Online dating is common and popular today, but does it really lead to the Happily Ever Afters promised by companies such as eHarmony and Match.com? Unfortunately for romantics scouring the Internet in search of spouses, it frequently does not, according to researchers at Michigan State University.
A study of 4,002 people located throughout the country found that couples that meet online are less likely to get married and more likely to break up than couples that meet through traditional means.
Although online dating sites are an excellent place to meet people, fewer than half of all online daters seek marital relationships, according to Aditi Paul, who conducted the study. The majority of digital daters are looking for casual dating and companionship, she says.
Paradoxically, one of the reasons online sites are such a good place to get a date also makes them less effective when looking for someone to marry. There are so many people to choose from "individuals find it difficult to be locked into one particular dating partner when they know that hundreds of other potential dating partners are available," says Paul. "Online daters know that they can easily look for other potential partners from the dating sites if the current relationship does not work out."
An element of distrust is also built into many online relationships because people worry that online daters don't tell the truth about themselves, which is a poor foundation for a marriage, Paul says.
Couples that meet online are more likely to break up, but it appears that once people are married the most important factor in staying together is the quality of the relationship. For romantic unmarried couples, it is important to spend time in developing the relationship to avoid breaking up, says Paul.
The good news for people seeking relationships on the Web is that there really is a good chance to get a date online. One in 10 Americans report using an online dating site or mobile application to find their partner, and as many as 66 percent of these online daters have gone on actual dates with the people they meet online.
Those are likely better odds than finding a date at your neighborhood bar.