The Secret To A Happy Marriage Is…Online Dating?

eHarmony
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If I asked what you think the secret to a happy marriage is, what would you say?

Communication?

Date nights?

Spontaneity?

Thoughtfulness?

Respect?

Acceptance?

They're all good answers, but a new study suggests that the real answer might be something you weren't expecting: online dating.

Didn't see that one coming, did you? (Ok, sure, if you read the title you did...but humor me.)

The Internet has forever changed the way people communicate, work, play, create, and date. 1/3 of American couples now meet their partners online, through email, dating sites, and social networks.

In a survey study of more than 19,000 Americans who married between 2005 and 2012, 5% divorced, 2% separated, and 92% remained married. The couples observed were generally representative of the population, but a few demographics showed a particular inclination towards online dating:

  • Men
  • People in their 30s and 40s
  • Hispanics
  • People who are employed
  • People with higher socioeconomic statuses

Even after accounting for the differences between subjects, the study drew two primary conclusions. The first will surprise no one: the popularity of online dating has increased across every segment of American society. The second comes as more of a shock: marriages that began online were found to be longer lasting and more satisfying for couples.

Lead author of the study John Cacioppo, a psychologist and director of the Center for Cognitive and Social Neuroscience at the University of Chicago, explains the findings by saying dating sites may "attract people who are serious about getting married."

A sociologist, Michael Rosenfeld of Stanford University, backs up Cacioppo's findings. In his own research, he found that "couples who meet online are more likely to progress to marriage than couples who meet in other ways."

But the study is not without its critics. "It's a very impressive study," says social psychologist Eli Finkel of Northwestern University. "But it was paid for by somebody with a horse in the race and conducted by an organization that might have an incentive to tell this story."

That's right - the study was commissioned by eHarmony, which shelled out $130,000 to pay for the research. Cacioppo has also been a member of eHarmony's Scientific Advisory Board since it was created in 2007.

Is it intriguing research? Yes. But does that sound like a major conflict of interest? Absolutely.

Sure, online dating is a great way to meet a partner with high levels of compatibility and real marriage potential. But is online dating better than offline dating? Survey says: inconclusive.

Baby Boomers And The Senior Dating Boom

OurTime
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Baby boomers may be getting older, but online dating is proving that it will never get old.

OurTime.com is the largest dating community for singles aged 50 plus, which also makes it home to one of the fastest-growing demographics in the market. Boomer dating is experiencing a colossal boom, and OurTime.com is right at the front lines of the action.

According to the 2012 US census, more than 1/3 of the 107 million singles in the country are over the age of 50. But despite their growing numbers and increasing influence, the senior set is a dating demographic that is still largely misunderstood. OurTime is out to change that, with a new set of mature dating statistics that prove tech-savvy singles come in every age.

The 50+ singles scene is made up of a diverse group of daters:

  • The membership ratio for OurTime.com is 45% men to 55% women.
  • 69% of OurTime members are single parents.
  • Nearly 70% have already been married at least once. 54% are divorced, and 15% are widowed. Only 50% of users in their 50s say they're interested in getting married again, a percentage which decreases dramatically once they reach their 60s (8%) and their 70s (5%).

Seniors don't have a reputation for being the most technologically advanced age group, but online dating is proving that they know their way around a computer just as well as their younger counterparts.

  • OurTime members log-on an average of 44 times and view 81 profiles during a 90-day period.
  • 1 in 5 Our Time members users a mobile device to log-on. Their device of choice? The iPad, of course.
  • OurTime.com's membership has jumped 66% over the last two years.
  • Senior dating has been particularly popular in Kansas City, MO, Tuscon, AZ, San Diego, CA, Rochester, NY, and St. Louis, MO.

Here's what singles are looking for in their more mature years:

  • "Nature and Outdoors" is the #1 interest listed on profiles by both male and female OurTime members.
  • For men, sports ranks second and fitness comes in third.
  • For women, family and friends takes the #2 spot and travel comes in at #3.
  • Physical attraction is also an important factor: 87% of singles ages 50-70 say it's a must-have.

"This is a vibrant, growing community of singles that's taking the dating scene by storm," said Dr. Terri Orbuch, relationship expert for OurTime.com, "and rightfully so. By and large this age group is happier, more secure, and even feeling sexier than their younger counterparts. They also are a better judge of the type of person who will make them happy, so it's the perfect stage of life to be looking for love."

It is clearly OurTime's time to shine. For more information on this dating site you can read our review of OurTime.

Get Ready – A New eHarmony Is On Its Way!

eHarmony
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Watch out, world - there's a new eHarmony in town.

eHarmony has been an online dating staple since its launch in 2000, but it's hardly seen any changes over the last decade. Now eHarmony is finally ready to roll out some much-needed updates, catapulting the site squarely back into the middle of the modern online dating game. In fact, the new site is so up-to-date that it's even optimized for use on the iPad. Now that's hip.

The next generation of the site, code named "Malibu," has been redesigned to enhance the customer experience. The comprehensive remodeling will dramatically change the user dashboard and member profile pages, which will soon take on a magazine-like aesthetic for all members. Instead of displaying profile details in multiple box modules, the new and improved profiles aim to tell a story. Editing pages will also become a more intuitive experience.

Here's another change users are bound to be pleased about: no more third-party ads on the site. eHarmony's new commitment to engaging visuals and readability means that outside advertisements will no longer be seen on the site. The focus will be purely on creating relationships, with no distractions.

A new relationship questionnaire will also be making its debut on eHarmony. The stuffy and intimidating design of the old questionnaire will be replaced by a colorful and image-heavy design that looks more like a game and less like a daunting clinical form. Now that the sign-up process takes half the time to complete, the site has seen a 20% spike in the number of new users who fill out the questionnaire.

