By Aaron Smith and Maeve Duggan 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.
General public attitudes towards online dating have become much more positive in recent years, and social networking sites are now playing a prominent role when it comes to navigating and documenting romantic relationships. Online dating is also relatively popular among the college-educated, as well as among urban and suburban residents.
Attitudes towards online dating are becoming more positive over time 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: In general, online daters themselves give the experience high marks.
Yet even some online daters view the process itself and the individuals they encounter on these sites somewhat negatively. 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: Negative experiences on online dating sites are relatively common Even as online daters have largely positive opinions of the process, many have had negative experiences using online dating.
Women are much more likely than men to have experienced uncomfortable contact via online dating sites or apps: One in five online daters have asked someone to help them review their profile. 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.
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. Using the internet to flirt, research potential partners, and check up on old flames have all become much more common in recent years 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.
Social networking sites offer a new online venue for navigating the world of dating and relationships 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. These sites are also being used as a source of background research on potential romantic partners.
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.