I remember attending a wedding about thirteen years ago in which the newlyweds had met on an online dating site. Back then, it was a little hush-hush—the couple had made up a fake “how we met” story, and were a little embarrassed about their online connection. Now, that scenario sounds ridiculous to me. Even if you yourself haven’t tried dating online, you almost certainly know someone who has… you may even know someone who’s gotten hitched after sending flirtatious tweets back and forth. In fact, it kind of seems like everyone you know is dating online in one way or another.
Well, not everyone—but plenty, according to a new study. The study, which surveyed almost 20,000 people who married between 2005 and 2012, found that 35 percent of marriages started online. Almost half of those began on dating websites, while the rest met through social networking, chat rooms (people are still using those?!), and other online forums.
There’s even some evidence to suggest that those couples who met online might be happier and less likely to end in divorce than the general population. Nearly 8 percent of marriages that were initiated offline ended in separation and divorce; for couples who met online, that rate dropped to 6 percent.
The researchers who carried out the study pointed to past research to explain why that may be—previous studies have found, for example, that people may be more honest interacting online than off. The pool of possible partners is also often larger online…especially for those of us out of school or at jobs that either discourage inter-office dating or don’t have a big/great pool to choose from.
Finally, online dating sites are for just that…dating. And if you’re serious about finding a relationship, it’s reasonable to expect you’ll have better luck finding someone similarly relationship-minded on a site designed to make a match rather than your local bar.
Online dating sites also make it easier to narrow your pool of options by possibly important factors like hobbies or religion—which explains why people who meet at social gatherings, school, or places of worship also reported greater marital satisfaction than people who met at a bar or on a blind date.