Researchers from the University of Arizona have found that married couples who met on dating apps are more likely to be unhappy in their relationship when compared to those who met offline.
“The results provided evidence of an online dating effect, with online daters reporting less satisfying and stable marriages than offline daters”, the study found. The researchers surveyed over 900 couples, with half of those being relationships that originated from online dating platforms.
One factor that could be causing online dating marriages to be more unhappy is the impact of “societal marginalisation”, where society is less accepting of some types of relationships.
“The stress of societal marginalisation often causes cyber sweethearts to experience less ‘network approval’ — meaning support and acceptance from friends and family — than lovers who first linked in the flesh”, explained the New York Post.
“The support that couples do (or do not) receive from their social networks can have important repercussions for the quality of their relationships”, the study found. “Research has shown that the more friends and family approve of a person’s relationship, the more love, satisfaction and commitment they feel toward their partner”, it added.
Interracial or same-sex relationships can experience even greater societal marginalisation, weakening each partner’s faith in the union.
Another factor that could impact the relationship is age, as couples that meet through online dating are more likely to be younger. Furthermore, as dating apps provide lots of choice for singles, it’s possible that users feel overwhelmed and then make the wrong decision on who to pursue a relationship with.
So…what now? The researchers provide suggestions on how to fix this trend:
- Address the barriers faced by online dating couples, including issues of distance and societal marginalisation.
- Educate the public to normalise relationships that originate in online dating and / or help singles find partners in their network.
- Relationship counsellors should recognise that marriages formed through online dating have unique challenges compared to offline connections.