Marriage

Online Dating Doesn’t Just Save You Time – It Saves You Money

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A lot of people love online dating because of its convenience. It's hard to beat being able to scan through potential matches from the comfort of your own home, entirely at your leisure. Traditional dating can be found, but it can also be a huge time suck. Sometimes all you want is an efficient way to weed out the frogs from the princes (and princesses).

Online daters already know that dating websites are a great way to save time, but it turns out they're also a great way to save money. Couples who meet online tend to marry after a shorter period of time than couples who meet in real life, meaning that a courtship that begins via the Internet ends up being thousands of dollars cheaper than meeting and wooing someone offline.

According to market strategists at New York City-based ConvergEx Group, the average dating period prior to marriage for a couple who met in real life is approximately 42 months. Let's do some math: if that couple goes on one date per week, and that date costs around $130 (for food, drinks, entertainment tickets, etc.), then the total cost of that couple's courtship would be around $23,660.

The average time between meeting and marriage for couples who meet online, on the other hand, runs around 18.5 months. The average dating site customer spends $239 a year for online memberships, according to ConvergEx Group, and if we assume that the amount spent on dates is the same, an online dater saves $12,803 in comparison to an offline dater.

And what if the dates go Dutch? In that case, each online dater saves just over $6400. Not too shabby at all!

But, just because it's more acceptable, easier, and less expensive for people to meet online doesn't mean more US citizens are using dating sites to meet marriage partners. According to the Pew Research Center, only 51% of Americans were married in 2011 – a significant drop from the 72% who were married in 1960 – and the numbers are continuing to decline.

ConvergEx suggests that the trend could be in reaction to the high divorce rates seen throughout the 1970s and 80s. “Seeing their parents and/or friends’ parents go through a divorce has made today’s young people more cautious when it comes to finding a mate,” they say.

Many more of today's young people are putting their careers had of relationships, making them less reliant on a spouse for support and possibly also contributing to the decline in marriage. Marriage rates are reportedly also dropping faster among people with less education. "Declining marriage rates among those with lower levels of educational attainment is a warning sign that is worth watching," says ConvergEx, "especially if the trend continues."

Does Anybody Care About Valentine’s Day Anymore?

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Confession: I’m one of those irritating people who, every February, talks about how Valentine’s Day is a crock of you-know-what because it shouldn’t take a special, sickeningly sweet, Hallmark-y holiday to remind you to love your partner. Every year it gets hipper to hate on Valentine’s Day, to the point that the scales almost seem poised to tip back in the other direction. In 2015, will the cooler-than-thou kids have to start celebrating V-Day instead of condemning it? What a strange world that would be…

Though the anti-Valentine’s Day forces are loud, it seems that most of us are secretly celebrating anyway. eHarmony asked 3000 people if they had plans for Valentine's Day 2014 and about 64% of them said that they would be spending the holiday with someone special. Here’s what they had planned (or not):

  • 17% of people said they had not planned anything at the time of the survey (which was done only three days before Valentine's Day!).
  • 6% said they had put a lot of planning into the event.
  • Most people, unsurprisingly, fell somewhere in the middle – they’d put at least a little bit of thought into the holiday, but weren’t going all-out.
  • Men were the romantics of the bunch. While women were more likely to say they had done very little to no planning at all, men were more likely to say they had done a fair amount of planning or a lot of planning for their valentine.

Good news for married folks: marriage may get a bad rap for dulling the spark, but the damage – at least where Valentine’s Day is concerned – is seriously overstated. Couples who were dating exclusively were most likely to have plans, at 89%, but at 82% married couples weren't far behind. Couples who were engaged were the least likely to have made any plans, perhaps because they’re too busy planning their weddings.

When the big day finally arrives, here’s what we’re up to:

  • 37% of people head to dinner with their honeys.
  • 26% prefer a romantic dinner in.
  • 18% skip the dinner half entirely and go straight to a movie date.
  • 71% of people plan to give their valentine a gift (79% of men, 65% of women).
  • Women ranked their gift preferences like this: flowers (17%), jewelry (16%), intimacy (17%), a card (12%), and a spa day (11%).
  • Men voted strongly in favor of intimacy as the ideal Valentine's Day gift (40%), but next in line was a card (11%).

And for all the naysayers, eHarmony also found that the biggest reasons people say they celebrate Valentine's Day are romance, connection, and genuine enjoyment of the holiday.

eHarmony Dishes The Details On Tying The Knot

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eHarmony's very first marriage was John and Vicki Vystrcil, from Frisco, TX. The pioneering couple was married in 2001 and they've been going strong ever since. With more than a decade of experience and a track record like that, it's safe to say that eHarmony knows a thing or two about holy matrimony.

If tying the knot is on your resolutions list this year, sandwiched between spending less time staring at your phone and more time on the StairMaster at the gym, eHarmony has released a few key insights gathered during its decade+ history. eHarmony asked its married couples to detail their experience with the service in a recent study and compiled their responses into a report. The report, called eHarmony Married Couples by the Numbers Facts, asked important questions about the online dating experience:

How long does it take to meet your spouse on eHarmony?

  • 71% of women meet their spouse within a year
  • 69% of men meet their spouse within a year

How long does it take from when you are matched when you marry?

  • The median time from when people are matched to when they marry is 1.8 years

How far apart do you live?

