Dating online in 2021 is a dizzying virtual buffet of ways to connect with someone. You can give your match a bouquet of digital roses that cost $29.99 to show them you really do care and didn’t just casually swipe on them while sitting on the toilet like you did with hundreds of others. You can immediately video chat your date to pre-screen them to confirm they’re not creepy. You can change the location on your app to find a lover in a different country and see what happens. You are also probably switching between three different apps to keep optimizing for your best chance of meeting someone special.
The user has all these options because over the last quarter-century, online dating went from a stigmatized activity discussed in hushed, embarrassed tones to the most common way couples meet in the US. It has completely, unequivocally revolutionized how we fall in love—and turned into a multi-billion dollar global industry in the process.
For many, online dating is unavoidable. “I never dated until it was online—that’s how I was introduced to dating. And so, if I’m single I’m always going to be involved in it,” said Kevin, who is 30 and lives in Brooklyn, and has been dating online for a decade.