(EOPC's comments in dark blue)
Even though cyberspace is filled with all sorts of sights and sounds - and becoming more multimedia rich every day - most relationships among people form and grow within typed text. E-mail probably accounts for most one-on-one relating, but message boards, chat, and instant messaging also bring people together. Even web sites, especially those of an autobiographical nature, can lead to friendships and romances. The site starts out as a one-to-many relationship between the creator and the readers - and over time, contact via private e-mail between a reader and the writer refines that relationship and moves it to a more personal, one-on-one level. Such text relationships are not unique to cyberspace.
Below are a list of hypotheses that I've gathered from articles I read and written, and from my discussions with all sorts of people, online and off.
The relationship between f2f (face to face/ or real-life) and online relationships
For some people, text relationships encourage more self-expression and self-reflection than f2f communication. For others, less.
Some people experience text relationships as more predictable, safe, and less anxiety-provoking than f2f relationships. (and easier to be manipulative and lie, also)
Some important aspects of a person may be obvious in-person but almost invisible online.
Elements of people's online relationships may reveal what's missing in their f2f relationships.
In text relationships, some people explore their interpersonal style and experiment with new behaviors. What is learned online can be carried into offline relationships.
Online relationships form and disappear more easily than f2f relationships. (objectification)
Intimacy develops more rapidly in text relationships than in f2f relationships.
Absent f2f cues and stimulation
Lacking f2f cues, text communication can be limited, ambiguous and an easy target for misunderstanding and projection. (and predation)
Lacking f2f cues, text communication disinhibits people, encouraging them to be more open and honest than usual, or encouraging them to act out inappropriately.
The lack of touch and body contact can significantly reduce the experience of intimacy in text relationships.
Some people are attracted to the silent, less visually stimulating, and non-tactile quality of text relationships.
People struggling with social anxiety or with issues about shame and guilt may be drawn to text relationships in which they cannot be "seen." (or predatory narcissism, or sociopathy)