Love Connection: Facebook Gets Credit for Lasting Marriages

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Couples who meet on social networking sites such as Facebook are more likely to be satisfied with their marriages than those who meet in other ways, new research suggests.

The study, which drew from a representative sample of Americans who were married between 2005 and 2012, also found that 7 percent of people found love through social media sites.

Though most researchers haven't looked at "social networking as an avenue for dating, this study suggests it's a pretty safe and good avenue for finding a partner," said study author Jeffrey Hall, a communications researcher at Kansas University.

Online love

As the Internet has become ubiquitous, more and more people are finding love online. A Pew study found that about 1 in 10 people have tried online dating, with most of those people finding significant others in the process.

Other studies suggest that people who meet online tend to be happier than those who meet offline.

But relatively little attention has been paid to online social networks in particular.

Friendster matchmaker?

To remedy that, Hall looked at survey data from 18,527 married individuals who were nationally representative in terms of age, demographics and socioeconomics of the United States.

Given the timeframe, it's likely many of those people met on now-eclipsed social  networks such as Friendster, and MySpace, Hall said. Facebook was much less popular during the early years of the survey, before the site was opened up to anyone over age 13 in 2006. [Facebook 10 Years Later: A Look Back (Infographic)]

The survey asked people about their marital status, how they met their partners and how satisfied they were with their marriages.

About 5 percent of the people had been divorced in the survey's time frame, with no real difference between those who had met through social media versus more traditional routes such as through friends.

The people who met through social media networks also tended to be more satisfied with their relationships than those who met in other ways, the study found.

It's not clear why this online dating strategy seems to work, but past research shows that a person's profile on Facebook "tends to be a pretty honest representation of who they are," Hall said.

That may make it more probable that someone with an appealing Facebook profile will be a good fit in real life, he said.

Finding love

Also, the study covered a period of time when social networking was a new technology dominated by early adopters. Now almost everybody has at least a Facebook profile, so it's likely even more people are finding love this way, Hall said.

The findings suggest that social networking sites may be an overlooked way for winning the love lottery, Hall said.

But like all things, you can't win if you don't play.

"You can't meet somebody using social networking unless you accept friend requests from people you don't know," Hall told Live Science.

The findings were published this month in the journal Cyberpsychology, Behavior and Social Networking.

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Tia Ghose
Managing Editor

Tia is the managing editor and was previously a senior writer for Live Science. Her work has appeared in Scientific American, and other outlets. She holds a master's degree in bioengineering from the University of Washington, a graduate certificate in science writing from UC Santa Cruz and a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Texas at Austin. Tia was part of a team at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that published the Empty Cradles series on preterm births, which won multiple awards, including the 2012 Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism.