MONDAY, June 3 (HealthDay News) -- If you're looking for the perfect mate, a new study suggests you might be on the right track if you turn to the Internet: Married couples who met online were slightly more likely to be happy and stay together than those who ran into each other the old-fashioned way.
The difference was small, although the number of people who met online was big, and researchers who study marriage say the study has some weaknesses. Still, lead author John Cacioppo, of the University of Chicago, said it should give comfort to anyone who fears that meeting online isn't the best way to begin a romantic relationship.
"I hope this encourages people to feel authentic and not odd if they feel so busy that they're going online to meet people," said Cacioppo, director of the university's Center for Cognitive and Social Neuroscience. "It's a new environment and a new world, and it's not one we should be afraid of."
In the new study, eHarmony, an online dating service, commissioned Harris Interactive to conduct an online survey of more than 19,000 people in the United States who were married to members of the opposite sex between 2005 and 2012. Independent statisticians verified the results of the survey.
Since the marriages were so recent, the rates of divorce (5 percent) and separation (2.5 percent) were low.
The researchers found that more than a third of those surveyed met their spouses online. Of those, 45 percent met through dating sites, while 21 percent met through social networks like Facebook.
Those who met offline were more likely to be very old, very young and not wealthy; they also were most likely to meet each other at work (22 percent), through friends (19 percent) or at school (11 percent).
The researchers found that 7.6 percent of those who met offline had gotten divorced, compared to 5.9 percent of those who met online. This diff
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