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He’d never imagined that so many single people were out there.“I’m about 95 percent certain,” he says, “that if I’d met Rachel offline, and if I’d never done online dating, I would’ve married her.After two years, when Rachel informed Jacob that she was moving out, he logged on to the same day. Messages had even come in from people who couldn’t tell he was no longer active.The site had improved in the two years he’d been away. And the population of online daters in Portland seemed to have tripled.She placed a high value on things he didn’t think much about: a solid credit score, a 40-hour workweek.Jacob also felt pressure from his parents, who were getting anxious to see him paired off for good.

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Around this time, he signed up for two online dating sites: Match.com, a paid site, because he’d seen the TV ads; and Plenty of Fish, a free site he’d heard about around town. At first I just thought it was some kind of weird lucky streak.” After six weeks, Jacob met a 22-year-old named Rachel, whose youth and good looks he says reinvigorated him. (Both names have been changed for anonymity.) Rachel didn’t mind Jacob’s sports addiction, and enjoyed going to concerts with him. She was from a blue-collar military background; he came from doctors.At that point in my life, I would’ve overlooked everything else and done whatever it took to make things work.Did online dating change my perception of permanence? When I sensed the breakup coming, I was okay with it.“That’s just how it is.” Another online-dating exec hypothesized an inverse correlation between commitment and the efficiency of technology. But that thinking was based on a world in which you didn’t meet that many people.” “Societal values always lose out,” says Noel Biderman, the founder of Ashley Madison, which calls itself “the world’s leading married dating service for discreet encounters”—that is, cheating.“I think divorce rates will increase as life in general becomes more real-time,” says Niccolò Formai, the head of social-media marketing at Badoo, a meeting-and-dating app with about 25 million active users worldwide. It’s exhilarating to connect with new people, not to mention beneficial for reasons having nothing to do with romance. “Premarital sex used to be taboo,” explains Biderman.

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