Is Facebook Becoming an Alternative to Online Dating?

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Online dating has become a typical way to meet people outside of your own social networks. In fact, the majority of people have tried it at least once.

But what about the opportunity to connect via social media? Most people have a Facebook or Twitter account, and they contain a wealth of information about what we like, who we are, who are friends are, and what we do. The natural progression of social media is to harness this information and look to who might benefit from it – including online daters.

In fact, eHarmony released a study recently which found 7% of people who married after meeting online had met for the first time on social networking sites like Facebook, MySpace and ClassMates – not through matchmaking chat rooms, online dating sites or other romance-based online connections.

In an article in Time Magazine, Jeffrey Hall, associate professor of Communication Studies at University of Kansas, decided to investigate this connection. He wanted to learn more about who was meeting their significant others through social media, and how well these marriages fared.

He surveyed over 19,000 people who had been married between 2005 and 2012, and asked them how they’d met. Those who met on social networking sites were more likely to be younger and married more recently compared to those who met online in other ways. He was surprised to find that those who met via social networking sites were just as happy as those who met online, and those who met online in general were happier than those couples who met in more traditional ways, such as through friends.

Social networking sites have potential advantages over online dating sites, Hall noted. For one, you can meet people through networks of friends, which means there is some connection first. This puts many people – especially women – more at ease. Also, people are more likely to represent themselves in an honest light over Facebook, because their friends are reading their posts and making comments. You get a more complete view of the person you’re meeting – where she likes to eat, what TV shows she watches, what she does for a living. A Facebook page is a little more personal than an online dating profile.

Another interesting finding in the study was that most of the marriages resulting from social media connections were among African Americans. Hall attributes this to the fact that African Americans and Latinos were over-represented on social networking sites between 2005 and 2012, and use social networks to engage with their already close network of friends.

Social media is an important part of making romantic connections, and is growing in popularity every day. Maybe it’s time to check Facebook if you want to meet someone new.