Study: 1 in 3 marriages start online

WASHINGTON – Online romances are becoming more common as the use of social media increases.

A new study suggests that more than one in three marriages in recent years began with an online encounter.

A survey of more than 19,000 people who married between 2005 and 2012 found that nearly 35 percent of those couples met online. Close to 45 percent of the couples met on dating websites, and the rest meet in a variety of online forums, such as social networks and instant messaging.

The findings were reported by USA Today and come from the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Researchers also found that those whose relationships began online are happier and less likely to break up than those who didn’t meet via computer, tablet or smartphone.

“Societally, we are going to increasingly meet more of our romantic partners online as we establish more of an online presence in terms of social media,” Caitlin Moldvay, a dating industry senior analyst for market research firm IBISWorld in Santa Monica, Calif., tells USA Today. “I do think mobile dating is going to be the main driver of this growth.”

The study was commissioned by the dating website eHarmony, which has caused some to question the study’s results. EHarmony reportedly paid Harris Interactive $130,000 to field the research.

While the survey was done online, Harris Interactive has said the results were weighted to correct for any potential bias.

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