With the growth of the internet, has also come the growth of people who meet their significant other online. For quite some time it seemed that forming a relationship online was a joke. A few people did it, but for the most part it was not taken very seriously. In recent years though, it has become much more common to hear about couples meeting online. In fact, most people probably know of at least one person who either met their significant other online or at least tried online dating. Online dating has become a very effective way to form successful relationships with people who share similar interests.
A recent study found that 34.95% of marriages between 2005 and 2012 began online. (Cacioppo, et al.) This included meeting on dating websites, social networks, and other online venues. The main goal of this study was to find how successful these relationships were in comparison to those that met offline. They asked those who were married in that time frame about marital satisfaction and whether the relationship had ended in divorce or not. What they found was that those who started a relationship online reported greater marital satisfaction and only 5.96% of online marriages ended in divorce compared to 7.67% of offline marriages. (Cacioppo, et al.)
Another study took a very similar approach, but included couples who were dating along with those that were married. (Paul) The results of this study varied from the previous study. Out of 2,923 people surveyed, only 280 had met their partner online. Eight percent of married couples who met online reported being divorced two years later, while only two percent of couples who met offline reported being divorced. After only one year, the percentage of couples in online dating relationships who broke up was higher than that of offline couples. But after two years, the numbers became almost equivalent and there was not really a difference between online and offline meetings. (Paul) In the long run, dating relationships that began online were just as successful as those that began offline.
One reason there could have been a discrepancy between the two studies, was the fact that the sample size was much smaller for the second study. Not only were there very few people who met online, but only ninety of them were actually married. With that small of a sample size, it is very easy to skew the results and not accurately represent the total population. In addition, both authors point out that where a couple meets is not the only thing that must be taken into consideration when predicting success in relationships. There are many other factors that were not considered in these studies that could play a significant role in the success of a relationship.
All things considered, it would be safe to conclude that in general the place that you meet does not have a large effect on the success of a relationship. Relationships that begin online can be just as successful as those that begin offline. It really depends on the two people and how they choose to handle the relationship.
Tim Hedrick is a man from Arizona who found success with online dating. He had been divorced for almost three years and was not looking for a relationship. His older brother and sister-in-law decided to create an account for him on Match.com. All of the sudden Tim started getting random emails from women who were much younger than him. He thought he had been spammed, and called his older brother, a computer programmer, for help. His brother informed him that it was not actually spam, but that he had signed Tim up for a dating website. There was one catch though, his brother had said that Tim was 30 years old, had no kids, and was a corporate executive. (Hedrick)
Tim decided to continue using dating websites, but of course changed his information. He was actually almost 40, had four kids, and was not a corporate executive. Though the inquiries went down, he was still contacted frequently on Match.com. He eventually decided to switch to Bigchurch.com, because it made it much easier to find people with similar beliefs. It was on this website that he met Eliza. Because Eliza lived in Texas and he did not want to enter a long distant relationship, they decided to simply become pen pals. After a few weeks, they started talking on the phone almost daily and soon realized they wanted to meet in person. He flew to Texas to meet her, and now Tim and Eliza are married and live in Arizona. (Hedrick)
Stories like Tim’s are what most people probably think of when they hear about online dating. In fact, dating websites are one of the most popular ways that couples meet online. Of couples who met online and were married between 2005 and 2012, 45.01% of them met their spouse on a dating website. (Capiocco, et al.) That was just four years ago, and in recent years the popularity of dating websites has continued to increase. From 2013 to 2015, the amount of American adults using some sort of dating site or app, increased from 11% to 15%. (Smith)
Many of these people may not be looking to enter into committed relationships though. In 2013, only 23% of the users reported being married or in a long-term relationship with someone they met online. (“Online Dating & Relationships”) One big reason for this could be because of all of the options that are available to people. If they do not find the person that is perfect, they just move on to find someone else. Unfortunately, this is one of the biggest issues with dating websites. Instead of realizing that nobody is going to have every characteristic you want, many online daters want to find the perfect match and never settle down into a relationship.
