It wasn't that long ago that no one would have considered entering into a relationship with someone who they met online. Most romantic partnerships instead began through individual personal networks, including friends of friends, people at schools, churches or social events. But the online dating movement, began in the mid-90s, has increased steadily and is now a reliable source of long-term relationships. In many cases, it has replaced the usual way of finding a romantic partner.
This change has led to some surprising turns in marriage, including an increase in interracial marriages and more marriage stability.
The popularity of online dating sites
In 2017, online matching sites were the second-leading cause of new relationships for heterosexual couples, and by far the leading cause of same-sex and LGBT relationships. Online dating has led to an expansion of people's social networks. No longer are nearby social networks the primary driver of new relationships. Now, algorithms can match people according to likes and preferences and result in people who have no other contact with each other to meet.
Is online dating increasing interracial marriages?
A recent article in MIT Technology Review noted that online dating sites may be responsible for an increase in interracial marriages. It cited research from Josue Ortega at the University of Essex and Philipp Hergovich at the University of Vienna, who modeled population groups exposed to a wider global network than is traditional and mapped the prevalence of interracial marriage. The model successfully predicted an increase in interracial marriages, similar to what is happening throughout the world after online dating sites became popular. In the U.S., for example, interracial marriages jumped in the 90s, mid 2000s and recently in 2014 -- the same year Tinder became popular.
To be clear, there is currently only a correlation between online dating and interracial marriage. There may be many reasons for an increase in interracial couples. However, the data is consistent with the theory of the researchers.
A brave new romantic world
The full influence of online dating on marriage is yet to be fully understood. However, data seems to show that online dating can both increase interracial marriage and also lead to longer-lasting marriages.
As online dating continues to be a popular option for singles, more of its influence on marriage and social relationships will be discovered.