By John Clark
With roughly one in three Americans now meeting their future spouses via online dating, researchers are starting to analyze the strength of these new relationships. And early results are somewhat surprising.
According to a recent study, couples who meet online are less likely to file for divorce than more traditional spouses, which certainly seems to defy cultural expectations.
According to a report from the Huffington Post, the new study, which was published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 35 percent of the study’s 20,000 respondents met their spouses online.
Within the group of people who had met their spouses online, roughly half met their partners through formal online dating sites, which have seen a dramatic rise in popularity over the past ten years. Other people met their spouses through chat rooms, e-mail, and social media sites, sources say.
And surprisingly, couples who meet online had a divorce rate of roughly 6 percent, which is less than the average divorce rate among more traditional couples, who separate at an 8 percent clip, according to sources.
According to the paper, meeting a spouse on the Internet “is, on average, associated with slightly higher marital satisfaction and lower rates of marital break-up than meeting a spouse through traditional (off-line) venues.”
And while this finding may seem counterintuitive, the authors of the study offered a few reasons for the satisfaction gap between the two kinds of relationships.
First, the researchers believe that potential partners may be more honest with each other when communicating online, sources say.
In addition, the pool of potential mates is much larger online than, say, in one’s neighborhood, which means that people who meet online are able to be more selective when finding a spouse.
Moreover, online dates may be more serious about finding a long term partner. “It is possible that individuals who met their spouse online may be different in personality, motivation to form a long-term marital relationship, or some other factor,” speculated the study’s lead author, John Cacioppo.
But before everyone in marriages with more traditional origins calls a divorce attorney, it should be noted that couples who meet in school, at social gatherings, or church have higher rates of satisfaction than couples who meet at a bar or in the office.
As Cacioppo observers, marital outcomes “are influenced by a variety of factors,” and where a person meets his or spouse is “only one contributing factor.”