  • The median distance at the time couples were matched was 20.2 miles

Who initiates communication first?

  • 53% of the time, men initiated the first communication
  • However, women become more likely to initiate communication as they get older
  • Women in their 70s initiated the first communication 55.8% of the time

What's the age difference?

  • On average, husbands are 2.39 years older than their wives

What's the education level?

  • More than 70% of women and men are college educated or higher

This year, eHarmony has something special in mind to celebrate its successful matches. The dating service plans to bring seven of the more than 600,000 married couples who found love on the site to be part of its float entitled Everlasting Love in the 2014 Tournament of Roses Parade. The couples chosen to showcase their love and inspire others who are still searching for it will ride alongside the Grammy award-winning star Natalie Cole, as she sings her hit (and eHarmony commercial theme song) "This Will Be" down the parade route.

The Vystrcils will be joined on the float by other notable eHarmony couples, including a couple who married when they were 75 years old, a couple who appeared on an eHarmony commercial in 2012, and a couple who formed a real-life Brady Bunch.

A Healthy Body Image is Linked to Good Relationships, Study Shows

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Does having a healthy body image contribute to a better relationship?

According to a new study by Tallinn University, women who were satisfied with their body image were found to maintain happier relationships, too.

The study was based on survey data drawn from 256 women between the ages of 20 and 45. Nearly 72% of respondents were cohabitating with their partners and 28% were married.

After studying the responses, lead researcher Sabina Vatter noticed that women who were satisfied with their relationships were more likely to be satisfied with their body weight regardless of whether or not they had an ideal body type or weight. She also discovered that these findings corresponded to higher levels of self-esteem and low self-consciousness.

"This shows that body and body weight can create general satisfaction, which would be forwarded to feelings for a romantic partner," Vatter said.

Additionally, those participants who were dieting or who just came off a diet were more likely to be self-conscious about their bodies. They were less satisfied with their body weight, weighed themselves more often and had higher BMIs than those who had not been on a diet. They also reported lower satisfaction with their relationships.

Women who were most critical of their body image were found to have less satisfaction in their relationship, including their sexual relationship with a partner.

According to Vatter, "These findings suggest that our satisfaction with body size, shape and weight has more to do with how happy we are in important areas of our lives, like our romantic relationships, than it does with what the bathroom scales say."

The study didn't mention any other factors related to body image as part of the survey, but focused specifically on the connection between body image and relationship satisfaction. Many women compare themselves to an ideal body type they can't duplicate but perhaps see in magazines, causing more feelings of anxiety which can also impact relationships.

According to the study, those women who have greater levels of acceptance and more self-esteem about their bodies (and less inhibition) are able to have happier and more fulfilling relationships, including the sexual component. But it goes both ways - happier relationships can help create happier feelings about your body.

"When a woman was satisfied with her relationship, she was also satisfied with her body weight, which also applies vice versa," said Vatter. "Higher body-weight satisfaction results in higher satisfaction with a relationship."

Online Dating May Make Your Marriage Happier – Here’s Why

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If you've been on the Internet in the last week - and seeing as this is 2013, there's no way you haven't - you've probably come across an article proclaiming that online dating has scientifically been proven to be better than traditional dating.

Every feed I follow has been blowing up with the news that 1 in 3 Americans now meet their spouses online, and that a new study has found that marriages born out of online dating are more satisfying and less likely to end in divorce. The study's results were published in a paper called "Marital Satisfaction and Breakups Differ Across Online and Offline Meeting Venues" in the current issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

"These data suggest that the Internet may be altering the dynamics and outcomes of marriage itself," said the study's lead author John Cacioppo, the Tiffany and Margaret Blake Distinguished Service Professor in Psychology at the University of Chicago.

Before you vow never to meet people in person again, it's important to note that the study was funded by eHarmony.com and Cacioppo is paid as a scientific advisor for eHarmony. Of course, everyone involved promises that eHarmony's backing did not affect the outcomes of the study in any way, but...

I know I'm not the only one looking at this new data with a healthy dose of skepticism.

I am, however, not so skeptical about a few of Cacioppo's claims. Online dating clearly has changed the face of relationships forever, and there's no going back. Cacioppo's research found that nearly 8% of marriages initiated offline end in breakups, while couples who meet online report divorce and separation rates of only 6%.

I'll be holding firmly onto my grains of salt until further studies - ones that aren't in any way connected to online dating sites - confirm his data, but I'm willing to admit that Cacioppo may have a point. Online dating may indeed lead to greater marriage satisfaction for a few key reasons:

  1. The pool of prospective partners is significantly larger online, increasing the chance that you'll meet someone you're highly compatible with.
  2. Singles who take the step of joining an online dating site may be more serious about finding a long-term partner than singles encountered offline.
  3. Online daters may be more honest and up-front about who they are and what they're looking for (barring those infamous little white lies told in profiles), meaning that the connections they form are more genuine.

"It is possible that individuals who met their spouse online may be different in personality, motivation to form a long-term marital relationship, or some other factor," Cacioppo said in a press release.

That sounds like the perfect opportunity for another study - one that isn't funded by an online dating giant.

Related Article: The Secret To A Happy Marriage Is…Online Dating?

The Secret To A Happy Marriage Is…Online Dating?

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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.