You're More Likely to Divorce If You Met Your Spouse This Way, New Study Says

Marriages that start in these kinds of meetings are more likely to end within the first few years.

It's hard to find love—especially in the middle of a global pandemic. But singles out there should be cautious if they want their relationship to last. How you first cross paths with your partner may correlate to how long you stay together. A new survey from the U.K.'s Marriage Foundation asked people who are or have been married how they met their first spouse, and the results show that marriages are much more likely to quickly end in divorce for couples who meet in one particular way. Read on to find out more.

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Couples who meet online are more likely to divorce within the first three years of marriage.

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The Marriage Foundation teamed up with the polling company Savanta ComRes to survey 2,000 people about where they met their current or previous spouses. And one increasingly popular method of dating seemed to predict a brief marriage. Around 12 percent of couples who met online were divorced within three years of marriage, compared with eight percent through school, six percent through work, three percent at a bar or social outing, and two percent through friends or family.

As the years go by, another group becomes more likely to divorce.

Man and woman breaking up
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The divorce rate for each group increases as the years go by. Within the first five years of marriage, couples who met online are still most likely to divorce, with 15 percent of respondents. But the divorce rate of couples who met at work isn't far behind at 13 percent.

And in the first 10 years of marriage, divorces among couples who met at work significantly outpace those of online daters at 24 percent to 20 percent. At 15 percent and 13 percent respectively, couples who met through friends and family and couples who met at school are the least likely to get divorced within 10 years.

Online dating is still increasing in popularity.

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In the Marriage Foundation survey, 28 percent of respondents who got married for the first time in 2017 or later said that they met their spouse online—tied with the other most popular answer, meeting through friends and family. That percentage of couples meeting online and marrying within the past four years is compared to 21 percent who married earlier in the 2010s and seven percent of those who married in the 2000s.

A 2019 survey from eHarmony and the Imperial College Business School covered 4,008 adults and determined that around half of all babies born in the U.K. by the year 2037 will likely be born to couples who met online.

Online dating is similarly popular in the U.S. In a 2019 study, Stanford sociologist Michael Rosenfeld analyzed a 2017 survey of American adults and found that around 39% of heterosexual couples met their partners online. That's compared with just 22% of people in 2009.

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There's a reason why online daters face this divorce risk.

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So why are couples who meet online more likely to divorce within three years? Study author Harry Benson writes in his conclusion that, compared to those who meet through friends or family, the parties are "relative strangers."

"Gathering reliable information about the long term character of the person you are dating or marrying is quite obviously more difficult for couples who meet online without input from mutual friends or family or other community," Benson writes. "For online couples, wider social bonds between families and friends have to form from scratch rather than being well-established over years or even decades."

However, these issues are not insurmountable, especially with time.

He continues, "The fact that the added risk disappears after the first three years of marriage points to the importance of social capital established over the long term through families and friendships and communities." Basically, as couples grow together and become a part of each other's lives, they're no longer missing that information or those ties.

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