Can you swipe your way to long-lasting love?
An unsettling new study, published last week, says no: UK researchers found that 12% of couples who meet on dating apps get divorced within the first three years of marriage, compared to just 2% of couples who were introduced by friends or family.
The reason: Couples with stronger shared support networks — such as friends in common — have an easier time weathering storms together than those that don’t.
But don’t delete your dating apps just yet. Couples who met online in the dinosaur days of the internet — like the early 2000s — are still going strong, thanks to good scrolling and decades of developing similar values.
Denise Buzy-Pucheu, now 60, met her husband, Cary Correia, now 57, in 2000, and they have been married for 20 years. Two decades ago, you needed a modem (and lots of patience) to date online — and you didn’t exactly brag about it to your friends.
“Back then, I wasn’t going to bars and it wasn’t like anyone was introducing me to anyone,” said Buzy-Pucheu, who lives in Sandy Hook, Connecticut, about why she turned to the web to find a mate. The owner of The Persnickety Bride, a full service bridal salon in town, said that she loves how far things have come: “Now I tell all my girls how I met my husband when they come to my shop to buy their wedding gowns!”
When Buzy-Pucheu met Correia, now a data science executive, she was living in Mount Vernon, New York, and Correia lived in midtown Manhattan. “I was on the site for two years and, before I met him, I would print out my date’s information and phone number,” she said. “I would tell my friends, ‘If you don’t hear from me in the next three hours, call the cops.’ That’s what it was like then!”
While she admits to dating a lot of “frogs,” something about Correia, who is from Canada, intrigued her.
“Canadians are sweeter and more open than cynical New Yorkers,” said Buzy-Pucheu. “I like that he wrote on his profile that if he met someone he wanted to start a family with, he would ask that person to get married. It wasn’t just that ‘I want to find a soulmate’ routine. Then, when we met in person, we just clicked.”
After they tied the knot, the couple adopted three children — two from Kazakhstan and one from China — now ages 19, 19 and 16.
“We love and respect each other greatly,” she said. “We’re both very hard-working and I think that our Type A-ness has kept us together.”
Jennifer Bickerton, now 48, who met her husband, Brison, now 51, on Match.com in 2003, laughs when she thinks about the lengths it took to get her profile up on the site and pay for it (she recalls that it cost $19.99 for a three-month membership).
“I would sneak into my office to scan my photos to a disc drive,” says Bickerton, who was 29 when both she and Brison were living in midtown Manhattan and dialing up dates. “It took me two weeks to get it done!”
Bickerton, who has run her own PR firm for 15 years, married Brison, an energy trader and analyst, 17 years ago and the couple now lives in Rowayton, Connecticut, with their three kids, ages 11, 13 and 14.
She attributes their long marriage to their similar childhoods.
“We were both raised by single moms and neither of our fathers were in the picture,” she said. “I knew this was a guy who knew how to struggle, and he knew I shared that experience. From the beginning, we had this bond that I don’t think other people have four months into a relationship.”
And, while Bickerton had pals who were doing online dating, there was so much stigma around it at the time that their entire friend group treated it like a communal secret.
“All of us had these big media jobs and, still, we vowed not to talk about it with anyone outside our circle,” she said. “In fact, it was so unacceptable that Brison didn’t want our Cantor to mention how we met during our wedding ceremony. She ended up saying something like, ‘When Jennifer clicked on Brison’s picture’ and then she went on with the ceremony. Brison squeezed my hand so tight that I think I lost circulation. The cat was out of the bag!”
While no one gives online love a second thought today, back when the technology was new, some major drama often ensued.
Just ask Eric Puente, who met his now-wife, Christine, on Match.com in 1999 after just three months on the site. The couple, who got married in 2001, currently live in Croton-on-Hudson, New York, with their two daughters, ages 15 and 18.
“When I first wrote ‘I love you’ in an email, Christine was on a conference call and since we had dial-up back then her computer wasn’t connected,” said Eric, now 55, who works in cybersecurity. “My ‘I love you’ stayed out there for hours and I was freaking out!”
When Christine finally plugged in, she reciprocated the sentiment. It was lucky timing, given that right before Eric messaged her she was about to pull the plug on Match.com.
“I had already canceled my membership,” said Christine, now 50, who works in corporate communications and still looks at the printed-out messages the two exchanged when they first met from time to time. “I was disillusioned and I didn’t want a boyfriend. If he wasn’t so cute, our whole story would have been different!”
To get the skinny on how some old-school internet-connected couples are still making it work, we asked three to share the secrets of their success.
Keep it low maintenance
“I dated a lot of guys on Match.com over the years — probably close to 200. I just couldn’t find anyone normal and sane. I remember mentioning this to my now-husband Victor during our first phone calls and he said, ‘I’m the most normal and sane guy you will ever meet,’ and he was totally right. There was no drama, BS, let me wait three days before I call her back after the first date, etc. Perhaps he operated this way because he’s not American — he’s from Holland. Either way, it worked!”—Jane Coloccia, 58, met Victor Teixeira, 58, online in 2007 and got married to him in 2010. The couple lives in Oregon.
Find common ground
“After we connected online, we realized that we had actually met in 1978 at JFK Airport — I was a flight attendant and he worked in cargo. I think our marriage success is due to both of us growing up in same neighborhood, we have the same family values, we were both single for a long time and were both ready to settle down.”—Mary McKenna, 67, met John Mahoney, 65, on Matchmaker.com in 2002 and married him in 2004. They live in Bellmore, New York.
Be thoughtful about blending families
“We each had a son from a previous marriage, we had both been divorced for five-plus years and we were both ready for a serious commitment. Also, our primary concern was the well-being of our sons, then six and five. We understood that each of our children was preeminent and that we were looking for not just a good match for ourselves but for our kids.”—Jim Wasserman, 60, met Jiab Yuwachit Wasserman, 56, on Match.com in 2002; they married in 2003 and now live in Dallas. Their sons are now 27 and 26.
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