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The sample included 19,131 participants who had been married once between 20, and were asked where they met – was it online dating sites; email or instant messaging; online communities such as chat rooms or virtual reality games; or social networking sites.
Those who met on social networking sites were more likely to be younger, married more recently, and African American compared to those who met on other ways on the internet.
“It’s a good place to do some investigating and a good place to learn about people that doesn’t carry the self-presentational weight of creating an online dating profile.” The fact that most of the marriages were among African-Americans could reflect the fact that at the time the data were collected, between 20, African-Americans and Latinos were over-represented on social networking sites compared to their proportions in the general population.
For these groups, he says, such sites may have been a way to expand their already close-knit network of friends to include others like them, but not yet part of their local connections.
And the rising age of Facebook users may also have an effect on the patterns that Hall found.
“I think that social networking is the digital version of being introduced by friends.” For most of the 20th century, friend-based introductions were the primary way people met their spouse, he says, and social networks may simply be an extension of that pattern.MORE: Online Dating Doesn’t Just Save You Time, It Saves You at Least ,400 And when the participants were compared on marital satisfaction, the partners who met via social networking reported being just as happy as those who were introduced on online dating sites, which tout their compatibility benefits, and more satisfied than those who met on online communities, which nurture conversations among people with similar interests and beliefs.What surprised Hall even more, however, was that the social networking-based relationships were happier than those that began offline, in traditional ways such as being introduced by mutual friends.And Hall’s findings suggest that those flirtations, if they’re on social networking sites, are increasingly likely to lead to meaningful relationships, and even happy marriages.
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Online dating can be so stressful – filling out the profile and keeping up with all the interactions can feel like a job – so it’s no surprise that sometimes digital romance blooms under more Facebook friend-ly circumstances.