Dating has certainly evolved throughout the years. Before the days of online dating and dating apps, it was traditional to meet your spouse through your family, friends, or neighbors. Meeting your spouse at work was also a viable option. However, the 2010s brought in a new era of ways to meet your spouse. According to a recent United Kingdom study, the most popular place for single adults over 30 to meet their future spouses isn’t through family and friends but online. The internet took meeting a potential spouse in bars, work, school, and other places too.

Since 2017, according to Relative Strangers: The Importance of Social Capital for Marriage, a study of about 2,027 married adults led by the Marriage Foundation, most weddings have been with couples who met online, taking the lead over couples who met through friends and family for the first time since the 2010s. This study also shows that even though online dating started taking off between the 1990s and the 2000s, the internet remained the least popular place for individuals to meet a spouse, registering only one percent in the 1990s and seven percent in the 2000s.

Among couples who got married in the 2000s, about nine percent said they met at school, two percentage points above those who said they met online. However, by the 2010s, twenty-one percent of couples said they met their spouse online, the same percentage as couples who met their spouses at work, a bar, or anywhere else. Online dating has become a popular way to meet a spouse in the United States as well. In 2019, Stanford sociologist Michael Rosenfield and his research team found that online dating has become the most common way for heterosexual American adults to find romantic partners. So why has online dating taken off in recent years? Rosenfield and his team found that online dating broadens the dating pool versus traditional networks of friends and family.

Online dating also allows people to control their preferences better and offers an added measure of security. However, there is a downside to dating online. The same study from the Marriage Foundation found that people who meet their spouses online have a greater risk of divorcing in the only first three years. On the bright side, the risk appears to recede over time as people get to know each other better. It’s harder for couples who meet online to gather information about the long-term character of the person they’re dating or marrying without input from family or friends.

Why have so many people flocked to online dating in recent years? It could be because talking to people online is more accessible than talking to people in person. Another reason is online dating gives you more options. If you rely solely on your family and friends, they’ll likely recommend someone you already know. By dating online, you’re able to broaden your horizons and connect with people that you’ve never met before. Online dating may lead to divorce quicker, but that’s an issue that can fix itself. All it takes is spending time getting to know your person on a deeper level. If you’ve been thinking about trying online dating, this is your sign.

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