Online Relationships in MENA – More Acceptable for Men

Online Relationships in MENA – More Acceptable for Men
  • 1/3rd think online relationships are unacceptable
  • 79% believe social networks make it easier for partners to cheat
  • 28% check partner’s accounts

These are the findings from an Al Aan TV poll conducted by YouGov of 2018 MENA residents, conducted between 24th October and 3rd November.

The majority of respondents believe online relationships are acceptable, common and becoming increasingly popular but it seems it is slightly more acceptable for males to engage in online relationships, than for females.  However, not all behavior is viewed as acceptable by the majority of respondents, for example, 80% of respondents across MENA believe it is not acceptable for someone who is married to meet, in person, an individual of the opposite sex, whom they initially met online.

Overall, almost 2/3rds (64%) of respondents believe that online dating is “very/somewhat acceptable” but 32% feel it is “very/somewhat unacceptable”.

The percent of respondents that think it is acceptable for a:

  • Single man talking to women online – 59%
  • Single women talking to men online – 49%
  • Single man meeting a woman he met online – 48%
  • Single woman meeting a man she met online – 36%
  • Married man talking to women online – 31%
  • Married women talking to men online – 21%
  • Married man meeting a woman he met online – 19%
  • Married women meeting a man she met online – 15%
  • Man to marry a woman he met online – 50%
  • Woman to marry a man she met online – 44%

Despite 1/3rd of respondents views that online relationships are unacceptable, 83% believe these relationships are common - with a third thinking they are extremely common (typically, 18-24 year old, singletons who are studying/not working). The majority of respondents (77%) believe online relationships are becoming much more popular.

The majority of respondents (89%) agree that online relationships are not the same as a real, in person relationships, but 68% still say they constitute infidelity and 79% believe social media sites make it easier for people to cheat on their partners. This may explain why over half of the sample think it is acceptable, when married, to have complete access to a partners social media accounts.

If they found out their partner was having an online relationship (by this we mean having romantic involvement without real life interaction) with someone they had never met in real life, the majority of respondents claim they would get angry and confront/talk to their partner about it - however 15% would want a divorce.  Irrespective of this, 93% claim they trust their partner when they are online but when asked if they have ever checked their partner’s emails/social media accounts, 28% admit they have. This highlights the fact some respondents may say they trust their partners but still feel the need to check their online accounts.

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