Online dating is affecting how same-sex couples meet, and how long all couples stay together.
By Kari Paul
Published: Oct 17, 2017
(c) Wall Street Journal
Cupid, Tinder and the rest could actually create a more harmonious society. Online dating apps have been accused of fueling hook-up culture, and killing romance and even the dinner date, but their effects on society are deeper than originally thought.
The good news: They may not be so bad after all.
The rise of internet dating services could be behind stronger marriages, an increase in interracial partnerships, and more connections between people from way outside our social circles, according to a new study by economics professors Josue Ortega at the University of Essex and Philipp Hergovich at the University of Vienna in Austria. Today, more than one-third of marriages begin online.
Online dating is the second most popular way to meet partners for heterosexual couples and, by far, the most popular form of dating for homosexual partners. Sites like OKCupid, Match.co and Tinder, all owned by lnterActiveCorp and other sites from eHarmony to location-based app Grindr, are vastly changing the way our society functions. Dating apps have exploded in popularity since the launch of Apple’s first iPhone in 2007.
In the past, the study said, we largely relied on real-life social networks to meet our mates -friends of friends, colleagues, and neighbors – meaning we largely dated people like ourselves. Now, as we open our dating pool to strangers, the pool of potential mates has become more diverse, and the online dating world is “benefitting exponentially,” said dating coach Meredith Golden.
“We don’t always fall in love with our clone so a wider dating net, be it outside of race and ethnicity or tapping into a large LGBTQ pool creates happy unions,” she said.
Those unions could also lead to a more harmonious society, the study from Ortega and Hergovich found. The researchers created more than 10,000 simulations of randomly generated societies and added social connections to them.
When connections were made between just a few people of different races, “complete racial integration” would be almost inevitable, meaning that the majority of couples would be interracial. A rise of interracial couples can alleviate prejudice and racism in society, studies show, and usher in a multiracial future.
What’s more, online dating leads to could lead to happier couples, too. “Our model predicts that, on average, marriages created when online dating becomes available last longer than those created in societies without this technology,” they wrote.
There’s other research supporting this notion too. Online daters who marry are less likely to break down and are associated with slightly higher marital satisfaction rates than those of couples who met offline, according to a 2013 study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Of couples who got together on line, 5.9% broke up, versus 7.6% of those who met oftline, the study found. Of 19,131 couples who met on line and got married, only around 7% were either separated or divorced. The overall U.S. divorce rate is 40% to 50%, experts say.
Dating-site questionnaires and match-making algorithms could play a role in finding a more suitable partner, but people who sign up for dating sites are also likely to be ready to get married, Jeffrey A. Hall, associate professor of communications at the University of Kansas, previously told MarketWatch.
However, Chelsea Reynolds an assistant professor of communications at California State University, Fullerton who researches dating behavior, said some of the effects of on line dating are less desirable. Being able to search by specific demographics and traits makes it easier to fall into what she calls the “McDonaldization” of dating, narrowing down potential partners and eliminating people different from us.
“Young people today are more prone to serial dating and tend to get married later, if they marry at all,” she said. “Online dating might introduce an insatiable appetite for variety and novelty — a constant desire for the next best partner, the next quick sexual tryst.”