Nervous about online dating? You’re not alone. Many who start out on their love-match journeys say they feel terrified, unsure, and skeptical about the possibility of finding true love online. Well, a new study appearing in this week’s online issue of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, concludes that not only are couples who meet online able to find love, they have lower divorce rates and appear to be happier.
The online dating site, eHarmony recently commissioned Harris Interactive to conduct a survey of more than 19,000 people in the United States who were married to members of the opposite sex between 2005 and 2012. Independent statisticians verified the results of the survey.
Of the 45 percent of couples who met through dating sites and the 21 percent met through social networks like Facebook, researchers found that more than a third of those surveyed met their spouses online–and divorce rates were remarkable low– divorce (5 percent) and separation (2.5 percent).
Those who met offline were more likely to be very old, very young and not wealthy; they also were most likely to meet each other at work (22 percent), through friends (19 percent) or at school (11 percent).
The researchers found that 7.6 percent of those who met offline had gotten divorced, compared to 5.9 percent of those who met online. This difference held up even when researchers adjusted their statistics to account for high or low numbers of people who shared similarities like age or income.
The study also found that those who met online were slightly happier in their marriages. Their spouses, however, didn’t get a say in the survey, and the study doesn’t provide a layperson-friendly way to understand the differences in how happy the marriages seemed to be.
Markie Blumer, an assistant professor at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, who studies marriage, said the study is “pretty solid,” although it has some flaws.