If you're on the lookout for a spouse, ladies and gentlemen, look no further than your computer. According to a latest study, couples who met online have higher levels of marital satisfaction and are less likely to split up than those who were first introduced in offline venues.
Researchers from the University of Chicago, Gestalt Research, and Harvard University published their findings in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Their study, "Marital satisfaction and break-ups differ across on-line and off-line meeting venues," revealed interesting data that suggests that "the Internet may be altering the dynamics and outcomes of marriage itself."
Researchers John T. Cacioppo, Stephanie Cacioppo, Gian C. Gonzaga, Elizabeth L. Ogburn, and Tyler J. VanderWeele found that from 2005 to 2012, over one-third of marriages in the U.S. began on the Internet. Their findings were based on a nationally representative data of 19,131 respondents married during that period. Of the 34.95 per cent of couples who met online, most of them (45.01 per cent) met through online dating sites like eHarmony and Match.com. Others met through other avenues like a social network (20.87 per cent); chat room (9.51 per cent); online community (6.18 per cent); instant messaging (4.64 per cent); multi-player game site (3.59 per cent); and email (2.04 per cent). A few also met through a message/blog site, a discussion group/posting board, and other sites.
Married couples who met online are less likely to end up in divorce, the research shows. Marital break-up among couples who met in traditional offline venues was pegged at 7.67 per cent compared to only 5.96 per cent of spouses who met online. Moreover, couples who met online and are still together reported slightly higher levels of marital satisfaction (5.64 out of 7) than those who began their romance offline (5.48 out of 7).
While further studies need to be conducted on what drives the apparent success of romances that start on the Internet, the researchers hypothesize that part of the reason could be the "larger pool of potential spouses" online which gave them a wider selection in "identifying a compatible partner." Another reason could also be the fact that there is greater self-disclosure among strangers online than in face-to-face meetings. The fact that those who visit online dating sites are motivated to "form a long-term marital relationship" is also another reason why matches made in Internet heaven are more likely to succeed.
As the use of the Internet gets more and more widespread each year, the study may just have revealed a possible solution to curbing the divorce rate and in making the Internet a more acceptable venue for meeting a future spouse.
By Nicel Jane Avellana, contributor at r/ally, the mobile collaboration platform that lets you socialize your goals.
So maybe you don't have a six-pack or a Master's degree — there's no reason why you shouldn't be yourself on your profile, says <a href="http://shannyinthecity.com/about/">Shannon Tebb</a>, a dating consultant based in Toronto. Tebb adds you should never lie about your weight or job, and honesty is the best way to start a relationship. Also, if it is your first time using a dating site, don't be afraid to state it on your profile.
There's nothing, we repeat, nothing sexy about a spelling mistake on your dating profile. Experts at Lavalife.com add this can <a href="http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/lavalife-delivers-10-golden-rules-to-improve-your-dating-game-185536162.html">indicate a lack of care</a> to other users.
Once you start researching dating sites, you're going to find many to choose from. Depending on what you're looking for (paid services, free sites or ethnic-specific sites, for example), always stick to one. "Don't overwhelm yourself, stick to one first. You may get too many messages and may not have the energy to respond to them all," Tebb says.
Eating, travelling, working out — most people tend to write these "hot topic words" on their online dating profiles. In 2013, get more specific and if you can, <a href="http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/lavalife-delivers-10-golden-rules-to-improve-your-dating-game-185536162.html">describe ideal dates or your favourite memories instead</a>, LavaLife.com adds.
What are you looking for? Casual dating? Hook-ups? A long-term relationship? Tebb says when writing your profile page, make sure your expectations are visible. "This will help you weed out the people who aren't looking for what you want," she says.
One study found profiles with pictures get <a href="http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/lavalife-delivers-10-golden-rules-to-improve-your-dating-game-185536162.html">eight times the response compared to those without</a>, according to Lavalife.com. When you're putting up photos, try choosing professional ones and add variety to show off some of your interests and hobbies.
If you do enter into a relationship or seem to have exhausted all your possibilities on a site, Tebb recommends deleting your account. This way, you're not distracted and can focus on another site or method of dating.
Before you make your profile public, ask a <a href="http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/lavalife-delivers-10-golden-rules-to-improve-your-dating-game-185536162.html">close friend to proofread it for you</a>, according to Lavalife.com. Your friends will give you an honest opinion and help you find the perfect picture.
If you just started a new hobby or attended an event in your city, make sure you keep your profile updated with news, Tebb adds. Also, keep your page light — don't overwhelm users with your past relationships or what you're not looking for.
So maybe you won't find love, but this doesn't mean you should quit. If you haven't met someone you mesh with, Tebb suggests using one site for at least three months before moving on.
Follow Leah Eichler on Twitter: www.twitter.com/@RallyYourGoals