Only 4% of marriages occur after couples meet on dating websites, Brotzman says.
Most relationships still sprout from real-life acquaintances and meeting friends of friends.
MORE: With Oculus, Facebook Can Reinvent Itself — and Its Reputation Social networking sites also have another potential advantage over dating services – they aren’t burdened by the pressure of trying to find love and the anxiety of having to present yourself in the best possible light to catch a mate.
While there’s no truth filter on sites like Facebook, and there is certainly some amount of self-promotion and exaggeration, having your circle of friends visit your page can keep you pretty honest, which means by and large, your social network version of you is relatively close to the real thing – at least that’s what the studies show. Conversations, observations and interactions on social networking sites may be more casual and low risk, relieved of the pressure and anticipation of a potential date (or rejection for a potential date) that shadow every picture, message and response on dating sites.
“In part, social networking sites provide a low risk, high reward place to meet people,” says Hall.
“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.
While it dominated the early days of cyber connecting, for example, My Space was surpassed by Facebook in 2008 as the primary source of online interactions.
And the rising age of Facebook users may also have an effect on the patterns that Hall found.
While it’s possible that people who meet and marry via social networking sites may always be from a young demographic, it’s also possible that as more people join the site, including those who are looking for a second chance at love later in life, could drive that average age up.
What the results do show is that we shouldn’t be so quick to dismiss social networks as an important tool for finding love in the 21 century.
MORE: Inside Tinder: Meet the Guys Who Turned Dating Into an Addiction“It was really, really astonishing, since [romantic relationships] aren’t the purpose of these sites,” he says of the data, which came from e Harmony, the online dating service.
Hall decided to investigate the connection, and learn more about who was meeting their significant other this way, and how well these marriages fared.
Users sign onto The Datable with a Facebook account and start tagging datable friends.