Overall though, dating websites are a very positive thing through which many people can find success. These websites allow for opportunities to meet new people; which users may otherwise never come in contact with. In addition, it matches them up with people who have similar interests, allowing users to meet people with whom with they will most likely be compatible. These positives definitely make up for the negatives of these websites.
Dating websites are not the only places that couples can meet online. Almost 20.87% of people who met online and were married between 2005 and 2012, actually met on social networking sites and the other 34.08% met on other various sites like email or gaming sites. (Capiocco, et al.) Jeffrey Hall, a communication studies professor, set out to find the characteristics of those who met through these different sites. He separated them into four main categories—dating websites, social networking sites, one-on-one communication (e.g. email, instant messaging), and online community (e.g. chatroom, multiplayer game). Using the data from Capiocco, et al., he found that those who met on dating sites, social networking sites and one on one sites were equally satisfied with their relationship, but those who met through online communities were generally less satisfied. (Hall)
Hall also found that those who met on online dating sites spent less time on the internet than the other three groups. This is one of the biggest differences between meeting on dating websites and through other online venues. These people seem to be spending much of their time on the internet doing various things, such as playing games or social networking. They may not necessarily be looking for a relationship, but since that is where they spend their time it should be expected that they will meet other people there. As they begin to interact, they realize that they are attracted to someone and they eventually meet in real life. These relationships are much less forced than those formed through dating websites. There is not pressure to try to get a date, instead you are simply getting to know someone and it soon turns into something more.
Andrea Monfort met her husband, Kory, on Facebook and it actually started as an accident. Kory saw Andrea’s profile through a mutual friend and thought she was someone else. Kory messaged her, and though she was not who he thought she was, they continued to talk. At this time, Andrea was living in Arizona and Kory was in South Carolina, which meant that they only communicated by phone or online. After three months they decided to start dating, even though they had never met in person. Two months after they started dating, they finally met when Andrea flew to South Carolina by herself. Many of Andrea’s close friends were concerned about her meeting him by herself, but she chose to go anyway. Thankfully for Andrea everything turned out okay and her and Kory got married just four months later. (Monfort) They have now been happily married for seven years.
Though it turned out okay for Andrea, she said that she would not recommend meeting up with the person alone as many people can lie on the internet. In 2012, a study showed that 53% of Americans lied on their online dating profiles. These lies usually had to do with small things like height, job status, or money. (Hodge) These seem like insignificant things to lie about, since being a different height is not really going to put anyone in danger. But it should still be concerning that people can put whatever they want on the internet, and no one really knows the truth until they meet in person. This makes it much easier for people to present themselves as someone totally different than they really are.
Because people can lie so easily, many would agree that safety is one of the biggest concerns with online dating. In fact, a recent study gave women two different scenarios and asked various questions about self-protection. (Cali, et al.) One scenario they were asked out by someone on Facebook who they had barely interacted with. In the other, they were asked out by a classmate who they had only interacted with a few times in class. As would be expected, many rated their level of self-protection higher for online meetings rather than offline meetings. (Cali, et al.)
One thing that was interesting was that those who had been on a date with someone they met online answered differently than those who had not. These women rated almost the same for both scenarios. For offline meeting they rated higher than the others, and for online meetings they rated lower than the others. (Cali, et al.) On one hand this could be a positive thing, that these women see meeting anyone they have barely interacted with as a potentially dangerous situation. On the other hand, it could mean that they have somewhat let their guard down for those that they meet online. For most, they probably have been able to balance self-protection measures, as they realize it is important but that they must not let the fear dominate them.
Since it is so important to practice self-protection, one must know the best ways to protect themselves from being caught in a dangerous situation. It is important to always make sure you go on dates in public places while you are still getting to know the other individual. In addition, family and friends should be involved in the process. They should know where you are going, and if they see any red flags in the relationship you should listen to their opinions. It is also very important to not give out too much information, as you never know how the other person will use it. Though people may seem like they are genuinely kind, there are many people online who have ulterior motives and often it is hard to see them when you are in love.
