The study authors note: "Online dating is another setting where certain elements of people’s personalities, behaviors, and even physical appearances may be obfuscated at first, leading to positive illusions that are not always sustainable over time." The same effect has also been seen in marriage, where not all newlyweds maintain satisfaction after the honeymoon phase.It's common to hear stories from people we know describing how excited they were after talking online to someone who seemed so perfect, sharing the same favorite movies, sense of humor and taste in music, TV and literature, only to feel really let down when they actually met and got to know the person better.When people were overly positive, exaggerating similarities and the expectation of future interactions, disillusionment was very likely; this effect was greater when communication was lower, presumably because people are able to maintain positive illusions in the absence of information about the other person, leading to a greater risk of being disappointed.The researchers note that dating services that facilitate communication and sharing of information may be more effective.It's easy to play up similarity and downplay differences—and it's understandable that some people looking for companionship tend to quickly develop a crush when someone seems to "get them" right away.Indeed, Sharabi and Caughlin found that, contrary to their expectations, the greater the similarity, the better.According to research by Rosenfeld and Thomas (2012), internet dating steadily increased reaching a plateau in 2009.
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.So while online dating is on the rise, most online relationships do not lead to long-term committed relationships. (2013), a higher percentage, 30%, of married couples in their sample met online, and those that did were slightly but significantly more likely to stay together and report greater marital satisfaction.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).