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It makes it easier for someone who is looking for something very specific in a partner to find what they are looking for.

It also helps the people who use the apps by allowing them to enjoy a pattern of regular hookups that don’t have to lead to relationships.

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.

Part of what you have uncovered during your research is how drastic the rise of online dating has been.It’s harder to feel alone when you’re 23, because everyone is a potential partner.But when you get to 40, most people your age are already settled down.We see this in consumer goods — if there are too many flavors of jam at the store, for instance, you might feel that it’s just too complicated to consider the jam aisle, you might end up skipping it all together, you might decide it's not worth settling down with one jam. I don’t think that that theory, even if it’s true for something like jam, applies to dating.I actually don’t see in my data any negative repercussions for people who meet partners online.

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