Despite the Stigma, Online Dating Lowers Divorce Rates

One out of three Americans today meets his or her spouse online. Further, couples who meet online are less likely to end up in divorce court. They’ll also enjoy a more stable, fulfilling marriage than people who met offline.

These findings are reported in a new study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

How the study was conducted

The study examined the marriages of people who were wed during the seven-year period between 2005 and 2012, a group that included more than 19,000 people. Of those individuals, 35% met their mates online. Within that group, almost half met through a formal dating site. Those who did not meet via a dating site became acquainted through social media outlets, email, chat rooms, or some other online venue.

The findings

The study demonstrated that about 8% of people who met their spouses offline ended up in divorce court. However, only about 6% who met online applied for a divorce. The study was funded by eHarmony, which has led some to call its objectivity into question.

“What is clear from this research is that a surprising number of Americans now meet their spouse on-line,” according to the study. “Meeting a spouse on-line 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.”

The rationale

The authors of the research make the claim, based on previous studies, that people who seek a mate online are more likely to be honest about themselves. Additionally, there are more of the proverbial “fish in the ocean” in an online forum: a larger selection of suitable candidates are available who are looking for a life-long relationship.

“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,” according to the study’s lead author, John Cacioppo.

Other findings

There are other aspects of the study, besides the online one, that are worthy of note. A majority of Americans still meet their spouses outside of cyberspace. Of those that do, people who meet their mates at parties, churches, or school seem to enjoy greater marital bliss than those who meet on a blind date, at work, or at a bar.

When it does end …

For those whose marriages do end, however, it is important that divorce proceedings be handled professionally. The last thing any collapsing marriage needs, in addition to the heartache of the split itself, is legal and/or financial complications brought about because the parties did not make use of qualified legal representation. A competent attorney who specializes in family law is the best friend to someone whose marriage is coming apart.

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