Welcome to the Age of the Tinder Divorce

A new study suggests couples who meet online may be destined for divorce

Bride and groom wedding cake toppers separated by knife; divorce concept
Are you destined for a Tinder divorce?
Peter Dazeley

A few years ago, Tinder weddings started raising the eyebrows of online dating skeptics everywhere as the growing number of people who met their partners on dating apps began doing the unthinkable: actually marrying each other. Now, a decade or so since dating apps went mainstream, those Tinder weddings have given way to a new trend: the Tinder divorce.

Much, I’m sure, to the delight of traditionalists who believe marriage is a sacred rite reserved only for lovers whose romance began with the sanctity of a drunken bar makeout or workplace smalltalk, a recent study suggests married couples who met online are more likely to divorce than their old-school counterparts. Conducted by the Marriage Foundation and assembled by the UK-based polling company Savanta ComRes, the study of more than 2,000 adults age 30 and up found that 12% of couples who met their spouse online got divorced within three years of marriage, compared to just 2% of partners who met through friends.

In even more bad news for Tinder couples, sticking it out past the three-year mark doesn’t necessarily improve the odds of making it till death do you part. After seven years of marriage, according to the study, the chance of divorce for couples who met online shoots up to 17%, compared to 10% of couples who met through friends.

While couples who let their friends set them up clearly have a leg up over those who met online, couples who met through other means don’t seem to have as pronounced an advantage over lowly internet lovers. The study found that 8% of couples who met in school and 7% of those who linked up through work also divorced within the first three years of marriage.

The Marriage Foundation’s research director, Harry Benson, suggested couples who meet through friends may fare better thanks to stronger social networks surrounding and supporting the relationship, while people who meet online are “marrying as relative strangers” who “might lack sufficient social capital or close support networks around them to deal with all the challenges they face.” This sounds reasonable, but as someone who does not have friends and has literally only ever dated strangers I met on the internet, I simply can’t relate.

I’m also, personally, a big fan of divorce, and like to think of it as something not be feared, but celebrated. Whether you meet online, through your annoying friends who are desperate to set you up with the only other single person they know but are sure you guys would be great together, or wed a literal tech billionaire, there’s a not insignificant chance that a messy divorce awaits us all. Should that deter us from tying the knot in the first place? Absolutely not. Quite the opposite, in fact. I say go ahead and marry that internet stranger. Remember, marriage — whether or not it begins online — always comes with an undo button.

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