Don’t be ashamed, lovebirds: It’s OK if you met on OkCupid.
New research reveals that couples who meet online are marginally happier and slightly less likely to break up than couples who meet in the real world.
The study, published Monday by the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, was conducted by Harris Interactive and led by John Cacioppo, psychology professor at the University of Chicago. It was commissioned by the online dating site eHarmony.
The researchers looked at American couples who married between 2005 and 2012; roughly a third of the respondents reported meeting their spouses somewhere in cyberspace (though not always on an online dating site). The data shows that almost 5.96 percent of the married couples who divorced or separated over the seven-year period met online, versus 7.67 percent of those who met offline.
The online couples also reported being slightly more satisfied with their significant others, earning a “marital satisfaction score” of 5.64, versus 5.48 for the offline couples. The score was based on questions in which the couples were asked to rate their degree of mutual affection, love and communication.
“These data suggest that the Internet may be altering the dynamics and outcomes of marriage itself,” Cacioppo wrote in the study’s abstract.
In fact, Ashley Madison notwithstanding, the Internet seems to be pretty good for marriage all around. Of all the various places couples meet, people who met in online venues reported being more satisfied with their marriages. People who met on social networks and multiplayer games were the most satisfied, reporting a score of 5.72. People who met on websites specifically aimed at dating came in second with a score of 5.69.
In the offline world, meeting through friends, family and the workplace still topped the satisfaction list, with couples who met on blind dates coming in last.
If nothing else, the proliferation of dating sites -- Match, eHarmony, Zoosk, Lavalife and countless others -- has obliterated the onetime stigma associated with meeting online. It’s a far cry from, say, 2002, when the Wall Street Journal published an article about how couples who meet online tend to lie about their origin stories. (“Online dating seems so … predatory,” one young dater told WSJ at the time.)
Conversely, the journal Psychological Science published an extensive study last year that found that the notion of meeting a romantic partner online has been steadily shedding its stigma since the 1990s.
But while the stigma may be dying, it’s not completely dead, at least according to the Facebook page “Online Dating is for Desperates, Losers and the Ugly,” whose admin wants you to “get a date in the real world.” Twenty-five likes and counting.