The Role of the Internet in Reconfiguring Marriages: A Cross-national Study

William H. Dutton, Ellen J. Helsper, Monica T. Whitty, Nai Li, J. Galen Buckwalter, Erina Lee


This study explores the role of the Internet in reconfiguring marriages, introducing couples that meet in person and later marry, through a set of online surveys of married couples in Britain, Australia, and Spain. The study found that a sizeable proportion of online married couples in each country first met their spouse online, usually through an online dating service, chat room or on instant messaging (IM). This was more the case for younger couples. Moreover, the study indicates that meeting online is likely to introduce people to others whom they would not be as likely to meet through other means. The Internet might well open people to more diversity in their choice of a partner, such as by introducing individuals with greater differences in age or education, but with more similar interests and values. These findings are preliminary, but suggestive of significant social trends and indirect implications of social networking in the digital age.


mate selection; Internet; marriage; online dating; social networks

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