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Throughout human history, people have sought assistance from others in meeting romantic partners — and Americans today are increasingly looking for love online by enlisting the services of online dating sites and a new generation of mobile dating apps. A national survey by Pew Research Center, conducted June July 12, , among 2, adults, finds that:.
Online Dating Industry Report
This growth has been especially pronounced for two groups who have historically not used online dating at particularly high levels — the youngest adults, as well as those in their late 50s and early 60s. The share of to year-olds who report having used online dating has nearly tripled in the last two years. For young adults in particular, this overall increase in online dating usage has been accompanied by a dramatic increase in the use of mobile dating apps.
These young adults are now more likely than any other age group to use mobile dating apps.
As was the case in previous Pew Research Center surveys of online dating , college graduates and the relatively affluent are especially likely to know people who use online dating or to know people who have entered into a relationship that began online. Users of online dating are generally positive — but far from universally so — about the pros and cons of dating digitally. On one hand, a majority of online dating users agree that dating digitally has distinct advantages over other ways of meeting romantic partners:.
On the other hand, a substantial minority of these users agree that meeting people online can have potential negative consequences:. But despite these reservations, those who have personally used online dating themselves — or know someone who does — tend to have much more positive attitudes compared to those with little direct exposure to online dating or online daters. Overall, men and women who have used online dating tend to have similar views of the pros and cons — with one major exception relating to personal safety.
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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 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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Women are much more likely than men to have experienced uncomfortable contact via online dating sites or apps: Paid dating sites, and sites for people who are seeking partners with specific characteristics are popular with relatively large numbers of online daters:. Even today, the vast majority of Americans who are in a marriage, partnership, or other serious relationship say that they met their partner through offline—rather than online—means.
At the same time, the proportion of Americans who say that they met their current partner online has doubled in the last eight years. This question was asked of everyone in a marriage or other long-term partnership, including many whose relationships were initiated well before meeting online was an option.
15% of American adults use online dating sites or mobile apps
Younger adults are also more likely than older ones to say that their relationship began online. In addition, people who have used online dating are significantly more likely to say that their relationship began online than are those who have never used online dating. Compared with when we conducted our first study of dating and relationships in , many more Americans are using online tools to check up on people they used to date, and to flirt with potential or current love interests:. 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.
Today six out of every ten Americans use social networking sites SNS such as Facebook or Twitter, and these sites are often intertwined with the way they experience their past and present romantic relationships:. Younger adults are especially likely to live out their relationships through social networking sites.
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These sites are also being used as a source of background research on potential romantic partners. As more and more Americans use social networking sites, these spaces can become the site of potential tension or awkwardness around relationships and dating. 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. The results in this report are based on data from telephone interviews conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International from April 17 to May 19, , among a sample of 2, adults, age 18 and older. Telephone interviews were conducted in English and Spanish by landline 1, and cell phone 1,, including without a landline phone.
About Pew Research Center 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.