2019 research from Stanford University has shown a rise in the percentage of new heterosexual couples that begin their relationships by meeting online. The study analyses data from a nationally representative survey of US citizens.
Of the heterosexual relationships beginning in 1995, 2% started online. This figure had risen to 39% by the year 2017.
33% met through friends at the earlier date, but this had declined to 20% over the same time period. The percentage meeting through family dropped (15% to 7%), as did the share meeting through work (19% to 11%) and primary / secondary school (10% to 5%).
The only way to meet that saw an increase in popularity between 1995 and 2017, apart from via apps and websites, was finding a partner in a bar or restaurant. The percentage of partners meeting one another this way climbed from 19% to 27%.
The author also broke down trends within online meeting, looking at changes between 2009 and 2017. In 2009, 81% of couples who met online did so as complete strangers. This is contrasted with “mediated” meetings (11.2% were introduced to one another online by a third party) and 7.8% “reconnected” meetings – couples who had known each other in the past, but spoke online at the start of their romantic relationship.
Over time, the proportion of these couples who first spoke as complete strangers online rose to 89%.
The author writes: “We find that Internet meeting is displacing the roles that family and friends once played in bringing couples together.”
One widely shared figure from the study, included below, shows a number of the trends in action.
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