What if the way you met your partner had an impact on the strength of your relationship? A recent study reveals the long-term differences between online and live dating. Explanations.
Nowadays, dating sites and apps are a common way to meet partners. But researchers realized that little was known about the long-term impact of online dating.
A common way of meeting, but few studies on the subject
While previous findings suggested that marriages starting online might be more stable, these results focused primarily on the early stages of relationships.
Curious, the researchers therefore wondered if there were long-term differences between a couple who met online or in reality. They then carry out new research aimed at studying the satisfaction and stability of couples in the long term, depending on their type of encounter.
Better marital satisfaction and stability for couples met in reality
To conduct this study, researchers surveyed 923 American adults. All were married and met their spouse on an online dating site or in real life. The researchers ensured that there was an equal distribution between the two types of encounters, among the participants. Furthermore, all individuals correctly reflect the American population, in terms of age, origin and gender. Scientists are keen to obtain the most representative results possible.
To evaluate participants’ couple relationships from different aspects, researchers use different measurement scales. They evaluate: the way in which society perceives their relationship based on their meeting, the approval of their loved ones, the physical distance between them when they first met, as well as the ease they have in confiding in each other.
According to participants’ responses, online dating leads to less satisfying and less stable marriages than dating in reality. According to the researchers, this is partly linked to external factors, notably the way in which society perceives their meeting as well as the approval of those close to them.
However, individuals who met online still report a good level of stability and general satisfaction. They evaluate all of the criteria studied above the average of each of the scales used in the study. Thus, relationships resulting from this type of encounter tend to be perceived positively by those involved.
More diverse marriages when dating is online
The participants’ responses were able to highlight other results. Researchers also learn that those who meet their spouse online are on average younger and have more romantic experiences before marriage, compared to those who meet in reality.
However, they seem to be faced with a greater geographical distance, leading to greater ease in confiding in each other.
Furthermore, there would be more homosexual marriages or with partners of different origins, when the latter meet virtually. All of these results suggest that online dating leads to more diversity in marriages.
Discoveries that present some limitations
The results of this study clearly show that there are differences between marriages resulting from online dating or in reality. Despite interesting findings, the study has limitations.
On the one hand, the researchers only recorded the participants’ opinions once. Without knowledge of how their views have evolved, it is difficult to make causal claims about relationships.
On the other hand, the study relies on the participants’ ability to remember and accurately report their first encounter. It would then be interesting to follow couples from the start of the relationship until marriage so that they rely less on their memories.
Only further prospective studies could help to better understand the differences between virtual and real meetings.