How couples meet

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Nearly 30% of new couples now meet online. Today the Internet is the second-most common way to meet a partner, according to results from the How Couples Meet and Stay Together Survey, with web introductions ranked only behind introduction by mutual friends.

Taken in 2009, the survey polled more than 4,000 Americans about their romantic relationships. Same-sex partners were even more likely to have met online than heterosexuals were, the survey found. Among homosexual couples forming between 2007 and 2009, a whopping 61% were the result of an online match.

The study authors — from Stanford University and the City College of New York — presented their findings yesterday at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association. They write:

With the meteoric rise of the Internet as a way couples meet in the past few years, and the concomitant recent decline in the central role of friends, it is possible that in the next several years the Internet could eclipse friends as the most influential way Americans meet their romantic partners, displacing friends out of the top position for the first time since the early 1940s.

Somewhat less surprisingly, the survey results also show that far fewer Americans today meet their spouses through family or in elementary and high school than did so in the mid-20th century. But the importance of work as a meeting place also seems to be on the decline. In recent years the proportion of men and women getting together with coworkers has fallen, following a steady increase in this number up until about 1990.

But does it really matter how couples meet? Yes and no, the survey suggests. The happiest couples, it seems, are those who met through church. These partners report the highest overall relationship satisfaction.