In 2005, Raymond Merrill met Regina Rachid online. (Marquez and O’Sullivan) Merrill lived in San Francisco, while Rachid was in Brazil. Merrill went to visit her two times, and they spoke often online and on the phone. He went down to see her one last time before he retired and moved to Brazil to marry her. But Rachid had completely different plans. With the help of a few other people, Rachid murdered Merrill and proceeded to drain his bank account. For months he had been sending Rachid money for everything that she needed. He bought her an SUV, sent money to run a business, and even paid for her daughter to go to college. Unfortunately, Merrill was too in love to notice an issue, despite warnings from his friends and family. (Marquez and O’Sullivan)
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has a warning on their website about this type of situation. Many people use the internet to meet new people and instantly form close relationships with them. They then start asking for money and eventually run away with it. The FTC specifically warns about users wanting to leave a site and speak through more private means such as email. In addition, they warn about people talking about love right away, saying they are from the United States but being in another country, and being unable to visit. This has clearly become a common problem as the FTC also has a specific place to report these kinds of scams on their websites. (“Online Dating Scams”) This is just one of many ways that people can use online dating to hurt other people.
Online daters really need to be aware of the kind of tricks people are trying to pull on them and do whatever they can to avoid these issues. Unfortunately, though, there are so many people who have not protected themselves when meeting people online and have ended up having to deal with the consequences. In reality, it is just like meeting someone anywhere else and if you use common sense, you too can avoid being in many dangerous situations.
Though there are some negatives to online dating, the positives definitely make it well worth it. Maybe you have been considering joining a dating website or have fallen in love with someone you met online. The good news for you is that you are not alone. Stories like Tim Hedrick’s and Andrea Monfort’s show that online relationships can turn into very successful long term relationships. As the internet continues to grow, more and more people will continue to meet online. This is definitely a positive thing, as it offers many more options for people to meet like-minded people with whom they are compatible.
Cacioppo, J. T. et al. “Marital Satisfaction and Break-Ups Differ across on-Line and off-Line Meeting Venues.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, vol. 110, no. 25, Mar. 2013, www.pnas.org/content/110/25/10135.full.pdf.
Cali, Billie E., et al. “Stranger Danger? Women’s Self-Protection Intent And The Continuing Stigma Of Online Dating.” Cyberpsychology, Behavior & Social Networking 16.12 (2013): 853-857. Academic Search Premier. Web. 27 Nov. 2016.
Hall, Jeffrey A. “First Comes Social Networking, Then Comes Marriage? Characteristics Of Americans Married 2005-2012 Who Met Through Social Networking Sites.” Cyberpsychology, Behavior & Social Networking 17.5 (2014): 322-326. Academic Search Premier. Web. 12 Dec. 2016.
Hedrick, Tim. Interview by Carol Brown. 30 Nov. 2016.
Hodge, Greg. “The Ugly Truth of Online Dating: Top 10 Lies Told by Internet Daters.” The Huffington Post, TheHuffingtonPost.com, 10 Oct. 2012, www.huffingtonpost.com/greg-hodge/online-dating-lies_b_1930053.html.
Marquez, Sandra, and Ciara O’Sullivan. “Finding Love–And Death–Online.” People 66.25 (2006): 123-124. Academic Search Premier. Web. 12 Dec. 2016.
Monfort, Andrea. Personal Interview. 1 Dec. 2016.
“Online Dating & Relationships.” Pew Research Center: Internet, Science &Amp; Tech, 21 Oct. 2013, www.pewinternet.org/2013/10/21/online-dating-relationships-2/.
“Online Dating Scams.” Consumer Information, www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0004-online-dating-scams.
Paul, Aditi. “Is Online Better Than Offline For Meeting Partners? Depends: Are You Looking To Marry Or To Date?.” Cyberpsychology, Behavior & Social Networking 17.10 (2014): 664-667. Academic Search Premier. Web. 14 Nov. 2016.
Smith, Aaron. “15% Of American Adults Have Used Online Dating Sites or Mobile Dating Apps.” Pew Research Center: Internet, Science &Amp; Tech, 11 Feb. 2016, www.pewinternet.org/2016/02/11/15-percent-of-american-adults-have-used-online-dating-sites-or-mobile-dating-apps/.