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In a terrific 2003 New York Times article by Amy Harmon, a fourth-grade teacher, retold the statistics of her four-months of online dating: messages exchanged with 120 men, phone calls with 20, in-person meetings with 11—and 0 relationships.

That's not efficient at producing relationships—but it is efficient at producing anxiety.

My favorite sentence from that article: On the other hand, back in the days of dating, women entering college in the 1950s reported an average of about 12 dates per month (three per week) with five different men.

These women were grossly outnumbered in college, and most women didn't go to college, so it wasn't a system for the whole society.

It can be a form of courtship that consists of social activities done by the couple.

Even in Super Sad True Love Story—the Gary Shteyngart novel where everyone wears an "äppärät," a device around their necks that broadcasts to everyone around them their credit history, income, cholesterol, and how attractive they are compared with everyone else in the vicinity—even in that world people fall in love. Executives in the middle of a growing business can be forgiven for overstating trends—as can individuals used as anecdotal launching pads for trend pieces—but readers should take it a little slower.

So rather than go right to "online dating is threatening monogamy," as Dan Slater argues in his article in magazine, maybe we could agree with the less alarmist conclusion that people who engage in rapid serial online dating are probably less likely to make commitments because they won't settle down.

The protocols and practices of dating, and the terms used to describe it, vary considerably from country to country and over time.

While the term has several meanings, the most frequent usage refers to two people exploring whether they are romantically or sexually compatible by participating in dates with the other.

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