Professional opinion on online dating

It’s an all-too-common trope: Online dating has made casual sex easy but relationships hard.

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One sociologist found that college-age students are having no more sex today than they were in 1988.

In fact, online dating has made it easier for those seeking long-term commitments to find each other.

Experts say that one-third of recent marriages in the United States started online.

Once upon a time, online daters were mocked as lonely losers, or worse. Today, at least 40 million Americans are looking for love on the Web. Like sex, love and attraction, online dating is an object of fascination and confusion.

Some commentators credit it with helping singles feel more secure and confident, while others blame it for “ruining romance,” “killing commitment” and contributing to the rise of the hook-up culture. While women generally prefer men around their own age, men are most attracted to 20-year-olds, period.

As the head of Ok Cupid, I worked diligently to untangle many of the misconceptions about finding love on the Internet. That’s why the Daily Mail calls straight women over 45 the “plankton generation” — at the bottom of the romantic food chain.

Time magazine editors found the notion of men dating women in their 30s so baffling that they invited 15 experts to explain the phenomenon.

But as I learned at Ok Cupid, men don’t necessarily end up dating young women, even if they think they’re gorgeous.

Men on the site tend to message women closer to their own age; very few men over 30 actually reach out to 20-year-old women.

And while it’s true that being older and single means you face a “thin” romantic market, both on the Web and off, the sheer scale of online dating mitigates this.

After all, the best way to beat long odds is to take lots of chances, and even for older users, dating sites provide millions of romantic options.

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