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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.
Is it creating a new reality in which people actively avoid real-life interactions?
Of course, others have worried about these sorts of questions before.
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.
In fact, people who meet their partners online are not more likely to break up — they don’t have more transitory relationships.
"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.
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.
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.