Dating and Marriage Today
Gone are the days when people were more likely to meet their future spouse in school or at work. In the ever-increasing busy society in which we live, many are finding it harder to meet people through normal everyday social interactions. People are spending more time in front of a computer than face-to-face, and as a result, online dating has skyrocketed.
Because online dating has become so popular, researchers have begun studying the long-term effects of online dating on relationships, including how it affects marriage and divorce rates.
According to a University of Chicago study conducted on 19,131 people who married between 2005 and 2012, “more than one in three met their spouse online. Of those who met their spouse online, nearly half met through online dating sites.” The first conclusion from this study is that more than one-third of marriages in the United States now start online. Online dating sites were the most popular way of meeting someone above other social media channels, such as Facebook or chat rooms. The study also concluded that marriages that started by online dating were “slightly less likely to result in a marital break-up (separation or divorce).” Finally, the study concluded that marriages that started by online dating were “associated with slightly higher marital satisfaction among those respondents who remained married.”
Mixed Reactions to the Results
There are many critics that question the validity of these studies. In a Chicago Sun Times article, the author notes important facts about the research. The research was commissioned by the dating website eHarmony. According to officials of eHarmony, eHarmony funded $130,000 of the field research. The lead author of the research, John Cacioppo, is also a member of eHarmony’s Scientific Advisory Board. Further, one of the five co-authors is a former eHarmony researcher. Many critics see the researcher’s connection to eHarmony as showing a clear bias and non-objective role in the studies.
Other critics, like social psychologist Eli Finkel of Northwestern University, believe that the findings about greater happiness in online couples “are tiny effects.” Finkel published his own research last year and found “no compelling evidence” to support dating-website claims that their algorithms work better than other ways of pairing romantic partners.
Still, other articles seem to support the University of Chicago study, and cite online dating as creating happier marriages and a slightly lower divorce rate. The survey was based on questions about happiness with their marriage, as well as degree of affection, communication, and love for each other. “Marriages for people who met online reported a mean score of 5.64 on a satisfaction survey, compared with a score of 5.48 for people who met offline. Marriage breakups were reported in about six percent of the people who met online, compared with 7.6 percent of the people who met offline.”
What conclusions can we draw?
It is not clear yet exactly what conclusions we can draw from these preliminary studies on online dating and its effects on marriage and divorce rates. More studies will need to be conducted to determine if there are other significant factors affecting marital happiness and decisions to divorce. What is clear, however, is that online dating is here to stay and will remain a significant means of beginning new dating relationships going forward.
Online dating is becoming the one of the most popular ways that people begin dating today. It often leads to successful relationships and even marriage. But, just like any other relationship, online relationships too can end in divorce. If you need assistance with any family matter, such as divorce, do not hesitate to contact an Illinois family law attorney at Sullivan Taylor, Gumina & Palmer, P.C. to help you today.