If you watch cable, it may seem as though everyone’s meeting their significant other at work. Superstore, Brooklyn Nine-Nine and even The Flash — the meet-cutes on the job abound in our binge-worthy TV shows.
But though it may seem romantic, that kind of intimate relationship isn’t oh-so likely in real life. Only about 20% of heterosexual couples met as coworkers in the ’90s, and now that number’s just above 10%. The probability of meeting at work is even lower for same-sex couples.
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In fact, a recent research draft by academics at Stanford University and the University of New Mexico found that, from the end of World War II through 2013, there was one way that at least heterosexual couples tended to meet, and it’s something we take for granted: The intermediation of friends.
“One’s close friends and family have, probably since the beginning of time, been the essential network foci that enable connections to other people, i.e. the friends of one’s friends,” according to the research note.
The internet has replaced our friends
In other words, for decades and maybe centuries, our friends have been setting us up, and we’ve gone along with their blind dates and party introductions. But no more. Not since the Internet took over our dating lives.
The report uses data from a 2017 survey to show that, beginning around 2013, the most popular way heterosexual couples are meeting is online (same-sex couples have been more inclined toward the online space for decades).
“Meeting online has displaced every other way of meeting, including meeting at work,” Michael Rosenfeld, one of the authors from Stanford, told Ladders via email. “Second, greater awareness of sexual harassment as a problem has possibly put a damper on peoples’ initiatives to woo their coworkers.”
They have quite a few hypotheses on why apps and websites such as Tinder, eHarmony, and Match.com are replacing loved ones as our matchmakers. The pool of candidates is much larger online, they say, and matches may be “potentially more discreet than dating a friend’s friend.” Contrary to what most may think, online dating could seem safer to some people, who appreciate the chance to vet their date before meeting in-person. And dating apps tend to be up-to-date with good algorithms, compared to the social judgment of a friend that could perhaps be off.
Whatever the true reason, it seems we’re not looking to our office mates for potential matches, nor are we seeking recommendations from our friends and family as often. It’s all about the online space now, so don’t believe your favorite sitcom.
“We find that Internet meeting is displacing the roles that family and friends once played in bringing couples together,” the note’s authors wrote.
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