Contemporary Family Therapy

, Volume 39, Issue 4, pp 249–260 | Cite as

From Online Dating to Online Divorce: An Overview of Couple and Family Relationships Shaped Through Digital Media

  • Christiane EichenbergEmail author
  • Jessica Huss
  • Cornelia Küsel
Original Paper


From the very early stages of initiating relationships to types of post-break-up behaviors, the internet has the potential to play an influential role in all areas of family and particularly couple relationships. This paper examines how ICTs (“information and communication technology”) can shape such relationships. The impact on the various stages of relationships is systematized (relationship development, couple and family formation, separation) with a special focus on intergenerational opportunities and conflicts associated with modern media usage. Against the background of psychological and media communication theories and psychotherapeutic approaches as well as empirical findings the following topics are considered: (1) Initiation of relationships through ICTs (e.g. meet new partners through online dating); (2) Impact of digital media on relationship development and existing partnerships (e.g. new opportunities and internet-related challenges that have to be faced by couples) (3) Influence of ICTs on separations (e.g. online mediation, getting divorced online). In summary, the role of ICTs in new, existing and separated partnerships and families is multifaceted. An outlook on further developments as well as research desiderata is given.


Digital media Couple and family relationship Online-dating Online-communication Family models 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Christiane Eichenberg
    • 1
    Email author
  • Jessica Huss
    • 2
  • Cornelia Küsel
    • 3
    • 4
  1. 1.Institute for Psychosomatics, Medical FacultySigmund Freud Private UniversityViennaAustria
  2. 2.University of KasselKasselGermany
  3. 3.University of Bundeswehr MunichMunichGermany
  4. 4.University Hospital Carl Gustav CarusClinic for Psychotherapy and Psychosomatic MedicineTU DresdenGermany

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