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According to research by Rosenfeld and Thomas (2012), internet dating steadily increased reaching a plateau in 2009.At that time, 22% of heterosexual couples reported meeting online.
Researchers are just beginning to understand the new and complicated dynamics of online dating, and it is unclear what factors go into successful matching, though long-term relationship satisfaction is likely to come from the same factors regardless of how people meet (go here for an overview of predictors of relationships satisfaction).How do couples move from online dating to that all-important first date?What online dating behaviors and factors set the stage for a successful first date, and the potential for an ongoing relationship?For this study, the researchers measured 1) "anticipated future interaction", 2) "change in attraction" (from online dating to after the first date), 3) "perceived similarity" (a well-known predictor of attraction), and 4) "uncertainty" (about the other person, e.g. Furthermore, first date success was predicted by perceived similarity, expressed similarity, lower uncertainty, and greater information seeking.Importantly, all other factors being equal, greater communication overall, and greater disclosure, predicted first date success.It will be interesting to see what subsequent research reveals about long-term predictors of online dating success. At least, when going online for serious relationships, consider: 1) Looking for people who share genuine similarities with you; 2) Communicating a lot before the first date.And make sure it is high quality communication; 3) Asking a lot of questions.Meeting online was the third most common way of meeting, after introduction by friends, and close behind meeting randomly in public settings (bars, restaurants, parties, etc.).According to the Pew Research Center, 15% of Americans recently reported using online dating sites to meet people, and online dating is gaining wider acceptance across most age ranges, notably tripling among people age 18-24 from 10% to 27% between 20.Real-life online dating experience tells us that it isn't surprising that the first date is typically disappointing.It may be because expectations are inflated and idealized in the absence of more actual information about the other person: in fact, the effect is lower when there is greater communication and disclosure.