Online Dating: Is It The Evolution of Courtship?

British Broadcasting Channel (BBC) explained the evolution of love and how it has changed over the years. Online dating sites are growing in popularity. Since the 90s, more people are meeting online and traditional methods are declining.

Traditionally, people met through friends, religious affiliations, or proximity, including living in the same neighborhood or general area. However, more and more people are turning online to meet. The online dating markets give people more potential matches and are not defined by location or happenstance.

Sociologist Michael Rosenfeld reported more than 20 percent of straight couples reported meeting their partners online in 2009, which is the most recent year online dating data is unavailable.

Rosenfeld notes that the online dating route could be a result of religion losing its religious backbone. A recent survey by the Pew Research Group showed that those born in the 1930s and 1940s attended church at least once a week, whereas about a quarter of those born in the 1980s and 1990s visit religious institutes that often. With online dating, church has become irrelevant in matchmaking.

With 81 percent of the United States population living in cities, more people are living in smaller geographical areas, which inflates the roles of bars and restaurants in courtship. These establishments show a slightly higher percentage of chance encounters than online.

In recent years, the decline of the family structure has severally impacted societal matchmaking. In the 1930s and 1940s, nearly 30 percent of people met through family members. That number has dropped to below 10 percent in 2009.

Rosenfeld wrote that “connecting young people with potential opposite-sex, same-race, and same-religion partners has always been one of the core functions of the family.”

With online dating, people rely less on family and friends to play cupid in their love life. With woman going to college and entering the workforce, work and school became fertile meeting grounds.

Now that life is not confined to mini communities of relationships, dating is more broad and unrestricted geographically.

“As a more efficient market, the Internet tends to displace other markets for partners,” Rosenfeld explained.

Nearly 40 million Americans utilize online dating sites. California Attorney General Kamala D. Harris partnered with three major dating sites — EHarmony, Match.com, and Spark Networks — to create company guidelines that would make online dating safe for its users.

With life’s busyness increasing, people traveling more, and the rise of single parents, online dating creates the possibility of finding love outside traditional methods. In a study commissioned by EHarmony, 19,131 American adults who married between 2005 and 2012 were sampled. Over one-third began with an online meeting.

There is a misconception that these relationships are doomed to fail, but the survey showed that couples who met online were less likely to divorce than those who met through traditional methods. Only 5.96 percent of relationships that began online ended in divorce or separation. Of those who remained married, they reported higher levels of satisfaction than those who met offline.

Martin Graff Ph.D., the head of research in psychology at the University of South Wales, says online dating presents an individual with an abundance of choice and may seem appealing, but the sheer number of people presented can be problematic.

Graff goes on to state that those who consider online dating should maximize their potential of a successful match by searching for someone with whom you can have a sustained and meaningful relationship.

Online dating, like other methods, still requires time and effort to develop. Online dating has made courtship easy and convenient. It improves the odds of finding a long, satisfying love. It seems to be gaining traction in replacing traditional methods of finding love.

[Photo by Tsering Topgyal/AP Images]

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