A man who spends up to 20 hours a day playing the virtual-reality video game Second Life may be getting more fulfillment from his online wife than his real one—and his non-cyber-spouse isn't feeling fulfilled at all. Ric Hoogestraat, a 53-year-old ex-teacher, says his virtual matrimony is only a game, even as his real wife talks separation. The Wall Street Journal looks at the surprising emotional power of virtual relationships.
The real woman behind Hoogestraat’s Second Life marriage takes their vow seriously—“there’s a huge trust between us,” she says. She once spent $480 to buy her faux spouse a private simulated island to recuperate from real-life surgery. Many gamers say they’re closer to their online friends than their real ones, and counselors confirm that 3-D marriages are collapsing because of virtual affairs. (Read more Second Life stories.)