People are increasingly turning to the web to meet new people because it is easier and more widely acceptable. A new study has revealed that one third of the marriages start online.

Additionally, people who meet online are bound to have happier and more enduring marriages. The main appeal may be due to the fact that the Internet allows one to perform targeted searches.

This is reflected by a recent study from the University of Chicago, which showed that the internet has a role to play in the success of marriages.

Psychologists at University of Chicago conducted a study of 19,131 Americans who got married between 2005 and 2012. 45% of them met through a dating site, and the rest through social media, chat rooms, instant messaging, and other venues. To assess marital satisfaction, participants were asked specific questions like, “Please indicate the degree of happiness, all things considered, of your marriage.” They were also asked about the level of “chemistry” that still exists, their degree of affection, and whether or not they are still able to “understand each other’s feelings.”

The results of this study were published in the latest issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. This study was conducted by eHarmony’s scientific advisor, psychologist John Cacioppo under the condition that the finding will be published regardless of the findings and it will be conducted and analysed independently.

It revealed that:

“…marriages that began on-line, when compared with those that began through traditional off-line venues, were slightly less likely to result in a marital break-up (separation or divorce) and were associated with slightly higher marital satisfaction among those respondents who remained married…”

As a comparison of the divorce rates, offline marriages showed a rate of 7.67% while marriages that began online showed a much lower divorce rate of 5.96%. When the results of couple satisfaction were compared, online match making took the lead. Those who met in real life showed a satisfaction rating of 5.48 out of 10 while those who met online showed an average of 5.64 out of 10.

Online dating has been criticised for its non-personal and unromantic nature. A recent piece in The Atlantic said that online dating is  “threatening monogamy”. Concerns were also expressed about online dating wit it being described as, “more like Internet shopping.”

Despite the promising findings, the question still remains about how an online profile can determine a successful marriage. Grant Langston, vice president of customer experience at eHarmony says, “It’s a bit of a mystery to us, but it could be because people who sign up for online dating are more goal-oriented toward dating in the first place.” He also adds, “Unlike, say, meeting at a bar, people who join an online dating service may be more serious about finding love. They may also meet people they’re more compatible with from the start. For example, at eHarmony, customers fill out an extensive personal questionnaire so we can best match them.” 

Another advantage that an online profile offers according to Langston is, “When people aren’t anxious, they may fill out their profiles more honestly. And that transparency can save time when weeding out potential suitors”.

But Paul Hokemeyer, PhD, a New York City-based licensed marriage and family therapist offers his criticism about the topic. “There are many reasons to try online dating—maybe you live in a remote area, are too busy to go out and meet people, or are shy in social settings—but you may not want to put too much stock into how you met a person. Some relationships flourish based on qualities that a dating algorithm can’t measure and nothing beats the magic of locking eyes with someone for the first time.” 



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