Every couple has been asked the timeless question, “where did you two meet?” but never do they have the same answer or story. Some people believe that 90% of people end up marrying their 7-12 grade sweetheart. This “statistic” suggests that by far the most common response, and a rather simple one: an overwhelming majority of married couples planted their romantic roots for one another in secondary school.
Is there any validity to the statistic? In an earlier period of time, when a greater percentage of people tended to marry much younger, lived in rural areas and stayed close to their birthplaces. When the opportunities for meeting with the opposite sex after high school were constrained due to social norms and a distinct separation of the sexes in the workplace and higher education. Still, there has been no evidence to prove that the 90% figure was true in the United States for the past few decades.
While statistics about how married couples met are different not only from year to year, but even survey to survey, recent years have consistently shown that more couples find each other through family, friends, college acquaintances, co-workers, or on the Internet instead of through secondary school.
A Harris Interactive online survey of more than 10,000 people who married during from about 2006 to 2007 determined that 19% of the couples met online. 17% met at work or through co-workers, and 17% who met through friends. In a survey taken in 2004 asking almost 5000 couples who married from September 2004 through August 2005 only resulted in 14% met online, in contrast to 20% at work and 17% through friends.
A different Harris Interactive survey asked couples in a relationship, not married per say, “how did you meet your current partner?” and gathered a table of information. The school category, which combined secondary school and college, resulted in only 14% of the total respondent base.
In analyzing these surveys, one must realize that potential biases in survey methods exist, such as the online survey targeting people who met online than other survey methods would. It seems absolutely clear that these and other surveys conducted in the early 1990s represent nowhere nearly close to 90% of U.S. marriages are couples who were secondary school sweethearts.
Former major league baseball player Cal Ripken Jr.’s “how they met” story about him and his wife is quite funny:
“In 1984, Cal was approached for his autograph by a middle-aged woman who said, “please sign it to my daughter Kelly, because my other daughter’s spoken for.” He signed it, “To Kelly- if you look anything like your mother sorry I missed you.”
About two months later, a young woman approached him and said, “thanks for being so nice to my mom.”
Cal replied, “Oh, are you Kelly?”
She was and now she’s Mrs. Ripken.”
Steven J Sypa | Elite.