Lonely-hearters rejoice: cupid’s arrow is turning digital. Proof? More than 5% of Americans met Mr. or Ms. Right online, according to the Pew Research Center. More than 49 million Americans—a third of them unmarried millennials—have jumped onto the online dating bandwagon.
And why not? Online dating services provide scientific matches that are based on 400-question personality surveys. According to the Laws of Attraction, the other ingredients to a long-lasting relationship are physical attraction, reciprocity, similarity, and proximity. The latter is where e-dating swoops in. It allows busy professionals, who may have particular types, orientations, or lifestyles, to fish for potential partners on a global scale, without much risk or time commitment.
More good news: Cyber marriages also have higher satisfaction rates and lower divorce rates than offline couples— just 6 percent of couples who met online of couples who met online (as compared to 7.6 percent of couples who met traditionally) call it quits after 8 years, the average length of a marriage in the U.S.
Ready to click your first love letter in binary code? Not so fast. Internet dating can lead to happily ever after, but it can also be a dead end at heartbreak lane. So, we’re helping you uncross your wires by looking at the good, the bad, and the ugly when finding love on the Net.
Pretty little liar
Online dating has a dark side. According to a 2007 study published in the journal of Evolution and Human Behavior, roughly 9 out of 10 people included white lies on their dating profiles. The number one lie: size. On average, women fudged their weight by 8.5 pounds while men fibbed by only 2 pounds, although they misrepresented their heights, rounding up a half .
Luckily, Paul Bunyan-sized lies are rare. “There were a few extreme lies in the sample, including a three inch lie about height, a 35 pound lie about weight, and an 11 year lie about age,” writes Catalina Toma, an assistant professor of communications at Cornell University. “This may be one reason that people believe lying is so rampant in online dating, especially since these extreme lies are more likely to be circulated.”
Another study, published in 2009 in The Journal of Communication, found that most women’s profile photos were 17 months old and professionally retouched, with glossier hair, fuller lips, and a flawless complexion. However, men’s avatars were on average only 6 months old.
The silver lining: people are less likely to lie about their political affiliations. Dating is a place where your vote counts: 50% of people won’t date outside of their political party, according to a 2008 OkCupid survey, . And what about that other taboo: religion?? While apps like Tinder are winning the numbers game with 50 million users and counting, sites like JDate, Christian Mingle, Single Hindus, Muzmatch, and even Atheist Passions are gaining ground. “What I’ve seen is a trend going toward spirituality, as opposed to a defining religion,” said Rachel DeAlto, a relationship expert and dating coach, in an interview with Today. “Even when people are raised with religion, they’re more inclined to be open.”
Happily ever after
Need proof that true love can exist online? Here it is. With a click of a mouse, these online daters’ lives changed forever.
Chicago-native LaKitia met her husband, Jeremy, on Black Singles in 2008. “I ignored his profile based on his picture,” Lakitia admitted. “In it, he had an afro. He was hot. He was sweaty. He just looked annoyed.” He only scored an 83% in compatibility. After several bad dates, this Chi-town city slicker sent the Texas farm-boy a wink. The couple dated for 4 years, breaking up twice. “[We] always found our way back together,” Lakitia said. “After 4 years of dating, he proposed. “We’re embarking on our second wedding anniversary next month.”
Brita was in the middle of an internship in Columbus, Ohio when she signed up for OkCupid. “I was only interested in casual dating,” Brita said. “I already had a job lined up in New York.” Two and a half weeks before she was supposed to fly to the Big Apple, Dan, a Findlay, Ohio resident, sent her a punctuation joke and the two of them hit it off. But neither of them wanted a long-distance relationship. Agreeing to be friends, they skyped and chatted via phone for the next few months. “I was in love with him a full month before he asked me to be his girlfriend [by email],” Brita gushed. On Thanksgiving, she met the whole family, and by Christmas, the couple was discussing marriage. “We both agreed we would need to spend time living in the same state before getting married. I moved back to Columbus once my contract was up, almost a year exactly after our first date,” she said. On the weekend of their second anniversary, Dan proposed. The couple tied the knot five months later. They’ve been married for 2 ½ years.
What do you think about online dating? Have you tried it? Let us know in the comments section.