While it may seem obvious to LGBTQ people, a new report published by American researchers has confirmed with a longitudinal study that when it comes to meeting partners, most LGBTQ people engage in online dating and the use of apps.
The report, issued by researchers at Stanford University and the University of New Mexico, was mostly focused on heterosexual people, but that’s because it didn’t uncover much change in how LGBTQ people are meeting their partners.
Back in 2009, a survey was given to American adults with both different-sex and same-sex partners, and they were asked how they met. The survey indicated that same-sex couples were “early adopters of internet services for meeting partners.” And a large percentage of those LGBTQ couples met their partners via online dating apps and sites.
A more recent 2017 survey tells us that’s still the case.
About 65% of same-sex couples in 2017 met their partners online — not much of a change from 2009 — compared to less than 40% of straight couples. (Though online dating is now officially the most popular way for straight couples to meet.)
Despite the study focusing primarily on straight people, we can infer that some of its findings about online dating are true across the board. For instance, the study refers to the fact that online dating apps allow for time and distance when asking and answering questions of a potential partner. Because there’s no face-to-face interaction, you’re able to really think about what you want to ask and how you want to answer questions.
Online dating apps also allow people to find communities of interest that may not be found in their metaphorical backyard, which circumvents the restrictions of, say, meeting potential partners through friends or family.
Then there’s the fact that online dating apps present users with a large set of people to peruse. As the study says, “Larger choice sets are especially valuable for people who are searching for something unusual or hard-to-find, which is why online dating is even more valuable for gays and lesbians than it is for heterosexuals.”
Also, online dating and the use of apps — as opposed to strictly meeting potential partners through friends or family — allows a person to be discreet. Maybe you don’t want your friends to know exactly what you’re looking for in a partner. With gay apps, you’re able to sift through people, most often read about those people’s interests and personality, and see who meets your individual wants.
It’s obvious that LGBTQ people have for many years now championed the idea of online dating, but straight people are catching on, realizing that, yeah, us queer folk were officially on to something.
The most traditional way for straight people to meet used to be through family and friends, at church or in school. But all of those are on the decline, according to this report, and online dating apps are taking over.
In the future, what will be the role of online dating for LGBTQ people? It seems that more and more often, queer people will rely on apps and their algorithms to help them find a partner. And while no one can discount the helpfulness (and importance) of friends — and sometimes family — in the search for true love, sometimes an algorithm just can’t be beat.