A Third Of Recent Married Couples Met Online, So Can the Online Dating Stigma Die Already?

Besides all of the profound educational and professional uses of the internet, the niche of online dating has recently shown extremely positive results. Specifically, companies like eHarmony and OKCupid have excelled in their understanding of tech devices and social media as a critical aspect of our modern lives and have successfully integrated the dating world into how we function both online and offline.

A recent study from the University of Chicago has illustrated that more than a third of recent marriages (about 35% from 2005 to 2011) in the United States were ignited online, with 45% of couples meeting on dating sites.

Most people would expect online relationships to be less stable for many reasons, like online dating’s capacity for deception or the notion of undesirable and socially awkward people in dating pools. In reality, the University of Chicago study found that relationships that began online are slightly happier and less likely to split than those that started offline, with a divorce rate of only 6%

What’s more, in the study surrounding online dating, sociologist Michael Rosenfeld of Stanford University stated in the American Sociological Review, that "couples who meet online are more likely to progress to marriage than couples who meet in other ways." In fact, these couples were twice as likely to marry as opposed to those who met offline, arguably because those who join dating websites can clearly state that they are looking for long term or short-term relationships. 

This being said, we would expect to see the number of dating sites like eHarmony or Match.com expanding, or at least their number of users — both because of the gradual acceptance into mainstream society and because dating websites play off the very design of our culture i.e. how people have “no time” to dedicate to finding a match, they want a “sortable environment” or they simply want easy sex. Surprisingly, even though our culture only seems to be emphasizing this sort of fast paced and organized behavior, New York Times' Jenna Wortham reported that online dating site traffic has leveled off. 

In response to a study that showed that there was “no compelling evidence” matchmaking software was better than traditional methods of dating, matchmaking websites added offline member events like craft beer tastings and pasta making classes to their virtual winks and arrows. 

"Societally, we are going to increasingly meet more of our romantic partners online as we establish more of an online presence in terms of social media," says Caitlin Moldvay, a dating industry senior analyst for market research firm IBISWorld in California. "I do think mobile dating is going to be the main driver of this growth." Not just any growth, but specifically growth in the target market of millennials who are more comfortable integrating mobile dating with face-to-face interaction. 

Ultimately, regardless the proliferation of online dating, the results of the quality of online vs. offline dating are still contended. One should certainly note that many studies are far from definitive and sites like eHarmony commission these very same studies on the results of online dating. Nonetheless, the evidence still highlights the significant transformation of how romantic relationships developed during the last decade and the part dating websites had to play. Perhaps the traditional view of online dating as taboo may shift to become a regular part how we find matchmaking bliss.