"The Internet may be altering the dynamics and outcomes of marriages itself," according a new study that found that a third of recently-married couples met online, and that couples who met online were more likely to be in happy, stable relationships.
Surveying 19,000 U.S. couples who married between 2005 and 2012, University of Chicago researchers learned that 35 percent of them met online. The next most likely place where spouses met was work -- at only 21.6 percent of offline dating locations and 14 percent of all locations.
Among offline meeting locations, spouses reported that the next most common ones were meeting through friends, at school, at a social gathering, through family, or at a bar or club.
Among online meeting locations, social networking sites such as Facebook and online dating sites such as eHarmony were most frequently used. The couples who met online tended to be middle-aged and make higher incomes, according to the study published this week in PNAS, a scientific journal.
More than 100 surveyed couples met on email and another 100 or so met due to comment's they posted on blog sites. (I can just see it, "janedog1345, your comments on Gov. Dayton's budget were so romantic. Let's meet for coffee!) And more than 200 met through multiplayer games such as World of Warcraft. ("Ah, Witchkiller849, the way you slayed that dragon was so wicked. How about dinner sometime?")
I joke, but the big finding from the study is that online meetups are more likely to produce happy, durable marriages. The rate of divorce or separation was slightly lower among the couples who met online (6 percent) versus those who met offline (7.7 percent).
The folks at eHarmony are probably doing cartwheels over this study, which showed it was the most frequently used of online dating sites and also produced one of the highest rates of marital satisfaction -- online or offline. Marital satisfaction rates were slightly lower among couples who met offline through blind dates, work or bars and slightly higher among couples who grew up together or met at social gatherings or places of worship.