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Meeting online has become the most popular way U.S. couples connect, Stanford sociologist finds,What to read next:

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It may be hard to find another Swedish Lutheran libertarian punk rock fan who loves rock climbing and has an MBA at your workplace or local tavern, but you can find them when looking at all of the online daters in your city, state or country. In that case, online dating could become even more segregating than other sources of romance. The internet is not creating more heterosexual couples than would exist otherwise, though it may be increasing the number of same-sex couples.

Since at least the mid s, the rate of U. residents in their 30s and 40s who are cohabitating or married percent , and of women aged who have a boyfriend or husband percent , has been steady. There seems to be some growth in the numbers of same-sex couples since the s, but it is hard to disentangle the effect of the internet from the profound social and legal changes that have also occurred for same-sex couples during this time.

Despite its marketing, I have not yet seen clear evidence that couples who meet online are happier or stay together longer. And the tendency for people to find romance with those who agree with them politically 54 percent of couples are party-homogenous is roughly the same online and off. But these could change in the future as well. The industry has so far largely avoided deep public scrutiny, particularly compared to the recent spotlight that has been aimed at other tech companies.

Online dating may soon account for the majority of new couples in the U. Yet in spite of this important social role, the industry has so far largely avoided deep public scrutiny, particularly compared to the recent spotlight that has been aimed at other tech companies.

There is a growing conversation about the ways the matching algorithms in dating sites control who sees whom, however, which may be discouraging even more diverse pairings. Expect more public attention to how the most popular sites and apps operate, how their algorithms and interfaces sort users, and what data they keep, share and sell. And as the stakes of this social change become clearer to everyone, expect online dating to become more politically contentious even as it becomes a more taken-for-granted part of social life.

Reuben J. Thomas is an associate professor of sociology at the University of New Mexico. He studies the sources of friendships and romance, and how networks of interpersonal relationships are related to inequality and group boundaries. IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser. SKIP TO CONTENT. News NBC News NOW Nightly News Meet the Press Dateline MSNBC TODAY Search.

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Search Search. Back then, if people used online websites, they still turned to friends for help setting up their profile page. Friends also helped screen potential romantic interests. I was surprised at how much online dating has displaced the help of friends in meeting a romantic partner. Our previous thinking was that the role of friends in dating would never be displaced. But it seems like online dating is displacing it. What do you believe led to the shift in how people meet their significant other?

There are two core technological innovations that have each elevated online dating. The first innovation was the birth of the graphical World Wide Web around There had been a trickle of online dating in the old text-based bulletin board systems prior to , but the graphical web put pictures and search at the forefront of the internet.

Pictures and search appear to have added a lot to the internet dating experience. The second core innovation is the spectacular rise of the smart phone in the s.

Also, the online dating systems have much larger pools of potential partners compared to the number of people your mother knows, or the number of people your best friend knows. Dating websites have enormous advantages of scale. Even if most of the people in the pool are not to your taste, a larger choice set makes it more likely you can find someone who suits you.

When it comes to single people looking for romantic partners, the online dating technology is only a good thing, in my view. In addition, in our study we found that the success of a relationship did not depend on whether the people met online or not. I think that internet dating is a modest positive addition to our world.

People who have in the past had trouble finding a potential partner benefit the most from the broader choice set provided by the dating apps. Internet dating has the potential to serve people who were ill-served by family, friends and work.

Online dating is often treated as a wacky new trend. Since people started living in big societies several thousand years ago, couples have gotten together mostly because their families wanted them to. Even since then, this individual search for love has usually ended with a romantic introduction through family or friends. has become a place where it is common for newlyweds to have recently been perfect strangers — without any friends or acquaintances in common, without families that knew each other — until the couple found each other through online dating.

This rise in the pairing off of total strangers is changing the kinds of couples that become families, and that is changing the makeup of the next generation of Americans they raise. Most dramatically, online dating is acting as a desegregating force in the U.

and creating families that blur social boundaries, which can lead to those boundaries becoming less meaningful over time. They are also more likely to be from different religions 51 percent versus 38 percent , both in how they were raised and in which religion they practice as adults. Couples who met online are also more likely to have one college graduate and one nongraduate 30 percent versus 22 percent , bridging the biggest educational and social class divide in America today.

The research used probability samples of American adult couples from and , using a survey completed online but including those who did not have prior internet access to ensure accurate representation across the country. population of couples as a whole is increasing. Diverse couples have enormous potential to bridge the social groups that define their diversity, acting as pathways for information, introductions and social support across the different kinds of families and communities they were raised in.

