HYDE PARK — Singles, you might be looking for love in all the wrong places — IRL.
Couples who meet online have longer, happier marriages than those who meet in real life, a new University of Chicago study shows.
Psychology professor John Cacioppo found that more than a third of couples who tied the knot between 2005 and 2012 met over the Internet.
They connected through social networks, email and instant messaging exchanges, and multi-player games or virtual worlds.
Those who meet face-to-face usually found each other at work, school, church, social gatherings, clubs or bars, according to a university release.
Some of the least successful relationships were those that began at bars, on blind dates and in online virtual worlds, researchers found.
Overall, however, those who met online had higher satisfaction in their marriages, based on degree of affection, communication and love.
Divorce rates were also lower for those e-meeting. About 6 percent of people who met online suffered the dissolution of their union compared to 7.5 percent of couples who met offline, the study says.
"The data suggests that the Internet may be altering the dynamics and outcomes of marriage itself," Cacioppo said in the U. of C. release.
The study surveyed more than 19,000 respondents and found that people who met online also tended to be older — 30 to 39 was the most represented age group. They were also more likely to be employed and earning a higher income.
The researchers acknowledged that deception can be a problem online, but studies show that most people are "relatively" honest. Lies are usually minor discrepancies in height or weight, a statement said.
The study didn't address the root causes for the longer unions, but reasons might include the strong motivations of online daters, the availability of "advance screenings," and the sheer number of more online fish in the dating sea.
Cacioppo said where spouses meet is not the only contributing factor to a marriage's success, but the study's finding are "nevertheless encouraging, given the paradigm shift in terms of how Americans are meeting their spouses."
The survey was commissioned by eHarmony.com, but an agreement prior to data analysis said the online dating company would not affect the publication of the study, and the study's statistics were independently reviewed.