It’s official. Online dating is no longer a desperate plea for help. It’s mainstream and commonly accepted as a good idea. And it’s not just that I met my own fiancé on Match.com that has me saying this. There’s some science behind it too.
According to a recent study from the University of Chicago, couples that meet online end up in happier relationships than those who don’t. In fact, of the people surveyed, a third of all marriages between 2005 and 2012 had their genesis online. I mean, sure those numbers are skewed, seeing as how said survey was implemented online, meaning it attracted savvy internet users while leaving the abundant rural farmers off the list of potential respondents. But you get my drift.
The survey managed to get 19,131 respondents through one of those online fill-out-a-survey-for-money-or-credit types of sites. And by crunching the resulting numbers, the researchers found that while those who met somewhere offline – those tried and true methods of work, school, church, clubs, bars, etc. – reported a 5.48 out of 10 satisfaction level with their relationships. Meanwhile, those 45 percent who meet online reported a 5.64 out of 10.
A whole whopping 0.16 points.
While this might not seem like a lot, it is indeed statistically significant. When you take into account all the possible things that could have an affect on the scoring of satisfaction in a relationship – age, kids, income, education, place of residence, in-laws for god’s sake – the trivial aspect of where you met your spouse probably shouldn’t make that big of a difference.
And honestly, maybe it doesn’t.
According to the study, those who met online were also more likely to be older, employed, and have a higher income. Perhaps those slight statistical skews could be to credit for the slight gap in satisfaction level? Then again, the researchers most likely did some fancy statistical analysis that controlled for all of these variables, and the resulting difference is the small bit that where a couple met plays. But I never took statistics in high school or college, so I don’t quite get how all that stuff works.
So for the moment, let’s assume that the 0.16 point difference is indeed entirely due to meeting on a dating site. Why would this difference exist?
The researchers have a few hypothesis. For one, people on certain dating sites have already self-selected by being serious enough about trying to find a partner to have (most likely) paid to find one. They also benefit from a larger pool of potential dates and have the ability to screen through different criteria before agreeing to even acknowledge a suitor’s existence.
So if you’re single and seriously looking, I suggest giving one of the pay sites a shot. It worked for me. The only caveat is if you live in a place as small or smaller than Moscow, Idaho. Then the sites aren’t much help. Just not enough people.
Trust me, I’ve been there.
The paper, “Marital satisfaction and break-ups differ across on-line
and off-line meeting venues,” was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences by lead author John Cacioppo of the University of Chicago.