Hallford


The purpose of this study was to examine the nature of relationship satisfaction and its predictors for those who simultaneously maintain committed relationships, in both real life (RL) and in an immersive virtual world, with either the same or a different partner. All 236 self-selected study participants were recruited on the virtual, multiplayer, online game and social platform of Second Life (SL), screened to insure that they had a committed relationship with both an avatar and a RL partner, and then asked to respond to an online survey about these relationships, and how satisfying they were. The results showed that (1) virtual committed relationships with a partner other than one’s RL partner were extremely prevalent (81.7%), (2) both males and females were highly satisfied with their virtual intimate relationships, (3) no RL relationship was found to be significantly more satisfying than any SL relationship in any statistical analysis conducted, (4) females tended to define their SL relationships as being significantly more satisfying than their RL relationships, (5) males tended to define their SL and RL relationships as equally satisfying, and (6) that those older in RL tended to be more satisfied with their virtual relationship than those who were younger. These results were interpreted in terms of their implications for culture, RL relationships and RL marriage.


relationship satisfaction, virtual relationships, online romance, avatar partners, virtual love, MMPORG, Internet romance

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