Dating Apps and Online Dating Sites

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:

  • 11% of internet users (representing 9% of all adults) say that they have personally used on online dating site such as Match, eHarmony, or OK Cupid.
  • 7% of cell phone apps users (representing 3% of all adults) say that they have used a dating app on their cell phone.

Taken together, 11% of all American adults have used either an online dating site or a mobile dating app and areclassified as “online daters.”The questions we have used to measure online dating have evolved over the years, and as a result we cannot directly compare the size of the total online dating population to some of our earlier surveys on the subject.6However,the use of online dating sites7has become steadily more prevalent in recent years. In 2008 just 3% of all Americans said that they had used an online dating site; by 2009 that figure had risen to 6% of all Americans, and today9% of the adult population has used an online dating site.

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—that is roughly double the rate for those ages 18-24 or those ages 45-54.Urban and suburban residents are more likely than rural residents to use online dating, and those who have attended college are around twice as likely to do so as are those who have not attended college.

Focus on dating sites: 9% of American adults use online dating sites

Looking separately at the two distinct elements that make up definition of an online dater, some 11% of internet users say that they have used an online dating site. This does not include users of mobile dating apps, which will be discussed in the next section of the report. Since 85% of the population now goes online,that means that one out of every ten Americans (9%) has used an online dating site at one point or another.

The college-educated and those in their mid-twenties through mid-forties are especially likely to use online dating sites.

As we did in our previous study, we presented online dating site users with an open-ended follow-up question asking which particular dating site(s) they have used. Match was the most-mentioned site in both our 2005 and 2013 studies, and eHarmony also ranked highly in both 2005 and 2013.

Focus on apps: 3% of American adults—including one out of every ten between the ages of 25 and 34—use dating apps on their cell phone

The online dating marketplace has undergone dramatic changes since we conducted our first study on this subject in 2005. In particular, many services now offer cell phone apps that allow users to update their profile, search the profiles of others, and find potential dates in their area using their mobile phone.9For the first time in our 2013 survey we asked specifically about the use of these cell phone dating apps.

Among those who use cell phone apps, 7% say that they have specifically used a dating app on their phone. Since 45% of all Americans are app users, that means that 3% of the overall adult population has used a cell phone dating appat one point or another.10Similarly, 6% of smartphone owners have used a mobile dating app.

Although online dating sites are relatively common among a range of age cohorts, mobile dating apps are primarily popular with Americans in their mid-20s through mid-30s. One out of every ten 25-34 year olds (11%) has used a dating app—that is double the rate for those ages 18-24 (5% of whom have used dating apps) and for those ages 35-44 (4%). Older adults use online dating sites in at least modest numbers, but dating app usage is effectively non-existent for people in their mid-forties and beyond.

The median ages for online dating site users and dating app users are illustrative in highlighting the age differences between each group. The typical (median) online dating site user is 38 years old, while the typical (median) dating app user is 29 years old—nearly a decade younger.

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