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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.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 may be because expectations are inflated and idealized in the absence of more actual information about the other person: in fact, the effect is lower when there is greater communication and disclosure.

Of that first group, 94 participants had a first date, and completed the full survey, which included measures drawn from the literature on relationships and online dating. In addition, they collected the emails study participants sent prior to meeting and carefully coded the content into thematic units.

This is the first such study to look at how dating evolves over time during the transition from online to in-person dating, and future work from this group will look at factors beyond the first in-person date. The data, drawn directly from online conversation, included 1) expressed similarity, 2) frequency of disclosure, and 3) information seeking, and they rated the communication volume based on the amount of words in the emails. First of all, they found that most participants were disappointed after the first date, as indicated by having less attraction after meeting than during online engagement.

Yet, 1/3rd of people who have used a dating site have never met up for an in-person date.

Lastly, in spite of the rise in online dating, only 5% of married couples or those in a committed relationship say they met their partners online, and 88% of people say they met their partners via conventional means.

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