31 May, 2018
For a long time online dating was seen as something to be embarrassed about, as though nobody worth dating should depend on carefully constructed profiles and algorithms. But research suggests that online dating platforms may actually benefit users’ relationships—and the dating scene more broadly—in significant ways.
Economists Josué Ortega and Philipp Hergovich recently published an article explaining their findings. Their research explores how people utilize social networks in dating: we have strong connections with a few people, and loose connections with many more.
As described by Technology Review, “Most people were unlikely to date one of their best friends, [but] they were highly likely to date people who were linked with their group of friends; a friend of a friend, for example.” Online dating platforms allow for these kinds of connections to form, increasing the strength of everyone’s networks and thereby expanding their potential dating pools as well.
More diverse relationships
The digital landscape is markedly different from the real world in key ways. Societies are often organized with similar people in close proximity to one another, and this homogeneity has traditionally kept people of different backgrounds apart. But with online social networks, users can reach beyond their immediate surroundings.
One result of this increased reach has been a rise in interracial marriage. Ortega and Hergovich concluded that “when a society benefits from previously absent ties, social integration occurs rapidly, even if the number of partners met online is small … consistent with the sharp increase in interracial marriages in the U.S. in the last two decades.”
Bringing people together with stronger bonds
Online dating also benefits groups that might otherwise have difficulty meeting, such as older people, people with disabilities, and members of the LGBTQ community. The platforms allow them to manage their dating lives with greater convenience, free of social stigmatization.
Finally, the researchers’ evidence suggests that “marriages created online were less likely to break up within the first year, while such partners reported a higher degree of satisfaction, too.” Online dating may contribute more to society than anyone—skeptics especially—could have predicted.
Image via Pixabay.