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Instead of interacting with the people around her, she chose to search for a companion elsewhere online.
I wondered to myself, is this what online dating has done to us?
The interview has been edited for length and clarity.
You have one of the most unique data sets about modern romance. Well, one of the first things you have to know to understand how dating — or really courtship rituals, since not everyone calls it dating — has changed over time is that the age of marriage in the United States has increased dramatically over time.
For folks who are meeting people everyday—really younger people in their early twenties—online dating is relevant, but it really becomes a powerful force for people in thin dating markets.
In a 2012 paper, I wrote about how among heterosexuals, the people who are most likely to use online dating are the middle-aged folks, because they’re the ones in the thinnest dating market.
People used to marry in their early 20s, which meant that most dating that was done, or most courting that was done, was done with the intention of settling down right away.
Part of what you have uncovered during your research is how drastic the rise of online dating has been.On her screen, images of men appeared and then disappeared to the left and right, depending on the direction in which she wiped.I felt a deep sense a rejection -- not personally, but on behalf of everyone at the bar.That's something not everyone thinks this is a good thing. The worry about online dating comes from theories about how too much choice might be bad for you.The idea is that if you’re faced with too many options you will find it harder to pick one, that too much choice is demotivating.
(For gay couples, it's more like two out of every three).