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20 May

I quizzed the crowds at my stand-up comedy shows about their own love lives.

People even let me into the private world of their phones to read their romantic texts aloud onstage.

The first woman he clicked on was very beautiful, with a witty profile page, a good job and lots of shared interests, including a love of sports.

After looking the page over for a minute or so, Derek said, “Well, she looks O. I’m just gonna keep looking for a while.” I asked what was wrong, and he replied, “She likes the Red Sox.” I was completely shocked. Imagine the Derek of 20 years ago, finding out that this beautiful, charming woman was a real possibility for a date.

Even a guy at the highest end of attractiveness barely receives the number of messages almost all women get.

Answering messages, filtering profiles—it’s not always fun.

Throw in the fact that people now get married later in life than ever before, turning their early 20s into a relentless hunt for more romantic options than previous generations could have ever imagined, and you have a recipe for romance gone haywire.

In the course of our research, I also discovered something surprising: the winding road from the classified section of yore to Tinder has taken an unexpected turn.

If he walked into a bar, you’d probably go, “Oh, there’s a white guy.” At our focus group on online dating in Manhattan, Derek got on Ok Cupid and let us watch as he went through his options.

These were women whom Ok Cupid had selected as potential matches for him based on his profile and the site’s algorithm.