Study: Americans increasingly turn to online dating sights like Match.com and EHarmony

a a a a
Share this story

NEW YORK -- Online dating is shedding its stigma as a refuge for the desperate, but people who use sites such as Match.com and eHarmony are still in the minority.

Thirty-eight percent of Americans who are "single and looking" say they've used an online dating site or mobile dating app, according to a new study.

The report due out Monday from the Pew Research Center's Internet and American Life Project suggests that attitudes toward online dating "have progressed in a clearly positive direction." In fact, 59 percent of Internet users agree that online dating is a good way to meet people. That's up from 44 percent in 2005.

As Americans shop, socialize and entertain themselves online, a growing number are turning to the Internet to find dates. Some 11 percent of people who started a long-term relationship in the past decade say they met their partner online. Even so, only 10 percent of Americans say they've tried online dating.

Online dating is most popular among men and women ages 25 to 34. Nearly a quarter of them have used online dating sites, compared with just 10 percent of people in the 18 to 24 age group. For ages 35 to 44, it's 17 percent and then the numbers fall to the single digits. Three percent of those over 65 have dabbled in online dating.

Whites are slightly more likely to use dating sites than other ethnicities -- 11 percent compared with 7 percent for blacks and 5 percent of Hispanics, according to the survey. People without a high school diploma were the least likely to use the Internet to find a date, while those who have completed "some college" were the most likely.

While a relatively small fraction of people use online dating sites, forty-two percent of Americans say they know someone who has, up from 31 in 2005. Among those 65 or older, the number grew to 24 percent from 13 percent.

Once upon a time, couples who found each other online felt compelled to spin alternate "how we met" tales, but that's no longer the case. Perhaps it's the result of changing attitudes. In 2005, 29 percent of Internet users agreed that people on online dating sites were "desperate." In Pew's most recent study, that number fell to 21 percent.

But online dating isn't all chocolate hearts and red roses. More than half of online daters say they believe someone else "seriously misrepresented themselves" in an online dating profile. More than a quarter have felt uncomfortable or harassed by someone who contacted them.

The results of Pew's recent study aren't directly comparable to its 2005 report because the way surveyors count the "online dating population" has changed. There were no dating apps eight years ago. That said, the percentage of Americans who say they have used an online dating website grew from 3 percent in 2008 to 6 percent in 2009, and 9 percent this year.

Among Pew's other findings:

-- Don't call it stalking: One-third of Americans who use social networking sites use the sites to check up on somebody they once dated. The same is true for nearly half of those ages 18 to 29.

-- Match.com is the most popular dating site, according to the 2013 survey, just as it was in 2005. No. 2 this year is eHarmony. Yahoo Personals was in second place in 2005, but it no longer exists. Searching for it online will take you to Match.com.

-- Twenty-nine percent of respondents say they know someone who has been in a long-term relationship or married someone they met online, compared with 15 percent in 2005.

-- Forty-six percent of people who use online dating sites say finding someone long-term is a major reason they use the sites. A quarter, on the other hand, "just want to have fun without being in a serious relationship."

The 2013 telephone survey was conducted from April 17 to May 19 among a sample of 2,252 U.S. adults, including people who don't own a landline. It has a margin of error of 2.3 percentage points.
 

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Print this article

Comments

Hmm... It looks like you’re not a WCPO Insider. or Subscribe now to contribute!

More National News
Study: Girls view sexual violence as normal
Study: Girls view sexual violence as normal

New research from the journal Gender & Society shows girls view sexual violence as a normal part of life.

Mother of 3 shot, killed while on phone with 911
Mother of 3 shot, killed while on phone with 911

A 44-year-old mother of three was shot to death by her "hallucinating" husband while she was on the phone with 911, waiting for…

Little government response a year later
Little government response a year later

A year after homemade bombs ripped through the Boston Marathon, state and federal officials have enacted virtually no policy changes in…

Boston Marathon staff confident of safe race
Boston Marathon staff confident of safe race

The arrest of a man with a rice cooker in his backpack near the Boston Marathon finish line led police to step up patrols Wednesday, while…

Missing Neb. boy, 3, found safe in toy claw game
Missing Neb. boy, 3, found safe in toy claw game

A 3-year-old Nebraska boy is now safe after somehow crawling his way into a stuffed animal claw machine at a bowling alley across the street…

Male cop dresses as Amish woman to stop flasher
Male cop dresses as Amish woman to stop flasher

A western Pennsylvania police officer says he spent much of December and January dressed as an Amish woman in hopes of scaring off a man…

Man charged with marathon hoax held on bail
Man charged with marathon hoax held on bail

A man who authorities say was taken into custody near the Boston Marathon finish line carrying a backpack containing a rice cooker on the…

Court to weigh challenge to ban on campaign lies
Court to weigh challenge to ban on campaign lies

Negative campaigning and mudslinging may be a fact of life in American politics, but can false accusations made in the heat of an election be…

Dress codes: Where should schools set limits?
Dress codes: Where should schools set limits?

They're called leggings - popular fashion items that are tight-fitting pants to some, and glorified tights to others.

Boston PD safely blow up suspicious backpacks
Boston PD safely blow up suspicious backpacks

Survivors, first responders and relatives of those killed in the Boston Marathon bombing marked the anniversary Tuesday with tributes that…