Online Dating Websites Fail To Produce Healthier Or Happier Relationships, Suggests New Research Study From

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A new research paper indicates that internet dating websites offer several benefits to singles seeking companionship, but generally do not improve the odds of finding a lifelong partner or a healthy long-term relationship.

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Some of the perceived advantages of online dating (such as the ability to quickly meet and interact with a large number of potential partners) actually end up being detrimental to users.

A recently-published research paper suggests that although internet dating websites offer single men and women easy access to a vast pool of potential partners, they typically do not increase the quality or longevity of romantic relationships.

The paper, which compiles research data from numerous related studies over the past decade, recognizes that online dating is a growing phenomenon throughout the developed world: in 2013, nearly 20% of all newlywed couples in the US met online. As a whole, the internet dating industry is worth approximately $2 billion annually.

Despite the rapid growth and enormous popularity of online dating, however, there is little data to suggest that couples who meet online are more likely to marry. Similarly, research shows that individuals who met their spouse on the internet report similar levels of marital satisfaction when compared to couples who met offline.

In fact, some of the perceived advantages of online dating (such as the ability to quickly meet and interact with a large number of potential partners) actually end up being detrimental to users, explains Brad Browning, one of the study’s co-authors.

“Having access to a large pool of like-minded singles can actually be a negative,” explains Browning. “This is often referred to as ‘tyranny of choice’, where having a vast number of available options actually increases the difficulty of making a selection. The gluttony of choice can lead to premature abandonment of a relationship.”

The paper also questions the effectiveness of online dating websites that claim to use ‘scientific matchmaking algorithms’ to pair off compatible people, citing research that suggests these matchmaking algorithms are developed using flawed principles and shaky science. Although the study does note that some websites do a better job of limiting selection and matching compatible singles, most matchmaking tools and surveys fail to deliver any meaningful benefit.

The authors also bring up other questions about online dating in general, citing concerns about privacy and the potential for malicious use, as well as the possible conflict of interest inherent to the revenue model of many online dating websites. “Many internet dating websites are subscription-based, meaning they lose a customer when he or she actually establishes a relationships,” Browning says. This conflict of interest raises questions about the incentive for online dating websites to improve their services.

Despite concluding that internet dating fails to produce happier couples or longer-lasting romantic relationships, the authors of the study acknowledge that online dating also offers several key benefits to singles seeking companionship.

“Meeting your partner online doesn’t guarantee that you’ll live happier ever after,” explains Jessica Raymond, senior editor at and a co-author of the study. “Nonetheless, there’s little doubt that the internet is an efficient way of meeting other singles.” In particular, Raymond notes, paid dating websites tend to do a good job of filtering out unmotivated individuals who are not serious about finding a long-term relationship.

The study concludes that, despite its shortcomings, the internet dating industry offers a welcome alternative to traditional offline meeting places, such as bars and nightclubs.

“Online dating websites don’t increase your odds of finding a soulmate,” says Brad Browning, “but they do offer a new place to meet potential partners. For that reason alone, the explosive growth in the popularity of online dating is likely to continue for the foreseeable future.”

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