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Loneliness in a network or benefits of online dating

Despite the fact that the Internet has become an integral part of our life, there are many people who still treat to the dating there with a great skepticism. Just chat and show new photos – this is a plenty, but concerning a serious relationship – no, no. They say, “a real man” is often so much different from his virtual incarnation, that any “happily ever after” after real online dating with a partner is out of the question.

The research of John Cacioppo and his colleagues from Chicago and Harvard Universities tears this prejudice to tatters. Mr. Cacioppo is the most famous scientist who specializes in social psychology, and his achievements are so significant that eHarmony, one of the largest online dating sites, invited him as a research consultant.

It is clear that the issue of the effectiveness of online dating in comparison with traditional acquaintances had to interest psychologists sooner or later. About 20 thousand people who tied themselves with marital relationships between 2005 and 2012 were chosen for this research. They were asked to answer a series of questions, including, for example, the question “Please rate how happy you are married, taking into account various factors and indicators”.

The experimentals had to determine the degree of agreement with a person, but in a rather free form, the answers like “there is chemistry between us” or “we understand each other's feelings” were admitted. In order not to arouse any doubts in the impartiality of the results, John Cacioppo attracted to the research his colleagues from Harvard who had no relation to the dating site eHarmony.

It should also be noted that the management of resources previously allowed publishing the results of work, regardless of whether they speak in favor of or against online dating. However, if eHarmony even had some fears about future results, they were not true.

As the researchers in PNAS write, online dating has proven one of the most effective ways to find a life partner. The authors of the work also evaluated the average time that respondents spent daily on the Net – that was needed in order to ensure that the resulting sample accurately represents the population of the US, not some separate group of Internet geeks. In addition, the study involved representatives of different ethnic groups, so that the possible ethnic features were smoothed.

In the general offset about a third of married and unmarried respondents met in the network. About half of them have found each other on online dating sites, others – in chat rooms, online games and other virtual worlds. That means that the marriage after online dating is quite real. Moreover, such acquaintances in the sense of marital prospects were even more reliable than traditional relationships. Couples who met on the Internet were more satisfied with their married life, less broke up. The proportion of divorces among those who met online is 6%, and among those who met at the forum is 7.6%. Although the difference is not too big, the authors of the study argue that these differences are statistically quite significant.

The least stable, by the way, were couples who met at the bar, on a blind date and in a virtual world where communication took place through avatars. Why are online couples more stable? Perhaps, because there is a greater choice in the Internet and more opportunities to choose a partner with similar aspirations.

When meeting and tying relationships in the real world we often have to deal with what is, and to hope for good luck that your partner will change and will share with you your marriage intentions.

Researches also rated the respondents by age, and in the end it turned out that online dating is more used by people between 30 and 39 years, and among the younger offline dating still prevail. Perhaps, the strength of online marriages depends also on the factor that people who, roughly speaking, have already walked to the heart’s content and have determined to start a family, make the acquaintances in the Internet. In short, do not rush to build your life according to these data; however, it is not worth to treat online dating as something frivolous.
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