How I Met Your Mother – The Rise of Online Dating

by | Feb 25, 2019

Picture credit: online for love

Online dating is coming up on 25 years old. The first site, was founded in 1995 (three years before Google). The internet and social media have a big effect on how we meet our love interests.

A Surprising Proportion of Young Married Couples Met Online

In a 2017 survey of brides by the wedding services company The Knot found that 19% of new brides met their spouse through an online dating site and another 17% through social media. Similarly, a study of 19,131 people by the University of Chicago who were married between 2005 and 2012 found that about a third of them met online, including online dating sites, social media, email, multi-player video games, etc.

According to MIT Technology Review, online dating is the second most common way for heterosexual couples to meet. For same-sex couples, it is far and away the most popular.

Source: MIT Technology Review. Note that the above charts show data through 2010 – the prevalence of online dating has increased since 2010.

According to Statistic Brain Research Center, couples who meet online get married quicker than those who meet in analog: couples who meet online get married after 18.5 months on average, whereas couples who meet offline get married after an average of 42 months.

Online Dating and Relationship Success

The University of Chicago study found that couples who met online have happier, longer marriages. “These data suggest that the Internet may be altering the dynamics and outcomes of marriage itself,” said the study’s lead author, John Cacioppo. Why might meeting online lead to longer, happier marriages? The study authors speculate a number of reasons:

  • Relationships that start online may benefit from selectivity and the focused nature of online dating,
  • Meeting online also may provide a larger pool of prospective marriage partners,
  • Online dating services screening and matching may lead to greater success in pairing people.

Not so fast . . .

A 2014 study from Michigan State found the opposite of the University of Chicago study. It found that couples who meet online are also less likely to get married and generally have a poorer relationship quality that those who met offline.

Online Dating is Changing Society

Based on computer modeling and data from the real world, this study found internet dating is changing social integration. Online dating is leading to a greater proportion of interracial marriage and overall greater diversity among couples. Additionally, the study authors state that “Our model also predicts that marriages created in a society with online dating tend to be stronger,” supporting the U of Chicago results over those from Michigan State.

Society is more accepting of interracial marriages. According to Mic Daily: In 1987, “Pew found that only 13% of Americans completely agreed that interracial dating was acceptable; that share grew to 56% in 2009. Young people are even more open-minded: Roughly 9 in 10 millennials said they’d be OK with a family member marrying someone of another race or ethnicity.”

There Are A Lot of Online Dating Services

According to Online Dating Magazine, in addition to the biggies,, eHarmony, OKCupid, Tinder and the like, there are an estimated 2,500 online dating sites and apps in the U.S. and another 5,000 in the rest of the world.

Not Just for Losers

Online dating has lost much of its stigma according to the Pew Research Center. Views of online dating have changed over the past 20+ years with 59% of those surveyed by the Pew in 2015 saying that it is a good way to meet people and only 23% saying that online daters are desperate.


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