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For folks who are meeting people everyday—really younger people in their early twenties—online dating is relevant, but it really becomes a powerful force for people in thin dating markets.

In a 2012 paper, I wrote about how among heterosexuals, the people who are most likely to use online dating are the middle-aged folks, because they’re the ones in the thinnest dating market.

It’s harder to feel alone when you’re 23, because everyone is a potential partner.

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But the fear that online dating is changing us, collectively, that it's creating unhealthy habits and preferences that aren't in our best interests, is being driven more by paranoia than it is by actual facts.

"There are a lot of theories out there about how online dating is bad for us," Michael Rosenfeld, a sociologist at Stanford who has been conducting a long-running study of online dating, told me the other day.

A couple of months ago, I was sitting at a bar minding my own business when the woman next to me did something strange.

Surrounded by potential partners, she pulled out her phone, hid it coyly beneath the counter, and opened the online dating app Tinder.

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?

That's something not everyone thinks this is a good thing. The worry about online dating comes from theories about how too much choice might be bad for you.

The idea is that if you’re faced with too many options you will find it harder to pick one, that too much choice is demotivating.

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.

(For gay couples, it's more like two out of every three).

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