Today, There Are Only Three Ways To Meet A Partner

The key players in our search for love

Suspicions confirmed: online dating has totally transformed our search for love.

Gone are the days when you married your childhood sweetheart, shacked up with Tom who lives round the corner or let your family play cupid (the horror).

Today there are only really three ways you can expect to meet your partner and they all place no importance on traditional modes of matchmaking (which relied on fishing in a fairly limited pool stocked with people you knew through education and family – the prospect of which would strike most millennials as quaint, at best).

This graphic, illustrates data from a research project conducted over seven decades by sociologist Michael Rosenfeld. The study, How Couples Meet and Stay Together, is nationally representative of American adults (but it speaks to British experience too).

It demonstrates that in the 1940s it was commonplace to rely on your family to make romantic introductions – fast forward to 2009 (the most point at which data was collected) and the likelihood of this being your path to love has plummeted.

Similarly, co-workers, college peers, neighbours, primary/secondary school classmates and people known through church no longer play a key matchmaking role for heterosexual couples.

Nowadays there are only three ways you can reliably expect to meet your partner – through friends (historically this has always been a leading way of forming romantic connections), at a bar/restaurant (again, always relevant – booze being a winning social lubricant). And finally, via the internet.

Since the late 90s the likelihood of meeting a partner via online dating has spiked in an unprecedented fashion. ‘As a more efficient market, the Internet tends to displace other markets for partners,’ Rosenfeld explained.

The fact that the average of marriage has inflated in the last 50 odd years also plays a significant role in shifting the graph lines. According to the Office of National Statistics: in 2012 the average age of marriage for never-married men was 32.4 years, while for never married women it was 30.3 years. This compares with 24.9 years and 22.9 years respectively in 1972.

We’re all waiting a lot longer to get married and so it follows that we’ve probably left behind the safe womb-like bubble of the communities we grew up in. Instead we’re relying on friends, establishments that serve alcohol, and the very efficient internet dating market to direct us to our perfect love match.

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