Old Money and Online Dating

Recently, I enjoyed a lively conversation with JL, one of our readers. He mentioned an article in the Economist magazine that he was reading about online dating. As it turns out–and contrary to everything I would have ever thought to be true–according to the article, people who meet online and begin to date are 30% less likely to divorce when/if they marry.

I was completely dumbfounded. Full disclosure: I haven’t read the article yet. Still, the statistics are very surprising. As an Old Money Guy, I would have advocated being introduced to someone by friends and family, or at university, have a very good idea of who they are and where they come from, and wade very slowly into the romantic waters.

But this is a new time, and perhaps technology isn’t always a bad thing. (If you quote me on that, I will deny it, regardless of the evidence. Wink, nod.)

As I thought about it, however, there might be a ‘reverse, low-tech logic’ to this process that leads to an increase in the success of these relationships. First, I’ve heard that dating sites like e-harmony and match.com require a substantial commitment of time to fill out their forms and go through their protocols.

This sets up a first filter: the people on these sites are serious about finding a partner or spouse, not just messing around. The second thing they allegedly do is match you up with compatible candidates. This means that you’re more likely to meet someone who’s also looking for a serious relationship and, based on their analytics, likely to click with you on some fundamental level.

Finally, the initial contact–from what I’ve heard second hand–is that the initial contact is via email. This means that you’ve got to have a conversation first. You are required to express yourself, not with a charming smile or coy look, but with words.  This filter is key because this is what an enduring relationship is all about. The romance may come and go. The conversation–the dialogue–is always there in marriage or a long term commitment, whether it’s a candlelit dinner or driving to the in-laws for Sunday dinner.

I think these three filters or demands might be what is contributing to the relationship success of people who use online dating services. Are they serious? Are they compatible (in general)? Is there chemistry in conversation? Of course, nothing can predict what will happen in that magic moment when you first meet someone in person for the first time, but these services might be onto something with these protocols. I’ll remain neutral and wait for more data.

If I was more entrepreneurial, I’d come up with an Old Money dating site. For now, though, I’ll leave it to Silicon Valley…and the gods of love. Like the old song says, Cupid, draw back your bow…

  • BGT

15 thoughts on “Old Money and Online Dating

  1. Dear Mr. Tully,
    My husband and I enjoy your blog and value the thoughts we find here, especially as we are raising our son. We were delighted to read this post because we met online. We both had similar experiences: being immediately attracted to someone in person, then discovering after extended courtship that the ‘spark’ had blinded us to long-term incompatibilities. Online dating was basically a safe-guard that allowed the ‘spark’ to happen with people we were fairly (as it turns out, accurately) sure shared certain fundamental (self-selected) values. My grandmother told me that in her day you would join a country club to do the same thing. Of course, online dating is what you make of it – people can use it for all kinds of ends.


  2. I am third generation old money. My wife and I have been happily married for 19 years. We were introduced by an algorithm.

    There’s a wonderful scene in Downton Abbey in which Lady Catherine and Matthew tour the estate talking about how new techniques can be applied to the old to renew and protect the longevity of the family. It’s instructive all round, but especially for old money.

    I see online dating, in fact all things virtual, as agnostic on matters of class. The mechanism by which society used to match people was the Friday church dance, the spring racing calendar or the country club. While that still exists, today people meet their future spouses, purchase their cars and buy their houses via the Internet.

    In finding a spouse, whether London’s Season in Downton Abbey days or at Match.com, caveat emptor endures.


  3. I met my wife online, back in AOL days, when meeting someone face to face that you met online was frowned upon. We moved from sending messages to phone conversations fairly quickly. I wasn’t willing to make the drive to see her, I was looking for fun without no commitment.

    However, we talked regularly over the course of 12 weeks, then her job assignment was over and she back in town. We met finally, and I realized how those conversation laid a foundation for an actually relationship. I don’t recommend this next part 🙂 but we were engaged about 3 months later, that was 16 years ago. I’m a firm believer in a low tech lifestyle… but there’s something noteworthy in tech – if it can take an approach that allows at least some time for development and connection, if one doesn’t have the disciple to take it slow.


  4. I love this posting because it relates to the interesting way I found my better half. If your a gentleman wearing Khaki’s and oxford shirts while maintaining proper deportment isn’t a quick way of finding a young lady for marriage. Nor is going out to wealthy area’s of Long Island and acting like a party animal. Country clubs tend to have attached couples and private schools simply have a low enrollment and not a selection for either male or female to have a fulfilling dating life when selecting a spouse. When I was ready for a spouse (I had a good job and savings) I researched how people met in the early part of the 20th century who didn’t have large families or close communities for introductions. The answer was a marriage broker. I found one and after asking me questions and charging me a fee they started to send me the names of 5 ladies per month that I was to call and setup a date with. One of the rules was I had to dress in a shirt, tie and blazer. I had a wonderful time since I met all kinds of different ladies and some from different cultures who truly wanted to have commit to a family life. I met my spouse shortly thereafter and we hit it off right away and I asked for her hand in marriage on our third date and we have been happily married for 15 years and counting.

    People need to be honest and just be decent but more importantly be committed to a marriage and family. Having a lot of the same interests doesn’t matter at all. Having a mutual interest in Cross-Fit is not going to do a thing when you are up 4:00 AM in the morning with a sick child or holding a spouses hand when the wake up from an operation.


  5. Ah, old money keeps an open mind!

    I truly understand how online match-ups allow people to keep their head in the game, to make smart choices, to find just what they (believe) they are looking for, so they do not fall under the spell of someone’s big brown eyes. And yet…. (Henry Higgins moment), the meandering path of a long and ambiguous friendship, and the experiences- even mistakes along the way that create our character are worth the struggle to me. Yes, I’m a romantic fool, but I know it.

    What I love is the written component that has been reintroduced in relationships. Text messages can tell you a lot about how quick-witted and playful someone is. Re-reading a message from someone is very old-fashioned and wonderful.


  6. I firmly believe in a low tech lifestyle, but there’s a noteworthy quality to consider when a tech platform can create an appropriate distance that allows for development and proper expectation. Great post.


      1. Thank you for the welcome, and the books. “Live better while spending less” assisted me on my first major adjustment/decision in the way I look at spending and debt. Priceless insight.


  7. My husband and I have been married for 18 years. We dated long distance (300 miles) for a year before getting married. While we visited each other occasionally, most of our dating was comprised of nearly nightly phone calls often lasting for an hour or two. Perhaps low tech compared to online dating, but to your point the ability to communicate with your spouse is key to a long relationship. We have few shared interests, but we still can happily converse for hours on end.


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