Dating, in particular, has evolved immensely from the typical friend and family recommendations to the now-popular dating sites. The online dating space has exploded so much that about 39% of couples in 2017 said they met online, compared to 22% in 2009. With the continuous advancement of technology, the possibilities of online dating continue to grow.
Shortly after the modern newspaper was invented in 1690, British newspapers started publishing personal advertisements to help British bachelors find wives. One of the first known ads was one of a 30-year-old man with a good estate who was willing to match himself to a young lady with a fortune of about £3,000.
Later on, ads became a way for the gay community to meet discreetly since homosexuality at the time was punishable by law. Advertisements, however, were mostly posted by high-society men. When the first woman posted an ad in 1727 to look for someone to spend her life with, she received much backlash and rejection.
Although the act of publicly advertising the need to find a partner was seen to be nontypical in the early 1800s, it slowly crept into the mainstream when newspapers like The Marriage Gazette became massive hits in the newsstands.
In 1870, San Francisco created the first newspaper for singles, known as The Matrimonial News. Women were allowed to post ads for free, while men paid 25 cents to do so. As ads were more accepted in the early 1900s, they became a way for lonely World War I soldier to find women or pen pals.
Data in Dating
As technology started to pick up in the early 20th century, data became more widely used in the matchmaking process. A Stanford project in 1959 was one of the earliest uses of the standard matching algorithms today. The project made use of an IBM 650 that determined similarities among 98 participants using a 30-question profile. A few years later, in 1965, Harvard students created Operation Match, which was used by more than a million daters. Users would pay $3 to answer a questionnaire and receive a list of potential matches in return.
Decades after the success of Operation Match, Kiss.com was launched in 1994 with more modern features on online dating. A year later, Gary Kremen created the famous Match.com, which continues to be one of the most popular dating sites used today. By 1996, there were already 16 dating sites listed in Yahoo.
Throughout the years, popular culture became a driving force to increase the popularity of dating sites. For instance, the 1998 movie “You’ve Got Mail,” featuring Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan, who fell in love over the internet, shed a positive light on the idea of two people meeting and getting together online. In 1982, the song “Computer Love” also made it to the #1 spot on the UK singles chart.
40 years after the creation of Operation Match, Harvard students launched what is now known as OKCupid. The site lets users list prompts and questions to test how likely it is for them to get along with potential matches.
By the 21st century, dating sites had grown so much that it thrived even with the introduction of social networking sites like Facebook in 2004. As dating sites became the norm, however, there grew a need to spread awareness on the possible risks of entering the online space. As a result, the documentary Catfish was released in 2010 to give online daters and other viewers an idea of the dangers of being catfished.
Online Dating Today
The stigmas associated with online dating have gradually decreased, with more and more people becoming accepting of dating sites recently. Several dating sites have also entered the online space with more advanced features, while existing dating sites continue to improve on features like security. By 2009, 61% of same-sex couples had found their partners online, and today, over 40 million Americans have tried online dating.
Some people avoid the whole stress and drama of the dating scene and prefer to view reputable reputable escort directory sites and select a paid companion for the night out instead.