Love is in the air, despite the pandemic. As we celebrate Valentine’s Day, the Institute for Family Studies partnered with YouGov to ask about 1500 young adults in America to share memories on their dating journey. We asked three big questions: “How did you meet your spouse/partner?”, “Who asked for the first date?”, and “How happy are you with your relationship?” Here is what we found:
1. Online is the most popular place for couples ages 35 and younger to meet. More than one-third of young adults in a romantic relationship met their partner online, so did 29% of cohabiting young adults, and 25% of married young adults.
2. Men are much more likely than women to say they asked for the first date, regardless of the couples’ relationship status. Compared to men who didn’t make the first move, men who did are much more likely to say they are very happy with their relationship (70% vs. 46%). The same story doesn’t apply to women, though. Women who asked for the first date are slightly less likely than those who didn’t to say they are very happy with their relationship (59% vs. 63%). The gap among married women is bigger.
3. Relationship satisfaction is higher among married young women than their cohabiting or dating peers. In fact, 68% of married young women say they are “very happy.” On the other hand, young women who live with a partner but are not married are the least happy with their relationship; 55% say they are very happy.
4. How you met your spouse/partner is somewhat linked to relationship happiness, with young adults who met in bars/restaurants being the least happy. Among married young adults, those who met their partner at church or other religious activities are the happiest with their marriage: 76% say they are very happy, followed by those who met at parties/events (73%) and school or college (73%). The share among married young adults who met online is somewhat lower (61%).
5. Other key findings from the survey are shown in the figures below:
Wendy Wang is director of research at the Institute for Family Studies. Her work has been featured in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and many other venues.