Study: where Harry met Sally matters more than when

“Perceptions of what others think are socially acceptable ways and places to meet have a lot to do with approval”



How and where you meet your mate matters most when seeking approval for your relationship, according to a new study by researchers at Cornell University and the University of Indianapolis.

“Perceptions of what others think are socially acceptable ways and places to meet have a lot to do with approval,” said Sharon Sassler professor of policy analysis and management in the College of Human Ecology at Cornell University. “If you met at a bar or an online dating site, you might think peers and parents won’t approve and be supportive of your relationship — and you might be right. Whereas, if you meet where there’s a supportive social network, like at a party hosted by a close friend or a college class, you receive encouragement to continue and deepen the relationship — especially when friends say: ‘We knew you guys were right for each other.’”

Researchers heard 62 revealing, romantic, heartfelt accounts from working-class and middle-class couples they interviewed. And a few “cover stories” from those reluctant to tell how they really met.

“Those who met through ‘traditional’ ways — via friends and/or family members — received more social support,” said Sassler. “Their relationships were, in essence, sanctioned to continue on. And more of these couples got engaged and were planning weddings — often with economic support from parents — than those who met in more anonymous settings, like via the Internet.”

The study, “The ecology of relationships: Meeting locations and cohabitors’ relationship perceptions,” was published in The Journal of Social and Personal Relationships.

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