Couples who meet online and get married are slightly less likely to divorce than couples who first meet face-to-face, new research finds.The study, a generally representative look at American couples married between 20, found that virtual meetings are becoming more of a norm: More than a third of married couples in that time met on the Internet.I’d always been attracted to mavericks, handsome men, who – after a year or so – made it clear they had no intention of settling down.“Although I felt a bit of a loser, I joined an online dating agency.Anna Wilkinson has been married for seven years, has two young children, and – although exhausted – is delighted with her lot.“I was 33, had just broken up with my boyfriend and was beginning to think I’d never have a family life.
“But the men I was introduced to were told what I wanted and shared those dreams. From the off we were on the same page and then it was only a matter of finding someone I also found physically attractive and that was Mark, the third man I met.” Wilkinson is far from alone.One in five relationships in the UK starts online, according to recent surveys, and almost half of all British singles have searched for love on the internet.Just today, nine million Britons will log on looking for love."Moreover, analyses of breakups indicated that marriages that began in an online meeting were less likely to end in separation or divorce than marriages that began in an offline venue." [6 Scientific Tips for a Successful Marriage] The study was funded by the dating site e Harmony.Independent statisticians oversaw the data, and e Harmony agreed that the results could be published regardless of how the data reflected on the website.These couples tended to be happier in their relationships than couples who met offline, the researchers report this week in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences."Our results indicate that of the continuing marriages, those in which respondents met their spouses online were rated as more satisfying than marriages that began in an offline meeting," said study researcher John Cacioppo, a psychologist at the University of Chicago.Online dating is also relatively popular among the college-educated, as well as among urban and suburban residents.And 38% of Americans who are single and actively looking for a partner have used online dating at one point or another.Another 21 percent met on social networks, while the rest got to know each other from a mixture of blogs, gaming sites, chat rooms, discussion groups and other online communities.Of the people who met offline, work was the most popular place to find a spouse, with 21 percent of couples reporting office romance.