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This environment, mind you, is just like the one we see in the offline world.There’s no obvious pattern by which people who meet online are worse off. For people who have a hard time finding partners in their day-to-day, face-to-face life, the larger subset of potential partners online is a big advantage for them.But the fear that online dating is changing us, collectively, that it's creating unhealthy habits and preferences that aren't in our best interests, is being driven more by paranoia than it is by actual facts."There are a lot of theories out there about how online dating is bad for us," Michael Rosenfeld, a sociologist at Stanford who has been conducting a long-running study of online dating, told me the other day.It’s harder to feel alone when you’re 23, because everyone is a potential partner.But when you get to 40, most people your age are already settled down.We see this in consumer goods — if there are too many flavors of jam at the store, for instance, you might feel that it’s just too complicated to consider the jam aisle, you might end up skipping it all together, you might decide it's not worth settling down with one jam. I don’t think that that theory, even if it’s true for something like jam, applies to dating.I actually don’t see in my data any negative repercussions for people who meet partners online.
The rise of phone apps and online dating websites gives people access to more potential partners than they could meet at work or in the neighborhood.
It makes it easier for someone who is looking for something very specific in a partner to find what they are looking for.
It also helps the people who use the apps by allowing them to enjoy a pattern of regular hookups that don’t have to lead to relationships.
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.