SALT LAKE CITY (ABC 4 News) - What once came with a stigma is now the most popular way to meet other singles.
It’s called online dating. New numbers shows couples that meet online are significantly 'happier' than those who meet through other means.
About 20% of couples meet online. That's by and large the most popular way to meet. The other more traditional ways include meeting through friends, at school and at work.
“I think you start dating people you work with and everybody knows that's not a good idea, you start dating, your ex’s friends…and that's a real great idea! The traditional ways of dating obviously aren't working in America right now,” says Debbie, who met her husband online.
“I think initially there was probably a stigma about meeting online, that it means you were desperate,” says psychologist Julie Hanks.
“Especially with our single friends, they'll say, 'Where have you met?' 'We met online.' 'We would never do that,' and two months later, they're saying...'what site,'" says Debbie.
For all the non-believers…guess what? We live in one of the most online-dating friendly states in America. With sites like LDS Singles and LDS Planet, Virginia may be for lovers, but Utah is for online lovers.
“Being able to find people with similar values, and religious values are really important in Utah,” says Hanks.
Here comes the poster children, Sam and Debbie Campbell, a modern day Brady Bunch.
“We are extremely normal people,” says the Campbells. “We have six kids, six kids!”
The Campbells went from two families to one and bridged 100 miles to be together.
“I knew I really, really, really liked him before I ever laid eyes on him,” says Debbie.
Sam was the first person Debbie ever met online. They chatted on the phone for hours and e-mailed for just two weeks before the pinnacle moment in all online relationships…the first meeting!
“So I had called my mom and my best friend before I met with him, and I said to them...'If I'm never to show up again, this is the guy I'm with and this is his e-mail address, that's all I know about him,'” says Debbie.
Debbie returned safely home that night.
One might think online equals danger but psychologist Julie Hanks says some sites might be safer than random in-person encounters.
“You don't have like, okay, warning lights on their head,” says Hanks. “Some of the online match-making sites have background checks, which I think is great, because I don't know many people who meet face to face that do background checks.”
Another hidden advantage says Hanks is you’re dealing with six pixels of separation, not six degrees.
“You’re casting a wide net, we’re no longer bound by just meeting people in our geographic location,” says Hanks.
It's all a numbers game. One of the reasons researches say people who meet online are happier than those who meet at say, a bar, is because you're sorting through 1,000 percent more fish that are guaranteed to be single. When was the last time that you asked, "excuse me…could you kindly fill out this compatibility questionnaire?"
“When you build a profile on eHarmony, it eliminates 3-6 months worth of dating right out of the shoot,” says Sam.
The 250 question long survey looks at the values and characteristics that predict marital satisfaction. The questionnaire is based on getting to know someone from the inside out.
It’s easy to tell the Campbells are in love with each other when you sit down with them. New research shows there are a lot of couples just as happy as Sam and Debbie.
“What we found is that those couples who had met and were married through eHarmony were significantly happier than couples who had met through some other means,” says Dr. Gonzaga.
Dr. Gonzaga is a real-life love doctor. Gonzaga is a senior research scientist based out of Texas whose life career is to study the success of online dating. He bases his study on a scale called the relationship satisfaction curve.
He goes as far as to say he thinks online dating users will have a lower divorce rate in the future than those who meet through other means.
Dr. Gonzaga says eHarmony manages to set up 236 marriages a day simply because the survey matches ‘like with like.’ Contrary to the popular adage, the love doctor says, “opposites ‘do’ attract…but then, they attack.”
“If you are like a partner, and they are frustrated or angry about something, it's easier to be able to understand why they're frustrated,” says the Dr. Gonzaga.
He says sympathy will in the end conquer misunderstandings which are the root of many divorces.
“It’s just an amazing feeling to have a life partner like this, just incredible,” says Sam.