Facts & Figures

  • Friend Zone
  • Aging in the Pews
  • A Growing Gender Divide Among Young Voters

Friend Zone: Dating apps have become an undeniable part of the romantic landscape, but more young people opting for a different strategy of finding a partner: Their friends. A new report, “From Swiping to Sexting: The Enduring Gender Divide in American Dating and Relationships” finds that young adults are much more likely than older Americans to say their partner or spouse was a friend first. This trend is even more common among young women. Half (50 percent) of young women who are in a relationship are dating someone with whom they were friends before they started dating.

Advantages to dating your friends include; relationships starting from a place of mutual care, shared personal history, and an ability to trust the person you are dating and for young women specifically, safety. Seems like being in the “friend-zone” might not be as permanent of a position as many young men might think.

Aging in the Pews: That churches and places of worship have struggled to attract and retain young worshipers is no secret. But new research finds that the most active congregants have gotten far older over the past two decades. In 1998, nearly six in ten (58 percent) Americans who attended religious services at least once week were under the age of 50. By 2021, regular worshipers were far older—only 43 percent were under the age of 50. The majority were at least 50 years old and one in three were retirement age (65 years old or older). The growing generational divide in America’s churches and places of worships presents all sorts of challenges to churches, not least their capacity to navigate to sensitive cultural questions, such as sexuality and sexual identity. It also risks putting these churches further out of step with the general public on issues, like same-sex marriage. 

A Growing Gender Divide Among Young Voters: Young voters were key to the Democratic Party’s surprising performance in the 2022 midterm elections. However, there was a pronounced gender gap young voters’ candidate preference. Nearly three quarters (72 percent) of young women voted for a Democrat compared to more than half (54 percent) of young men, an 18-point difference. After Dobbs, abortion became an extraordinarily salient issue during the 2022 campaign, especially for young women. Yet, it might not be entirely responsible for the widening divide. The gender gap in political preference grew considerably after Donald Trump’s election in 2016. As noted in a recent American Storylines newsletter, “Before Trump, Democratic candidates averaged around 60 percent of the vote among young women. That number rose to 70 percent in the years following his election.”

Commentary & Analysis

Gen Z’s Dating Revolution

Business Insider

Daniel A. Cox

The College Dating Divide

Institute for Family Studies

Daniel A. Cox

Faith After the Pandemic with Daniel Cox

Church & Main Podcast

Dennis Sanders

Church Attendance After COVID


Mary Reichard, Daniel A. Cox

American Interactives