Among respondents who remained married at the time of the survey, marital satisfaction was observed to vary across the on-line venues in which they met their spouse [ Traditionally, people met their spouse in off-line settings: work, school, social gatherings, and so forth.
For example, respondents who met their spouse through e-mail were older than would be expected based on the age of all respondents who met their spouse on-line, whereas the respondents who met their spouse through social networks and virtual worlds were younger.
These results raise questions about treating on-line venues (or even on-line dating sites) as a homogeneous lot and also underscore the potential for selection bias and the importance of addressing it.
Results indicated that of the continuing marriages, those in which respondents met their spouse on-line were rated as more satisfying than marriages that began in an off-line meeting.
Moreover, analyses of break-ups indicated that marriages that began in an on-line meeting were less likely to end in separation or divorce than marriages that began in an off-line venue.
As in prior research (2), marital break-ups were defined as separated or divorced and constituted 7.44% of the sample. 21.66% of the respondents who met their spouse offline met through work, 19.06% through friends, 10.97% at school, 6.77% through family, 8.73% at a bar/club, 4.09% at a place of worship, 9.99% at a social gathering, 7.57% grew up together, 2.66% met on a blind date, and 8.51% met through “other” venues. Of the respondents who met their spouse online, 4.64% met through instant messaging, 2.04% through e-mail, 9.51% in a chat room, 1.89% through a discussion group/posting board, 20.87% through social network, 2.13% in a virtual world, 3.59% on a multiplayer game site, 6.18% in an online community, 1.59% on a message/blog site, 45.01% through an online dating site, and 2.51% met through “other” online venues. Of the 45.01% who met through an online dating site, 25.04% met on e Harmony, 24.34% on Match, 7.21% on Yahoo, 5.71% on Plenty of Fish (POF), 24.74% were spread in smaller numbers ( We found evidence for a dramatic shift since the advent of the Internet in how people are meeting their spouse (3, 8).
Analyses of the weighted demographic data indicated that more than one-third of those married between 20 met on-line (Fig. We next investigated the characteristics of respondents who met their spouse on-line vs. Briefly, males, 30–49 y olds, Hispanics, individuals from higher socioeconomic status brackets, and working respondents more often reported meeting their spouse on-line than off-line (Table 1). Analyses indicated that there are significant differences in the characteristics of individuals as a function of the specific venue in which they met their spouse across on-line venues, on-line dating sites, and off-line venues (Tables S2–S4).
We next focused on respondents whose marriages had ended in separation or divorce (i.e., marital break-ups) by the time of the survey.
We performed a χ test to investigate the extent to which the percentage of marriages ending in separation or divorce differed for individuals who met their spouse on-line vs. The percentage of marital break-ups was lower for respondents who met their spouse on-line (5.96%) than off-line [7.67%; χ = 0.16].
Those who were married relatively recently, who were unemployed or in “other” employments, and who identified their religion as Catholic, Spiritual but unaffiliated, or Atheist exhibited larger effects for meeting on-line ( summarizes the percentage of respondents who met their spouse through various off-line venues.