A recent study funded by the dating site eHarmony found that couples who met online were slightly less likely to divorce (and slightly more satisfied) than those married couples who met offline. The study looked at American couples married between 2005 and 2012 and found data that showed that couples who met online (which were about 1/3 of the participants in the study) tended to be happier and have a lower divorce rate. The study consisted of 19,131 marriages. So why are couples who meet online generally happier and are less likely to get divorced? While it is impossible to draw causation from this correlation, there are several theories as to why this is true.
What the Study Found
Out of the 19,131 couples married between 2005 to 2012, 1/3 met online. Out of the over 19,000 couples, 92 percent were still together. And what about the other 8 percent? Well, 7.44 were divorced (6 percent who met online vs 7.6 who meet offline) and a little over 0.5 were sadly widowed. The study also used a satisfaction index to rate the marriage’s overall satisfaction. Online couples scored higher than offline couples on the satisfaction index (5.64 compared to 5.48). So why do married couples who meet online have a (slightly) lower divorce rate and a higher satisfaction index? We will look at the 5 possible reasons below.
If someone is on a dating site such as eHarmony or Match.com, they are obviously looking for a romantic relationship. It takes motivation beyond just driving down to the bar and checking people out to create a profile on a dating site and fill out all those questionnaires. Some dating sites cost a monthly fee as well, so if someone is willing to pay money for the service, they are serious about finding someone. For those who meet on sites other than actual dating sites, such as in chat-rooms or social networking sites, you must be motivated to keep the other person interested in continuing to contact you even though one of the fundamental parts of deciding to date someone or not is removed: being able to physically be with the person, hear their voice, smell them, etc. Pictures can be exchanged and Skype is great too, but they still don’t compare to actually being in the same space with someone.
More Fish in the Sea
There is a larger pool of potential mates online, allowing individuals to better find someone who is a good match for them. It may be that the perfect person for you is located in another state or even another country… unless you go on vacation and bump into them, you’d likely never meet. The World Wide Web connects you with people you would normally never bump into, allowing you the opportunity to meet many more potential spouses.
Older (And Wiser?) Demographic
The study (and similar studies) found that people who met their spouse online were generally in the age range of 30-49. It could be that people of these ages are more likely to be serious about finding and keeping a spouse versus younger, more inexperienced individuals. People in this age range have probably already had several relationships in their lifetime as well, giving them the advantage of knowing what sort of person they should choose as a spouse.
A large amount of evidence from several different sources suggests that people tend to be more open and share more personal facts about themselves when chatting online. People simply open up more than they do in face-to-face interactions. This may have something to do with there being less fear of rejection, or at least the immediate effects of it. You reject someone online by simply not responding to messages or emails. In face-to-face interactions, a rejection may require harsh words and expressions. The lessening of this fear of rejection makes people feel more confident about being honest and sharing personal information about themselves. Studies show that self-disclosure on both sides of a relationship leads to a firmer friendship, and therefore, better marital relationship.
Dating sites such as eHarmony and Match.com have users fill out questionnaires and personality inventories, and then matches them with people who have received similar, compatible results. Compatibility is very important in any relationship—-but especially in marriage. It is common sense that if you are compatible with someone and share the same interests, you will most likely argue less and generally get along better than those couples who are complete opposites.
So if you haven’t found your perfect match yet, maybe it is time to look online. After all, more than 1/3 of married couples are now meeting online (according to the study).
For more information on this study, head to: http://www.livescience.com/37100-online-dating-happy-marriages.html