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How Couples Meet and Stay Together 2017 (HCMST2017)

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  • This new survey, How Couples Meet and Stay Together 2017 (HCMST 2017), features a fresh set of 3,510 survey respondents, with no overlap in subjects from the original HCMST survey which was first fielded in 2009.
  • HCMST 2017 features new questions about subjects' use of phone apps like Tinder and Grindr for dating and meeting partners.

Principal Investigator: 

Michael J. Rosenfeld
Reuben J. Thomas
Sonia Hausen

Funding Agency: 

United Parcel Service Endowment at Stanford University
US National Science Foundation

How to Cite this Dataset: 

Rosenfeld, Michael J., Reuben J. Thomas, and Sonia Hausen. 2019 How Couples Meet and Stay Together 2017 fresh sample. [Computer files]. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Libraries.

Contact Email: 


  • Text answers and geographic variables below region level are withheld from the public data, but will eventually be available in edited form as restricted data.
  • The public data include codes of the open-text answers for how couples meet. How-met stories were coded by Sonia Hausen and Michael Rosenfeld, according to the rubric developed from the original How Couples Meet and Stay Together survey.
  • Unlike the original HCMST survey, HCMST 2017 asked a full battery of questions to subjects with current partners (N=2862) and also to subjects with no current partner, but who had a past partner (N=541). See the variable "partnership_status."
  • Because there were two branches to HCMST 2017 (for people with current partners and for people with past partners), variables that were consistent across branches were combined into new variables created by the Stanford research team. The new variables are found at the end of the dataset.
  • Surveys were performed by online survey company GfK.
  • The data are nationally representative, as GfK recruits subjects into the panel by phone and by Address Based Sampling, and subjects without Internet access at home are given Internet access.
  • Self-identified Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual respondents were oversampled.
  • The question numbering in HCMST 2017 replicates, where possible, the question numbering for HCMST 2009 for the same questions. This means that some numbers appear to be skipped in the HCMST 2017 survey instrument, but nothing is missing; it simply means that those missing number questions (e.g., Q30, Q31, Q33) were asked in HCMST 2009 but not repeated in HCMST 2017.


Funding for HCMST 2017 comes from Stanford's United Parcel Service Endowment, and this funding is gratefully acknowledged. HCMST 2017 surveyed a new cohort of subjects, building on the prior work around HCMST 2009. HCMST 2009 was generously supported by the National Science Foundation, grants SES-0751977 and SES-1153867.



English literate adults in the United States

Unit of Analysis: 

Individual and Couple

Type of data collection: 

Survey Data

Time of data collection: 

July 13, 2017-August 1, 2017

Geographic coverage: 

United States

Smallest geographic unit: 

Census Region is the smallest geographic unit in the public data

Sample response rate: 

What GfK refers to as the Screener Completion Rate was 4033/6753=60%. Response rate of consented and completed surveys from the GfK panel was 3510/6753=52%. To account for the response rates of prior inclusion into GfK's Knowledge Panel, see Callegaro, Mario, and Charles DiSogra. 2008. "Computing Response Metrics for Online Panels." Public Opinion Quarterly 72 (5):1008-1032.


  • variable "weight_combo" combines the weights for the general population respondents and the LGB oversample, with mean=1
  • "weight_combo_freqwt" weights the subjects up to the CPS marginals, mean=69,410 (meaning the survey is approximately a 1-in-69,000 survey of American adults).



Data Use Agreement

  1. The data I download from the Data Archive will not be used to identify individuals.
  2. I will not charge a fee for the data if I distribute it to others.
  3. I will inform the contact person for each dataset about work I do using their dataset. 
    (This helps us keep an accurate bibliography. See each data page for its contact email.)
  4. I will cite the data appropriately.
    (See each data page for its bibliographic citation.)

Data Download Links



Two early papers from HCMST 2017:

  • M Rosenfeld 2018. "How Tinder and the Dating Apps are and are Not Changing Dating and Mating in the U.S., published book chapter found here.
  • M Rosenfeld, RJ Thomas, and Sonia Hausen, 2019. "Disintermediating your Friends," forthcoming in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, pre-publication version here.
  • Thomas, Reuben J. 2019. "Online Exogamy Reconsidered: Estimated the Internet's Effect on Racial, Educational, Religious, Political, and Age Assortative Mating." Forthcoming in Social Forces, find the advance access version here.

News Coverage: 

  • See the cool data visualization by Nathan Yau of Flowingdata on the changing time line of relationship committment and marriage here, and on the changing way couples meet here.

    HCMST data and findings have been covered a lot in the press, see more links at Rosenfeld's press coverage page here.