Which Leads to More Breakups: Online Dating vs Real Life?

I try pretty hard not to give into confirmation bias. Which is to say that I believe that online dating is a valuable tool in your dating arsenal. And the last thing I want to do is give you studies and information that suggest otherwise. 

But this Engadget synopsis of a Michigan State/Stanford study suggests that online dating is less likely to last and leads to more break-ups than meeting someone in real life. At least that’s what the headline said. I didn’t pay to download the study. 🙂

Ready for Lasting Love?
Ready for Lasting Love?

What Online Dating vs Real Life Dating Studies Show

“The separation and divorce rates for adults who’d paired up through online dating apps and similar technology was much higher than their offline compatriots, and many relationships founded in online dating services tended to end within a year after the survey. Is Online Better Than Offline For Meeting Partners? states that those who met on the web were more likely to date than actually marry compared to people that’d met IRL, too — by more than double.”

The online dating vs real life study doesn’t get more specific than that, so we’re left here to interpret the lack of data for ourselves, through the lens of our own biases.

If you’re going to date for 2 years before you get married, what difference does it make if you met at a party or on OkCupid?

I could accept the possibility that people who met on a dating app are more likely to get divorced, even though a competing study from 2013 said the complete opposite. From a purely objective point of view, it doesn’t make any sense that there’d be a difference either way. I mean, if you’re going to date for 2 years before you get married, what difference does it make if you met at a party or on a dating site like OkCupid?


What Online Dating Studies Fail to Reveal

On the other hand, I see a flaw in what the study seems to suggest, which is that there’s a problem with the fact that people who met on dating sites tend to break up quicker. Quite the contrary. If you never meet someone face to face, and you have a chance encounter that leads to love, you are more likely to stay in a bad or dead-end relationship because of your perception of scarcity. Whereas people online know that members of the opposite sex are abundant and they have choices. It’s never fun to get dumped by someone who met you online, but if you do, you can activate your profile and have a date with another person the next night, quite easily. Which is why it’s dangerous to talk about right and wrong when it comes to online dating.

What I think we can all agree is that online dating apps create a tremendous amount of opportunity to meet people and create a love life from scratch. Some internet daters abuse this and become players and overly picky. But the bottom line is, the availability and options in online dating sites mean that there will be more dates and interactions, more short-term relationships, more (healthy) break-ups, and more chances to win the dating game and find the right person than if you meet one guy through real life dating every two years and go all in on him because you never meet and experience anybody else. 

Your thoughts, below, are appreciated.