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.
The ability to find out more ahead of time, versus the proverbial "blind date" or even meeting a stranger at a party, is an advantage that online dating has over conventional dating—if you ask questions, and if the other person genuinely shares.
Similarly, greater communication predicted a more successful first date, especially when people really were similar to each other.
How do couples move from online dating to that all-important first date?
What online dating behaviors and factors set the stage for a successful first date, and the potential for an ongoing relationship?
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.
Sharabi and Caughlin (2017) set out to investigate the question of what predicts first date success in their recent work.
They surveyed 186 participants who were using online dating, and had at least one person they were thinking of meeting in person.
There was no point at which there was too much similarity, at least right after the first date.
Further research is required to see if and when this more-is-better finding carries out over the long run.
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.