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People used to marry in their early 20s, which meant that most dating that was done, or most courting that was done, was done with the intention of settling down right away.
And that’s not the life that young people lead anymore.
The age of first marriage is now in the late twenties, and more people in their 30s and even 40s are deciding not to settle down.
The rise of phone apps and online dating websites gives people access to more potential partners than they could meet at work or in the neighborhood.
"And mostly they're pretty unfounded." Rosenfeld, who has been keeping tabs on the dating lives of more than 3,000 people, has gleaned many insights about the growing role of apps like Tinder.
They are important today — roughly one of every four straight couples now meet on the Internet.
It makes it easier for someone who is looking for something very specific in a partner to find what they are looking for.
I spoke with Rosenfeld to hear more about his research, to learn about the ways in which the rise of online dating is defining modern love, and to talk about the biggest misconceptions people have about online dating.
The interview has been edited for length and clarity.
You have one of the most unique data sets about modern romance. Well, one of the first things you have to know to understand how dating — or really courtship rituals, since not everyone calls it dating — has changed over time is that the age of marriage in the United States has increased dramatically over time.
Instead of interacting with the people around her, she chose to search for a companion elsewhere online.
I wondered to myself, is this what online dating has done to us?
On her screen, images of men appeared and then disappeared to the left and right, depending on the direction in which she wiped.