While people still write, “we can say we met at Trader Joe’s” and other “cover stories” in their Tinder bios, I think it’s safe to say that online dating has pretty much lost its stigma.
In fact, if you’re single, I almost feel that it’s rarer to not use dating apps than to be swiping away on Bumble in your free time—at least as someone in their 20s.
Data shows that this is probably true. 40% of Americans use online dating, with slightly more men than women using online dating (52.4% vs. 47.6%). And, 20% of current committed relationships began online.
While there can certainly be downsides to the surge in the popularity of online dating, there can also be plenty of benefits—a study released from Stanford University highlights a big one: Couples who met online are more likely to be diverse than those who met in more traditional ways.
The Stanford study surveyed 3,510 U.S. adults who were either currently in relationships, have previously been in a relationship, or were married.
Of course, this finding may not surprise you. If you’re not using apps, you’re probably meeting people who hang out in your social circles, your workplace, your neighborhood, etc. Most of the time, those people are more similar to you—whether in terms of ethnic background or political affiliation. When apps come into the picture—you’re opened up to a whole world of beautiful people that probably wouldn’t cross paths with you in your everyday life.
There’s also the fact that young people are more likely to be using dating apps, and younger people may be more open to dating someone “different” from them—whether racially, ethnically, or culturally.
But the Stanford study isn’t the only research into “intercultural” couples. Economists Josué Ortega and Philipp Hergovich developed a theoretical framework and simulation to mimic how dating apps match potential partners. Their findings? Online dating corresponded with not only more interracial marriages, but actually much stronger marriages. Marriages formed through online dating were less likely to break up within the first year and more likely to report a higher degree of satisfaction.
Ortega also mentions that dating platforms have been particularly helpful for people in the queer community, and older people looking for partners. Anyone who’s had to go from dating while in school to dating in the “adult” world knows that it increasingly gets harder to meet someone organically as you get older—at least generally. Studies echo this theory too, with more same-sex couples meeting online than opposite-sex couples.
It can be tempting to think that your Prince Charming or Mrs. Right is someone who has a similar background, culture, religion, or race that you do—but haven’t you ever heard that opposites attract? The beauty of apps is that you have the potential of connecting with people that you would probably never meet in your day-to-day life (especially if like me, you’re a bit of an introvert).
Even if you’re not on apps, social media platforms like Instagram and Twitter similarly bring us all a little bit closer to those who may be “different” from us in some way. Whether you’re matching with a foreign hottie on an app or simply exchanging ideas with someone who has different political ideals than you on Twitter—interacting with those who are different from us makes us smarter, more well-rounded individuals—and I think that’s something we can all get behind.