Diverse families can be powerful agents of desegregation, creating diverse social networks of friendships and acquaintances around them. Online dating could have developed as merely a more efficient system of friends and family setting up singles with other singles they know.

Such a system could still become the standard way to find love online in the not-too-distant future, such as through social networking sites, and this would probably not create more diverse couples than traditional romantic sources. One can also imagine people using online dating tools to find mates who are as similar to themselves as possible. People attempt to do that to some extent right now: Every study of how online daters behave on these sites has found that they are more likely to message and respond to other people of the same race or ethnicity, the same religion, the same education level , etc.

But people are also biased in whom they choose to interact with offline. Since the dating pools on most sites and apps are so much more diverse than offline pools, it only takes a little open-mindedness online to produce more diverse couples.

Still, online dating could be used to find a partner who matches not just in one way, but in just about every way. It may be hard to find another Swedish Lutheran libertarian punk rock fan who loves rock climbing and has an MBA at your workplace or local tavern, but you can find them when looking at all of the online daters in your city, state or country.

In that case, online dating could become even more segregating than other sources of romance. The internet is not creating more heterosexual couples than would exist otherwise, though it may be increasing the number of same-sex couples.

Since at least the mid s, the rate of U. residents in their 30s and 40s who are cohabitating or married percent , and of women aged who have a boyfriend or husband percent , has been steady. There seems to be some growth in the numbers of same-sex couples since the s, but it is hard to disentangle the effect of the internet from the profound social and legal changes that have also occurred for same-sex couples during this time.

Despite its marketing, I have not yet seen clear evidence that couples who meet online are happier or stay together longer. And the tendency for people to find romance with those who agree with them politically 54 percent of couples are party-homogenous is roughly the same online and off. But these could change in the future as well. The industry has so far largely avoided deep public scrutiny, particularly compared to the recent spotlight that has been aimed at other tech companies.

Online dating may soon account for the majority of new couples in the U. Yet in spite of this important social role, the industry has so far largely avoided deep public scrutiny, particularly compared to the recent spotlight that has been aimed at other tech companies.

There is a growing conversation about the ways the matching algorithms in dating sites control who sees whom, however, which may be discouraging even more diverse pairings. Expect more public attention to how the most popular sites and apps operate, how their algorithms and interfaces sort users, and what data they keep, share and sell.

And as the stakes of this social change become clearer to everyone, expect online dating to become more politically contentious even as it becomes a more taken-for-granted part of social life. Reuben J. Thomas is an associate professor of sociology at the University of New Mexico. He studies the sources of friendships and romance, and how networks of interpersonal relationships are related to inequality and group boundaries. IE 11 is not supported.

For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser. SKIP TO CONTENT. News NBC News NOW Nightly News Meet the Press Dateline MSNBC TODAY Search. Share this —. NBC News Logo. Follow think. MORE FROM NBC News Better. About Contact Help Careers Ad Choices Privacy Policy Do Not Sell My Personal Information CA Notice Terms of Service NBC News Sitemap Advertise Select Shopping Select Personal Finance © NBCNEWS. Search Search. Facebook Twitter Email SMS Print Whatsapp Reddit Pocket Flipboard Pinterest Linkedin.

By Reuben J. Thomas, associate professor of sociology at the University of New Mexico. Related Opinion. Opinion What dating as a lesbian feels like on apps filled with straight men. Is love a choice or a feeling? Five couples share their stories Feb. Opinion We want to hear what you THINK.

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Online dating, now the most common way for couples to meet, is desegregating America,Search form

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Online dating has become the most common way for Americans to find romantic partners. has become a place where it is common for newlyweds to have recently been perfect strangers — without any friends or acquaintances in common, without families that knew each other — until the couple found each other through online dating. couples connect, Stanford sociologist finds Matchmaking is now done primarily by algorithms, according to new research from Stanford sociologist Michael Rosenfeld. One can also imagine people using online dating tools to find mates who are as similar to themselves as possible. Thomas, associate professor of sociology at the University of New Mexico. Our previous thinking was that the role of friends in dating would never be displaced. Even if most of the people in the pool are not to your taste, a larger choice set makes it more likely you can find someone who suits you.

Five couples share their stories Feb. Matchmaking is now done primarily by algorithms, according to new research from Stanford sociologist Michael Rosenfeld. The internet is not creating more heterosexual couples most common online dating would exist otherwise, though it may be increasing the number of same-sex couples. They are also more likely to be from different religions 51 percent versus 38 percentboth in how they were raised and in which religion they practice as adults, most common online dating. Sincetraditional ways of meeting partners — through family, in church and in the neighborhood — have all been in decline, Rosenfeld said.

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