Michael Rosenfeld and Reuben Thomas, Searching for a Mate: The Rise of the Internet as a Social Intermediary
In the past 15 years, the rise of the Internet has partly displaced not only family and school, but also neighborhood, friends and the workplace as venues for meeting partners. The Internet increasingly allows Americans to meet and form relationships with perfect strangers, i.e. people with whom they had no previous social tie. Individuals who face a thin market for potential partners, such as gays, lesbians, and middle aged heterosexuals, are especially likely to meet partners online. One result of the increasing importance of the Internet in meeting partners is that adults with Internet access at home are substantially more likely to have partners, even after controlling for other factors. Partnership rate has increased during the Internet era (consistent with Internet efficiency of search) for same sex couples, but the heterosexual partnership rate has been flat.