New Study Shows That Online Dating is the Main Way U.S. Couples Meet

A couple who met online dating getting married on the beach.

Everybody knows at least a handful of couples that met online. They’re your friends, your siblings, or maybe it’s you and your partner. And according to the data, the trend is picking up steam. According to a new study conducted by Michael Rosenfeld, Reuben J. Thomas, and Sonia Hausen at Stanford University, online dating was the leading way that straight couples met in 2017. Nearly 40% of heterosexual couples reported meeting online, and 65% of same-sex couples.

This means online dating recently unseated meeting through friends as the most popular way to meet a long-term romantic partner. (Meeting through friends is now in third place at 20% behind online dating and meeting in a bar or restaurant, which is at 27%. Meeting people through family sits at a measly 7%.)

So, what’s this all mean? Well, the researchers offered up four main reasons that probably explain why online dating is beating out the old-fashioned way of meeting people through friends and family.   

There are more people to reach out to online.
This one’s pretty straight forward. Your friends and your family simply can’t introduce you to  as many people as popular online dating services can. There are now millions of people on each of the major online platforms, which gives daters access to a more diverse set of people outside of their usual social groups. And this large pool of daters is even more relevant for groups looking for non-traditional relationships, like members of the LGTBQ population.

Family and friends don’t always know what their single friends are looking for.
Believe it or not, a lot of people don’t like to share their dating habits with everyone in their circle, which means your friends and family members might not be equipped to help you find who you’re looking for. Online dating offers the privacy that brokering relationships through friends and family doesn’t.

Not to mention, online dating services also offer a degree of separation before the physical meeting that allows singles to vet potential romantic interests before meeting up. It’s an added safety measure that isn’t an option when going into a date blind.

Online dating services encourage up-to-date information.
If your friends and families are connecting you with someone, chances are they’re not close enough with the person to have all the life updates that could make or break a compatibility decision—meaning the set up is made with less accurate information.

Dating algorithms have the potential to get better over time.
And your friends and family? Not so much. But it’s not their fault, you can’t expect to improve your matchmaking skills if you don’t do it all that often. Technology, however, does have its advantages. . The more swipes you make and messages you send the better an online dating service gets to know you and who your interested in, and odds are it’s going to have a better idea of who your attracted to than your parents. Think about the number of people you see on a dating site and tell the app you’re interested in, vs. the number or people your parents tell you about and get your opinion on. The app just has more information.

There you have it. Online dating is officially the most popular way for people to meet in America.

Alex Bocknek

Alex Bocknek is the senior editor of The Date Mix and works at Zoosk, the online dating service. He’s also a recovering music critic and an aspiring fiction writer (probably lost) on the way to an independent bookstore near you. He can be found occasionally musing about politics, philosophy, and love in the modern world.

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