Singles and the Internet
The more than 1,000 Internet sites in the United States designed for singles to connect with one another have greatly altered the "singles scene." Each month, over 40% of single adults in the United States visit dating sites (Howes, 2011). The largest demographic group using these sites consists of higher-income, college-educated individuals, but the fastest-growing segment of Internet dating traffic is the 50-and-older population (Juarez, 2006; Straus, 2006). Match. com was the first large singles dating site, started in 1995. By 2012 it had expanded its dating sites to 25 countries (Match. com, 2012). Neil Warren, founder of the site eHarmony, claims to be responsible for 5% of marriages in the United States (Howes, 2011). On the other end of the continuum, seeking sexual partners with "no strings attached" is ubiquitous on the Internet (Sevcikova & Daneback, 2011).
Although being single has become more acceptable in our society, most people still choose to live with a partner or marry, and we examine these options next.
Research shows that marriage involves a higher degree of commitment and stability than does cohabitation: Seventy-eight percent of marriages last 5 years or more, compared with less than 30% of cohabiting relationships (Goodwin et al., 2010), which may be one reason that marriage continues to enjoy widespread appeal. About 96% of adults in the United States have married at some point, and many marry more than once (U. S. Census Bureau, 2006). However, in 2010, for the first time in the United States, married couples represented a minority of all American households. The percentage of married couples has declined over time, from 78% in 1950 to 48% in 2010 (Tavernise, 2011a). A closer look at the institution of marriage might provide some insights into both its continuing allure and decreasing prevalence.