Online Relationships Make Better Marriages, Last Longer [Study]

Kim LaCapria

Online relationships are still marginalized in mainstream society -- and while an internet-based dating relationship is often criticized, a study has revealed that online love often results in a longer, stronger marriage than that of "short-distance" counterparts.

Shows like Catfish and the early horror stories of internet misrepresentation have given online relationships somewhat of a bad name, as if the geek stigma of finding love on the internet wasn't bad enough already.

And if you've experienced the singular torture of meeting the love of your life online only to endure the resultant misery of fate placing them on the other side of the world, you also probably know the flipside -- it's not just difficulty meeting partners that makes your long-distance love alluring.

Of all the people getting married nowadays, fully one third met their love online -- so the boat of geeky web daters is pretty well populated right now. But if you're in it, people will often tell you that it's "not the same," ask if you're sure your love is really who they say they are, or if you're separated by significant space, tell you your relationship isn't "real" or doesn't "count." (Because it totally lacks the authenticity of a bar room hookup at 4 AM! Why wouldn't that be a better way to find a life partner than discussing common interests online?)

eHarmony, a company with an interest in destigmatizing both local and long-distance online love, commissioned a survey to examine which sorts of relationship has the best staying power -- and found firmly in favor of internet love. Findings were published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Human Sciences, and you should bookmark this for the next time someone tells you to meet someone "in real life," because online dating is lame.

Researchers noted how the "advent of the Internet, social networking, and online dating has affected how people meet future spouses, but little is known about the prevalence or outcomes of these marriages or the demographics of those involved," examining data from 19,131 respondents who got hitched between 2005 and 2012.

Most respondents were female, Christian, college-educated, and in their mid-30s. And when they found love online, the study indicated, they were more likely to have a lasting relationship.

Researchers summarized:

"Marriages that began online, when compared with those that began through traditional off-line venues, were slightly less likely to result in a marital break-up (separation or divorce) and were associated with slightly higher marital satisfaction among those respondents who remained married."

Though the research on online relationships making longer, stronger marriages was published a few months back, the study is picking up again today in the news sphere -- and given the popularity of the manner of meeting, we were pleased to see again that online love has its definite advantages.