Is technology ruining your love life, or providing you with opportunities to connect with soulmates you may never otherwise meet? Now more than ever, people are meeting through online Dating apps, rather than through social networks of family and friends.

The revolution of dating apps comes on the heels of a wave of the sexual revolution and revelation of female sexuality. What do dating apps mean at an individual and societal level? Some worry that the dramatic rise in online matchmaking marks the decline of two-family households and changing cultural values.

In a new study published in the Journal of Sociology, researchers explore the benefits and perils of online dating.

Online Dating and You

Today’s culture is one of self-help books and self-actualization, a ‘risk aversion’ that establishes the self over all else. While some fear that virtual relationships may be usurping physical connections, dating apps also make new relationships possible. Online Dating can be uniquely valuable for the single and middle-aged, as well as anyone living in smaller towns or niche where making connections is more challenging and the pool of available singles is diminished.

So, what are your thoughts on marriage?

The study by lead author, Dr. Mitchell Hobbs, reported the Tinder was the most widely used dating app, followed by OKCupid.

More than half of those surveyed reported using the apps in order to find dates, with only 25% reported using them with the expectations of finding a sexual partner. So while marriage may not be on everyone’s mind, people do view online dating sites as a potential way to meet their future soul mate.

Speed Dating

Just like everything else, dating is subject to the unromantic reality of time constraints.

Several study participants admitted that dating apps, especially on their phones, were significantly more time-efficient than meeting someone in person. While they had little time to devote to meeting someone new, they were tired of feeling alone and ready for a relationship.

Ultimately, the study’s authors conclude that it’s unlikely dating apps are drastically changing the image of long-term relationships, monogamy, or cultural ideals.

Rather, online dating increases opportunities, independence, and afford individuals more control over their dating life than was available in previous generations.

That said, online dating is not for everyone. The authors acknowledge the precedence for self-branding and selling that many find unappealing and inauthentic. They conclude, “it brings new freedoms, opportunities and pleasures, as well as old and new anxieties about risk, self-image and love.”