A whole bunch of love stories have one thing in common this wedding season: The couples met on the Internet. And hereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s some great news for those newlyweds: Married couples who first connected online have a slight edge when it comes to relationship longevity and marital satisfaction, according to a new study out of the University of Chicago.
The results are based on a survey of more than 19,000 people who tied the knot between 2005 and 2012. (Full disclosure: eHarmony.com commissioned the survey, but before the data was analyzed they agreed to publish the results no matter what, and independent statisticians oversaw the analysis.) Turns out, more than one-third of the now-married couples met online. And while you may think that the surveyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s results are due to the fact that people who meet their spouses online tend to be older, thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s not the case: The researchers controlled for age, the year the couple was married, and more.
So what accounts for the added bliss? The researchers didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t study the Ã¢â‚¬Å“whyÃ¢â‚¬Â factor, but lead study author John Cacioppo, PhD, a psychology professor at the University of Chicago and a scientific advisor to eHarmony.com, has some ideas: For one, it follows that people who feel ready for marriageÃ¢â‚¬”who arenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t commitment-phobesÃ¢â‚¬”are typically the ones who go looking for it online.
Then, of course, there is the sheer number of options you have on the Internet, says Cacioppo. In one night, you can see 10 men in a barÃ¢â‚¬”or hundreds of menÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s dating profiles.
ThereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s also a big difference in self-disclosure, says Cacioppo.
Online, youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re learning a lot more about those dudes much fasterÃ¢â‚¬”a list of interests, values, even their reasons for revving up their dating profile, says Diana Kirschner, PhD, a relationship expert and CEO of LoveIn90Days.com, who was not involved in the study. Ã¢â‚¬Å“You can read that in five minutes,Ã¢â‚¬Â she says. Ã¢â‚¬Å“You could not get all that information talking to someone at a party for five minutes.Ã¢â‚¬Â
But even if you prefer meeting dates at parties versus on profiles, thereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s something to be learned from all that online disclosure: Ã¢â‚¬Å“DonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t be afraid to share what you enjoy the way you would do in the profile,Ã¢â‚¬Â says Kirschner. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Talk about what gives you a lot of passion or pleasure or joy.Ã¢â‚¬Â YouÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll set yourself up for a healthy and happy relationship if you find someone who knows aboutÃ¢â‚¬”and is intoÃ¢â‚¬”the real you from the start.
And just as youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢d list your favorite activities in an online profile, stick to those when youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re getting to know someone in person, too.Ã‚Â Ã¢â‚¬Å“I think itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s important to suggest activities that youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re really having fun with,Ã¢â‚¬Â says Kirschner. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Suggest a mini golf outing or a trip to the beach that youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re going to enjoy and be present for.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Overall: Ã¢â‚¬Å“Be honest and authentic,Ã¢â‚¬Â she says. ThatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s great advice for long-lasting loveÃ¢â‚¬”whether youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re several years into your relationship or are feeling out a new guy.
photo: iStockphoto/Thinkstock More from Women's Health:
Online Dating 2.0
10 Secrets of Super Happy Couples
How to Create an Awesome Online Dating Profile