Once upon a time, we went steady, carried little black books, got busy necking in the backseats of cars, nervously dialed the number of our crush’s home phone—hoping their roommate wouldn’t pick up.
Today, we text, swipe right (or, yikes, swipe left), FaceTime, and when things are going good, tell friends we’re “talking” or “hanging out.”
For more than 25 years, the modern landscape of dating has been shaped by the intervention of online dating. Match.com hit the internet in 1995, followed swiftly by JDate, eHarmony, Christian Mingle and even more niche dating sites. Once taboo or potentially even embarrassing, now online dating has become the norm.
“It’s interesting because earlier on, some of the clients that I met, they would lie to their parents and to their family members about how they met,” says Sten Garcia, who used to shoot wedding videos. “And over the years, I’ve had couples that are open about it, and as a matter of fact, they talk about it during the wedding speech and the reception.”
According to a study at Stanford University, in 2017, a full 39 percent of heterosexual couples met online. That was up from 22 percent in 2009. Today, some of the most popular free dating apps are Hinge and Bumble, with paid services like Match.com still drawing singles looking to meet a partner.
In a 2020 poll by Pew Research, one in three Americans say they’ve used a dating app. However, among 18- to 29-year-olds, the number goes up to 48 percent. LGBTQ people are also more likely to use a dating app; according to the study, 55 percent of LGBTQ respondents had used a dating app. And with the pandemic forcing us to interact with one another with social distancing, online dating has almost become the only way to date. Almost a year after the lockdown started: What is the state of modern dating?