STYLE ARTICLE

'Go Online to Get Married; Stay Offline to Date' May Not Ring True

Is the prevalent thinking right? No, says a new study

One in 10 Americans report using an online dating site or mobile application to find a partner, and 2/3 of these online daters have gone on an actual date with a person they met online.

A recent study sponsored by eHarmony.com found that one out of three marriages these days starts online. (Sidebar: yeah, those numbers don’t really add up) Skipping over the dating site’s vested interest in the outcome of its survey, it is a commonly-held notion that when someone is ready for “serious” dating, they head online, whereas meeting people through shared activities “in real life” suffices for casual daters. A new study, however, turns that assumption on its head after following almost 3,000 couples for four years (click here for the full report).

The results suggest that couples who met their partners online were more likely to be involved in dating relationships than marital relationships compared to couples who met offline. Furthermore, the breakup rates for both marital and non-marital romantic relationships was found to be higher for couples who met online than couples who met through offline venues.

There are, of course, any number of factors that contribute to meeting, dating, entering, and ending a romantic relationship (relationship quality, duration). But this study identified a number of things that run counter to the traditional thinking about online vs. offline dating. Let us compare.

Other studies have demonstrated that the advantages of meeting partners online include:

CHOICE

Old thinking: A wide range of potential dating partners to choose from, thus increasing odds of finding a better match

New research: Too many options leads to individuals finding it difficult to be locked into one particular dating partner when they know that hundreds of other potential dating partners are available. This also leads to delayed commitment to the person with whom they ultimately choose to date and start a relationship.

COMPATIBILITY

Old thinking: It’s easier to find like-minded people who share similar values and interests

New research: Relationships initiated online follow a different, slower trajectory than offline relationships. Before online partners decide to meet face-to-face, they engage in longer time frames of online courtship where they text, private message, and call each other. Thus, these relationships are less matured and developed in the same time frame as their offline counterparts.

INTIMACY

Old thinking: Online interactions achieve quick intimacy in relationships

New research: 86% of online daters have reported being concerned about falsification of personal information and deceptive presentation of their dating partners. Therefore, daters take more time to get to know and trust their partners than their offline counterparts.


We’re curious: what do you think? Do your anecdotal experiences show the old or new ways of thinking to be true?

Image: Some rights reserved by Don Hankins

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