Can online dating reduce racial divisions in romance?

Photo by Shanique Wright

When my education in diversity and inclusion was kicked into high gear, the first thing I had to deal with was the systemic biases that were unintentionally excluding people from the organization I was running. We were choosing people to join our work based on our personal and professional networks, which means (thanks to overall biases in our society that push social racial segregation) we were choosing people who were similar to us. It was textbook systemic bias in action.

Here's something I never really thought about until now: the traditional dating model, where you meet people through your existing networks and then go out with them, is another clear-cut example of systemic bias for the books.

New research is looking into the idea that online dating is breaking down those broader racial barriers and increasing interracial relationships.

Of course, it's a totally correlational study, and a lot of holes can be poked in any implied causal relationship, but it also matches my personal experience pretty well.

My favourite thing about online dating, when I was doing it, was that I was meeting people who I would never have encountered otherwise. Even my current partner, who I met on Tinder, is someone who I can't imagine having crossed paths with in real life.

The breadth of people I got to meet through online dating was pretty broad, including going on dates with guys from all over the world.

Now, there is other evidence that suggests that people tend to choose same-race partners in online dating just like in real life, but there are people out there who genuinely don't care about that. How cool is it that technology might help break down the overall segregation in our society and give them the chance to meet each other?


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