The Heart Beat The Heart Beat blog

Is online dating causing divorce rates to rise?

Some argue there is a link between the Internet and splitting up.

By Kristin Wong Dec 11, 2012 5:13PM

An interesting headline came across the Newswire yesterday, claiming that online dating has caused an increase in divorce rates.

Photo: Moodboard/Getty ImagesThe piece cited two popular blogs -- D8 A Geek and Christ Ambassadors -- that reported the global rise in divorce rate and compared it to the increase in people who are now online dating:

"As the number of Internet dating users has grown, so, too, have the number of divorces," the PRNewswire piece reads. "...Internet dating may have eroded people's commitment to long term relationships due to the sheer amount of choice now available to both the single and attached."

While their conjecture might seem sensible, the piece doesn't cite any research to support their claim. But that doesn't necessarily mean they're wrong.

More on MSN Living: Most common holiday arguments—and how to avoid them

In 2003, economist Todd D. Kendall conducted one of the first complex studies on the effect of Internet access on divorce rates. The Journal of Family and Economic Issues published his report in 2011.

In it, Kendall outlines the ways in which the Internet might lead to divorce: online infidelity, accessible information to make divorces less costly, and poor marriage matches through online dating.

More on MSN Living: The biggest rocks of 2012

However, he argues that those points could conversely lead to fewer divorces: better marriage matches and tighter-lipped online affairs, for example.

After conducting an extensive study of 40,000 households over a six-year period, Kendall ultimately found that "the internet does not seem to affect divorce rates."

But again, that was nearly a decade ago. So what research has been done since Kendall's study?

Recently, dating site eHarmony conducted a study to see if there was a link between divorce and how couples met. Summing up their findings, they reported:

"It didn’t really matter how you met your spouse, you were just as likely to get divorced."

Thus, those who meet via online dating don't seem to carry an increased risk of divorce.

But what about online infidelity? A survey conducted last year found that Facebook was cited in one-third of divorce petitions in the UK. The biggest complaint was a spouse's online behavior with the opposite sex.

Mark Keenan, the CEO of Online Legal Services Limited, who conducted the study, said:

"If someone wants to have an affair or flirt with the opposite sex then [Facebook is] the easiest place to do it.”

One could argue that Facebook, or the Internet in general, is just a means to an inevitable end. Whether it's Facebook or a bar, cheaters will cheat, and those divorces would've still happened.

Overall, the Internet simply makes things easier. It's easier to facilitate a divorce; it's easier to meet someone via online dating. But matters of the heart aren't quite as simple. Plenty of singles still complain that, despite the ease of online dating, they can't meet someone special. Deciding on divorce is an equally difficult matter of the heart. I suppose without another extensive study, the link between online dating and divorce remains inconclusive.

What do you think—is online dating causing more divorces?

Photo: Moodboard/Getty Images

Bing: Tips for a strong marriage.

More Sex & Love on MSN Living:

10 places to meet a man for the holidays

7 strategies to divorce-proof marriages

The way to his heart after 1, 5 and 10 years of marriage

What does your engagement ring say about you

Subscribe to The Heart Beat


love: friendships, dating, sex & marriage

  • Sign placement/"10 Most Outrageous Wedding Photos"/Photo: Brooke Aliceon Photography

    10 outrageous wedding photos

    The typical wedding: A white dress, tiered cake, floral centerpieces and a cute flower girl -- you know the drill. Every once in a while, though, a couple trades in tradition for a quirky, never-seen-that-before idea. Here are a few of the most out-there wedding photos that made us do a double take.

  • Hot wedding trends for fall

    9 hot wedding trends for fall

    There's a lot to love about weddings this fall, like cocktails served in copper Moscow mule mugs, industrial-inspired lighting and pheasant feather details. See what's new!

  • Monique Pean Mineraux diamond and rose gold ring, $3,400; barneys.com

    Why single ladies are rocking a wedding ring

    Do you have to be engaged to sport a ring with bling?

  • ​KIVILCIM PINAR, Getty Images //  ​KIVILCIM PINAR, Getty Images (​KIVILCIM PINAR, Getty Images)

    Majority of Americans are single

    124.6 million haven't gotten hitched.

  • least expensive places to get married

    These are the 25 least expensive places to get married in America

    Even though the national average wedding is $29,858, that’s just an average. If you live in a smaller state like Idaho where the average wedding costs $16,159, you may find yourself saving a little more than half of the national spend! Check out some of the other least expensive cities to get married in below:

  • M Swiet Productions, Getty Images // M Swiet Productions, Getty Images (M Swiet Productions, Getty Images)

    Americans have nostalgia for summer romance

    Summer is winding down, but the ubiquitous summer romance lives on.

  • 8 signs it's time to break up

    8 signs it’s definitely time to break up

    For those times when nothing big and horrible happened--but nothing is feeling right either.

  • Actor/"Why we love an older man"/Photo: Shutterstock

    Reasons why we love an older man

    He’s confident, distinguished and anywhere from 4 to 20 years older than you. Age is just a number, but there’s something about older men that we love. Here are eight reasons why being in a relationship with an older man is tops.

  • Actor/"Why we love a younger man"/Photo: Shutterstock

    Reasons why we love a younger man

    While a younger man may have less life experience, that doesn’t mean he’s not emotionally mature. Here are the eight reasons why being in a relationship with a younger man is tops.

  • Other woman (Courtesy YourTango)

    5 reasons the other woman slept with your man

    Have you ever wondered what the 'other woman' was thinking?

  • Apple picking

    6 fun fall date ideas

    So fall is coming and you need some romantic inspiration now that long walks on the beach are out of the question. Well look no further! From apple picking to pumpkin carving, these are some great fall date ideas from girls just like you!

  • Go to a theme park

    8 cute celeb date ideas

    Getting bored of the same dinner and movie date night? Take an adorable cue from your favorite celebs and try something new! From dancing to boxing you can't go wrong with these awesome date ideas.

buzzing now on msn living
The Heart Beat is a Great Dating Blogs Winner The Heart Beat is a Great Dating Blogs Winner
relationship videos
editor's picks
the heart beat