Almost 40% of straight couples and 65% of same-sex couples meet online

The authors of the study suggest that people rely on dating sites like Tinder and Match.com for dating, even though they are “faceless corporations.”

A new study shows just how normalized online dating has become in the last 12 years. Sociologists Michael Rosenfeld and Sonia Hausen of Stanford University, along with Reuben Thomas of Arizona State University, looked at data from the years-long How Couples Meet and Stay Together survey and found that, in 2017, meeting online was the most popular way for people to meet a romantic partner.

For heterosexuals, 39% of couples met online. For same-sex couples, it was significantly higher, at 65%. (The study notes that same-sex couples were “early adopters” of online dating). Compare that to 1995, where the percentage of couples who met online was only 2% and the practice was somewhat stigmatized.

The authors of the study suggest that people rely on dating sites like Tinder and Match.com for dating, even though they are “faceless corporations” and not someone they know – like a mother or a friend – because the “sets of people connected to Tinder, Match, and eHarmony are larger than the sets of people connected to one’s mother or friend.” The larger the set, the more likely you are to find that needle in the haystack.

With the land of plenty already in front of them online, fewer couples are meeting the traditional ways – through family, mutual friends, and coworkers.

  • In 1995, 33% of couples met through mutual friends, and 15% met through family.
  • In 2017, just 20% of couples met through mutual friends and only 7% met through family.
  • Interestingly, as recently as 2009, through friends was still the most common was couples met. This was surpassed by online dating in 2013.
  • 19% of couples met through work in 1995, but just 11% did the same in 2017.
  • Pairing up in college declined gradually as well, with 9% of couples forming in 1995 and 4% hooking up in 2017.

If swiping right is not for you, try a bar or a restaurant – the only meeting place outside the Internet that saw growth. In 1995 19% of couples met in a bar or restaurant, but interestingly a whopping 27% did in 2017 so it still is possible.

Sheila McClear|is a reporter for Ladders and can be reached at smcclear@theladders.com.