Online dating is here to stay. That much is clear. But is meeting someone online the most promising way to meet a mate? Just how well do relationships started online fare?
Researchers at the new Austin Institute for the Study of Family & Culture, where I’m a senior fellow, analyzed nationally-representative data from the 2011 “How Couples Meet and Stay Together” (HCMST) survey that addressed those questions. In a research short you can read in its entirety here, they conclude–mirroring much of social science–there’s no simple answer, but there are conclusions to be made. Humans, they are complex.
Basically, the data has lots of couples, many of whom met well before the Internet age. One should expect them to stick it out longer than more recently-fashioned pairs. So while it appears that meeting online is the least likely venue to succeed (for two years), it looks like those who met online more recently don’t look that much different from those who met in more traditional ways–in church, at work, at a bar, etc.
By the way, the Austin Institute has several other interesting posts of late, on the gender gap in church, polling support for same-sex marriage, and the politics of marriage and divorce among younger Americans.