Screening for partners

Life is about change. If there was no change, we’d all ultimately still be slithering around on our bellies in primeval ooze. Without change, we’d still be drilling holes into our skull to relieve headaches and strapping chicken bottoms to open sores to try to cure the plague. Far scarier than all of these prospects of course is that without change body shirts and leg warmers would still be in fashion. So change is a constant and it knows no bounds and the internet has been a major agent for change in the last decades. This is seen perhaps nowhere more graphically than in the arena of how we meet potential romantic partners. Where once it was only via common social friends that you might meet a new person now online dating agencies abound. That’s fine but, in a new study, researchers wanted to find out whether meeting someone online or offline can have an influence on the likely success of your relationship.

For the study, the researchers followed more than 4000 people over the course of two years. They established in that time if they were in a relationship, whether they met the person online or offline, and then noted if the relationship broke up.

The results showed firstly that there was a huge disparity in how many people had met their partners online and offline. In the course of the study, 2643 people met their partners offline while only 280 met a partner online. Only 32 per cent of respondents who met their partners online were married compared to 67 per cent who met their partners offline. However, eight per cent of married couples who met their spouses online compared to approximately two per cent of married couples who met their spouses offline ended their marriage in separation or divorce. Additionally people who met offline had an average relationship length of 19.1 months compared to 15.68 months for people who met online.

All in all, it looks as though the meeting someone offline gives you a much better chance of having a lasting and successful relationship. The researchers say that online dating has been shown to provide individuals with too many options to choose from. This leads to a lack of exclusivity where individuals find it difficult to be locked into one particular dating partner when they know that hundreds of other potential dating partners are available. Additionally, the trajectory of online-initiated relationship development is different from relationships that develop in traditional offline settings. Within a given timeframe, online relationships are less matured and developed compared to their offline counterparts.

Maybe screening potential partners via a screen isn’t a positive evolution after all.

Terry Robson

Terry Robson

Terry Robson is the Editor-in-Chief of WellBeing and the Editor of EatWell.

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