With the eHarmony redesign also comes this treat for members: a new, more visual personality profile called "The Book of You." "Our thought is that in order to be ready for that amazing relationship or that amazing person, you really should understand yourself and how people perceive you," Arvind Mishra, the company's VP of product management, told Mashable. The first few sections of "The Book of You" will be available to all users. The later sections will only be available to members with premium subscriptions.

If you ask me, it's about time eHarmony gave their service a makeover. "Our original site was incredibly scientific and incredibly sterile," said Mishra, but the new site will focus on empowering the user. The fresh focus on user experience will bring a human, emotional element to the site that its previous iteration was lacking. eHarmony's commitment to creating lasting relationships is still there, but now it comes with a much prettier face and more enjoyable user experience.

New Study: Can Men and Women be “Just Friends?”

General News
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It's the age-old question: can men and women be friends without any sexual urges or entanglements? This has been a subject of contention over the years, depicted in many movies from When Harry Met Sally to Friends with Benefits.

A new study has shed some light on the subject, affirming that it is difficult for men and women to be friends without any romantic feelings. At least, it's more difficult for men.

Online social dating site Canoodle.com surveyed 1,500 singles to find out where they stood, and while only 27% of women admitted to harboring feelings for a male friend, a whopping 56% of men said they'd want to be more than friends with their female buds!

For those of you wondering whether or not you should make the move and confess your feelings, the odds are in your favor. Sixty percent of men surveyed said they'd successfully turned their friendships into romantic relationships, and women came in with a 44% success rate.

However, if you have sex and then regret it, you may have some problems. Only 38% of women said it's possible to have sex and then go back to being friends. Fortunately, men don't feel the same way. A majority 52% of men said they'd be totally cool with being friends again after sex.

While this study does shed some light on the subject, it is a difficult situation. Most people are afraid to jeopardize a friendship, especially if they have a long history together, or have seen each other through other relationships that didn't last. Would it be better to throw caution to the wind and confess your feelings to your friend? What if he didn't feel the same? Or if he did, what if your relationship didn't work out in the long run?

These are all risks that we take in life. If you have strong feelings for someone, you owe it to yourself (and to your friendship) to address them, because chances are the other person is already aware. It's hard to hide romantic attraction, no matter how discreet you think you're being. It's better to be honest and move forward from there.

If you confess and your friend isn't interested, don't despair. If she's a good, true friend, you will likely stay friends even if you take a little time apart to move past it.

And if you confess and your friend is totally into you too? Even better, don't you think?

With A New Matchmaker Feature, ‘Tinder’ Is On Fire

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The word on everybody's lips right now is: Tinder.

No, they're not trying to start campfires...they're talking about the new dating app that's been taking the world by storm.

Created by Hatch Labs - an LA-based startup backed by IAC, the same digital media giant that also owns Match and OKCupid - Tinder has exploded onto the scene since its launch in October. Here's why:

  • It's free.
  • It's casual.
  • It's connected to Facebook.
  • It doesn't focus on the traditional profile model.
  • It's location-enabled.
  • It's targeting the tech-savvy younger generations.

You may not have heard of it yet, but Tinder has already sparked 50 million matches and 4.5 billion user ratings. Not bad for an app that's barely more than six months old...

The Tinder team is determined to keep that momentum going. They're already hard at work to create tools to enhance the Tinder experience, like the brand new "Matchmaker" feature. The update allows users to make introductions between any of their Facebook friends, whether or not they're already on Tinder.

It's easy: Just select two friends, add a message, and press send. Once a user has matched two Facebook friends, they can chat within Tinder without sharing their contact information. If the friends aren't already using the app, Tinder sends them a message on Facebook and asks them to sign up for an account to see the post.

An additional feature of Matchmaker allows the person who made the introduction to see if the match is active. That way they can get a sense of their success rate, and gently encourage a match to communicate more if the conversation goes silent.

"Right now introductions are a very difficult process," says Sean Rad, Tinder's CEO. "They're slow, they're socially awkward. This is a socially acceptable environment for you to make introductions in an easy way."

Rad hopes that the introductions will go beyond dating. Need a connection for a new car, or the perfect employee for your startup? Rad's goal is to make Tinder's Matchmaker feature your go-to for relationships and networking of all kinds. So far, its success has been even more than he imagined.

Tinder launched a month-long test of Matchmaker with 100 users. Rad expected about 10% of the test population to make connections, while the other 90% benefited from the introductions made. Instead, nearly all of the beta users made multiple introductions.

Sounds like Tinder is about to have another success story on its hands.

eHarmony offers Free Communication June 27 to July 1

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eHarmony's free communication event is happening in the United States from June 28 to June 30 on eHarmony.com and in Canada from June 27 to July 1 on eHarmony.ca. This is a long weekend for Canada as July 1st is Canada Day. I am surprised that the US event is not happening next week when Independence Day is celebrated.

Update: 2013-07-03 - We just learned that eHarmony.com is also having a free communication weekend July 4 - 8 in celebration of Independence Day.

The main thing free communication weekends allow are for non-paying members to send and receive emails. So, all you need to do is visit eHarmony and create your account and fill out your profile (this can take about 30 minutes). Once completed you will then start to be sent matches based on the type of person you said you are looking for along with someone who has compatible personality traits with you. After reviewing their profiles and once you find one or more matches you like, you can then start the guided communication process. This process is 3 stages that allow you to better get to know each other. Once they are complete you can then move on to post guided communication which is eHarmony Mail (email). One thing to note is free communication does not include photos, secure call or skip straight to email.

There last free communication weekend happened in May on Memorial Day (see Story). To find out more about this service you can take a look at our in-depth review of the dating site eHarmony.