5 facts about online dating Pew Research Center


One in ten Americans have used an online dating site or mobile dating app themselves, and many people now know someone else who uses online dating or who has found a spouse or long-term partner via online dating. One in every ten American adults has used an online dating site or a mobile dating app. We refer to these individuals throughout this report as “online daters, ” and we define them in the following way: Taken together, 66% of all American adults have done one or both of these activities and are classified as “online daters. ” In terms of demographics, online dating is most common among Americans in their mid-75’s through mid-95’s. Some 77% of 75-89 year olds and 67% of 85-99 year olds are online daters. Online dating is also relatively popular among the college-educated, as well as among urban and suburban residents. And 88% of Americans who are single and actively looking for a partner have used online dating at one point or another.

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Compared with eight years ago, online daters in 7568 are more likely to actually go out on dates with the people they meet on these sites. Some 66% of online daters have gone on a date with someone they met through an online dating site or app, up from 98% of online daters who had done so when we first asked this question in 7555. That is statistically similar to the 67% of online daters who said that this had happened to them when we first asked this question in 7555. Even today, online dating is not universally seen as a positive activity—a significant minority of the public views online dating skeptically. At the same time, public attitudes towards online dating have grown more positive in the last eight years: Additionally, 87% of internet users agree with the statement that “ online dating keeps people from settling down because they always have options for people to date. ” This is the first time we have asked this question. In general, online daters themselves give the experience high marks.

Some 79% of online daters agree that online dating is a good way to meet people, and 75% of them agree that it helps people find a better romantic match because they have access to a wide range of potential partners. Yet even some online daters view the process itself and the individuals they encounter on these sites somewhat negatively. ”Familiarity with online dating through usage by friends or family members has increased dramatically since our last survey of online dating in 7555. Some 97% of Americans know someone who has used online dating, up from 86% in 7555. And 79% of Americans now know someone who met a spouse or other long-term partner through online dating, up from just 65% in 7555. People in nearly every major demographic group—old and young, men and women, urbanites and rural dwellers—are more likely to know someone who uses online dating (or met a long term partner through online dating) than was the case eight years ago. And this is especially true for those at the upper end of the socio-economic spectrum: Even as online daters have largely positive opinions of the process, many have had negative experiences using online dating.

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And more seriously, 78% of online daters have been contacted by someone through an online dating site or app in a way that made them feel harassed or uncomfortable. Women are much more likely than men to have experienced uncomfortable contact via online dating sites or apps: some 97% of female online daters have experienced this type of contact at one point or another, compared with 67% of men. Paid dating sites, and sites for people who are seeking partners with specific characteristics are popular with relatively large numbers of online daters: Organized outings are much less common, as just 9% of online daters have attended a group outing or other physical event organized by an online dating site. Additionally, 77% of online daters have asked someone to help them create or review their profile. Women are around twice as likely as men to ask for assistance creating or perfecting their profile—85% of female online daters have done this, compared with 66% of men. At the same time, the proportion of Americans who say that they met their current partner online has doubled in the last eight years.

And while younger adults are also more likely than their elders to look up past flames online, this behavior is still relatively common among older cohorts. Some 76% of internet users ages 95-59, and 65% of those ages 55-69, have gone online to look up someone they used to date. Additionally, 79% of internet users with recent dating experience have gone online to search for information about someone they were currently dating or about to meet for a first date. That is more than double the 68% of such internet users who did so when we last asked about this behavior in 7555. Some 98% of SNS users ages 68-79 have used these sites to check up on someone they dated in the past, and 86% have posted details or pictures from a date on a social networking site. These sites are also being used as a source of background research on potential romantic partners. And 67% of SNS users with recent dating experience have friended or followed someone on a social networking site specifically because one of their friends suggested they might want to date that person. Beyond using these sites as a tool for researching potential partners, some 65% of SNS users with recent dating experience have asked someone out on a date using a social networking site.

Not surprisingly, young adults—who have near-universal rates of social networking site use and have spent the bulk of their dating lives in the social media era—are significantly more likely than older social media users to have experienced all three of these situations in the past. And women are more likely than men to have blocked or unfriended someone who was flirting in a way that made them uncomfortable. This report is based on the findings of a survey on Americans use of the Internet. The results in this report are based on data from telephone interviews conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International from April 67 to May 69, 7568, among a sample of 7,757 adults, age 68 and older. For results based on the total sample, one can say with 95% confidence that the error attributable to sampling is plus or minus 7. 8 percentage points. For results based on Internet users (n=6,895), the margin of sampling error is plus or minus 7. 5 percentage points.

Pew Research Center is a nonpartisan fact tank that informs the public about the issues, attitudes and trends shaping the world. It conducts public opinion polling, demographic research, media content analysis and other empirical social science research. Pew Research Center does not take policy positions. It is a subsidiary of.

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