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Michael Rosenfeld, a sociologist who runs a longitudinal study out of Stanford called “How Couples Meet and Stay Together,” questions this hypothesis; his research finds that couples who meet online tend to marry more quickly than other couples, a fact that hardly suggests indecision.
Maybe choice overload applies a little differently than Slater imagined.
As Emma, a 26-year-old virgin who sporadically tries her luck with online dating, glumly told me, “Dating apps make it easy for hot people—who already have the easiest time.” Christian Rudder, a co-founder of Ok Cupid (one of the less appearance-centric dating services, in that it encourages detailed written profiles), reported in 2009 that the male users who were rated most physically attractive by female users got 11 times as many messages as the lowest-rated men did; medium-rated men received about four times as many messages.
The disparity was starker for women: About two-thirds of messages went to the one-third of women who were rated most physically attractive.
Another woman wrote that she was “too lazy” to meet people, adding: “I usually download dating apps on a Tuesday when I’m bored, watching TV …
Some used the term paradox of choice; others referred to option paralysis (a term popularized by Black Mirror); still others invoked continues to attract users, in part because many people consider apps less stressful than the alternatives.
Lisa Wade suspects that graduates of high-school or college hookup culture may welcome the fact that online dating takes some of the ambiguity out of pairing up (We’ve each opted in; I’m at least a little bit interested in you).
I don’t try very hard.” Yet another woman said that she used an app, but only “after two glasses of white wine—then I promptly delete it after two hours of fruitless swiping.”Many critiques of online dating, including a 2013 article by Dan Slater in The Atlantic, adapted from his book A Million First Dates, have focused on the idea that too many options can lead to “choice overload,” which in turn leads to dissatisfaction.
Online daters, he argued, might be tempted to keep going back for experiences with new people; commitment and marriage might suffer.
BDSM plays at the local multiplex—but why bother going?