What’s an “internet wife” anyway?

Police allege man mur­dered by inter­net wife’s ex-hus­band

It’s the head­line that both­ers me. Just at a glance, I’d think that the mur­der vic­tim had an online-only rela­tion­ship with his “inter­net wife,” like those peo­ple whose MMORPG char­ac­ters or Sec­ond Life avatars get “mar­ried.” But, no, he met the woman on the inter­net, and mar­ried her in real­i­ty after her divorce from the pre­vi­ous hus­band was final.1

I’ve seen peo­ple refer to those who meet online and have a meat-world rela­tion­ship this way before, but it’s annoy­ing. If you meet some­one on the inter­net, and the two of you mar­ry, is that woman an “inter­net wife” and that man an “inter­net hus­band” for­ev­er?

By that log­ic, peo­ple should have bar, school, church, and gym spous­es too, yes? My moth­er has a base­ball game hus­band. My sis­ter has a golf course hus­band. I think my broth­er met his wife at work, so she’s his work wife.

Now, if I thought peo­ple would fol­low this nam­ing con­ven­tion to its log­i­cal con­clu­sion, and have mul­ti­ple spous­es, it wouldn’t be quite as annoy­ing. Some­how, though, I doubt that broth­er is going to acquire a rug­by wife or some such.2

Any­way, the head­line should have read some­thing like “Police allege man shot by wife’s jeal­ous ex-hus­band” (I’d pre­fer active voice, but it seems they don’t).


1 No details are giv­en as to tim­ing, or whether she left for the new guy.

2 Wait, do women play rug­by? I’ve nev­er met one who did. Hmmm.

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