I try pretty hard not to give into confirmation bias. Which is to say that I believe that online dating is a valuable tool in your dating arsenal. And the last thing I want to do is give you studies that suggest otherwise.
But this Engadget synopsis of a Michigan State/Stanford study suggests that online dating leads to more break-ups than meeting in real-life. At least that’s what the headline said. I didn’t pay to download the study. ?
“The separation and divorce rates for folks who’d paired up online was much higher than their offline compatriots, and more online-founded relationships tended to end within a year after the survey. Is Online Better Than Offline For Meeting Partners? states that those who met on the web were more likely to date than actually marry compared to people that’d met IRL, too — by more than double.”
The study doesn’t get more specific than that, so we’re left here to interpret the lack of data for ourselves, through the lens of our own biases.
If you’re going to date for 2 years before you get married, what difference does it make if you met at a party or on OkCupid?
I could accept the possibility that people who met online are more likely to get divorced, even though a competing study from 2013 said the complete opposite. From a purely objective point of view, it doesn’t make any sense that there’d be a difference either way. I mean, if you’re going to date for 2 years before you get married, what difference does it make if you met at a party or on OkCupid?
On the other hand, I see a flaw in what the study seems to suggest, which is that there’s a problem with the fact that people who date online tend to break up quicker. Quite the contrary. If you never meet someone in real life, and you have a chance encounter that leads to love, you are more likely to stay in a bad or dead-end relationship because of your perception of scarcity. Whereas people who date online know that members of the opposite sex are abundant. It’s never fun to get dumped by someone who met you online, but if you do, you can activate your profile and have a date the next night, quite easily. Which is why it’s dangerous to talk about right and wrong when it comes to online dating.
What I think we can all agree is that online dating creates a tremendous amount of opportunity for people to create a love life from scratch. Some people abuse this and become players and overly picky. But the availability and options mean that there will be more dates, more short-term relationships, and more (healthy) break-ups than if you meet one guy every two years and go all in on him because you never meet anybody else.
Your thoughts, below, are appreciated.