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Yet even some online daters view the process itself and the individuals they encounter on these sites somewhat negatively.
Around one in ten online daters (13%) agree with the statement that “people who use online dating sites are desperate,” and 29% agree that online dating “keeps people from settling down because they always have options for people to date.” Familiarity with online dating through usage by friends or family members has increased dramatically since our last survey of online dating in 2005.
We refer to these individuals throughout this report as “online daters,” and we define them in the following way: Taken together, 11% 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-20’s through mid-40’s.
Some 22% of 25-34 year olds and 17% of 35-44 year olds are online daters.
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, 32% 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.
Some 6% of internet users who are in a marriage, partnership, or other committed relationship met their partner online—that is up from 3% of internet users who said this in 2005.
On an “all-adults” basis, that means that 5% of all committed relationships in America today began online.
That is statistically similar to the 17% of online daters who said that this had happened to them when we first asked this question in 2005.
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.
Fully 34% of Americans who are in a committed relationship and have used online dating sites or dating apps in the past say that they met their spouse or partner online, compared with 3% for those who have not used online dating sites.
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.
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.