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My family story also serves as a brief history of romance. But they’re supplanting the role of matchmaker once held by friends and family.
For the past 10 years, the Stanford sociologist Michael Rosenfeld has been compiling data on how couples meet.
But to be free of those old crutches can be both exhilarating and exhausting.
As the influence of friends and family has melted away, the burden of finding a partner has been swallowed whole by the individual—at the very moment that expectations of our partners are skyrocketing.
In sociology-speak, our relationships were “mediated.” In human-speak, your wingman was your dad.
When in the 1840s the Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard called anxiety “the dizziness of freedom,” he wasn’t slamming the door on modernity so much as foreseeing its existential contradiction: All the forces of maximal freedom are also forces of anxiety, because anybody who feels obligated to select the ingredients of a perfect life from an infinite menu of options may feel lost in the infinitude. Our friends and moms were underserving us.”Historically, the “underserving” was most severe for single gay people.want partners, and online dating seems to be serving that need adequately. “In the past, even if mom was supportive of her gay kids, she probably didn’t know other gay people to introduce them to,” Rosenfeld said.The rapid adoption of online dating among the LGBTQ community speaks to a deeper truth about the internet: It’s most powerful (for better and for worse) as a tool for helping minorities of all stripes—political, social, cultural, sexual—find one another.A 2012 paper co-written by Rosenfeld found that the share of straight couples who met online rose from about zero percent in the mid-1990s to about 20 percent in 2009.For gay couples, the figure soared to nearly 70 percent.
Once upon a time, wealthy families considered matrimonies akin to mergers; they were coldhearted business opportunities to expand a family’s financial power.