When my husband and I first began dating, we were more than hesitant about admitting to friends and family that we had met online. Our stories ranged from meeting at a petting zoo to sky diving to meeting through a church group. I remembered my high school English teacher saying, “The Irish never let the truth get in the way of a good story.” So we had fun making up our own story, and sometimes we still ad lib when the topic comes up in conversation.
Yet research shows we are among wiser couples who have found spouses online. In early June the University of Chicago published a study claiming that couples who met online were happier in their marriages than those who met through traditional means. The lead researcher, John Cacioppo, professor of psychology, studied over 19,000 people who were married between 2005 and 2012. Here are some of the findings that show putting a profile on CatholicMatch is one of the best ways to meet your spouse (hey, it worked well for us!):
- The number of people who have met their spouses online has grown the past decade, while meeting through traditional offline venues has declined. More than a third of the participants in the study met their spouses online.
- When meeting with strangers, participants showed greater self-disclosure and liking as long as there weren’t time constraints.
- Greater self-disclosure for online users meant longer lasting face to face friendships.
- The percentage of break-ups and divorces among those who met online were significantly lower than those who met through traditional means, even after accounting for other factors.
- While most researchers in the past grouped all online meeting venues together, Cacioppo separated them and reported that online dating sites ranked the highest for marital satisfaction (compared with chat rooms, discussion groups, social networking, virtual worlds, online communities, etc).
- Catholics were among a few groups of people who reported a greater effect of meeting their spouses online.
- Those who met online tended to be more educated and better employed than those who met offline.
- Among participants who met offline, those who grew up together, met through school, church, or other social gathering expressed the highest levels of marital satisfaction. However, those who met through work, family, bar/club, or blind date expressed the lowest levels of satisfaction.
The researchers theorized that meeting online allows for a greater pool of potential spouses, resulting in people becoming more selective. The researchers also credit some of the dating sites that use matching algorithms as the new matchmakers of the 21st century. Another theory is that people who meet online are more motivated to have a lasting marriage. Or perhaps those people have personalities that facilitates greater self-disclosure and greater liking.
Although we did not participate in the study, Alex and I can definitely speak to the advantages of being more selective through meeting online. We really appreciated the faith-based questions on CatholicMatch. Neither of us had been so picky in dating prior to joining CatholicMatch.
Searching profiles on our own time was much more efficient than timing in person happenstance encounters. Our time together was better spent in sharing common experiences, ideas, wishes, and dreams rather than exchanging facts that were easily accessible from our profiles.
With this research, I suppose it would be acceptable to disclose the truth of our meeting more public; it still makes a great story.