Online dating has been around in some form since digital communication became a common fixture of the internet. Whether “meeting” someone in an online chat room or developing a relationship through regular emails, digital courtship certainly isn't a new thing. And before the internet, there were dating videos and matchmaking companies that did much the same thing.
It didn't take very long for internet savvy entrepreneurs to commodify online dating into a massive industry that seems to keep growing. It may have been an admission of failure in “normal” relationships to join an online dating site at one time, but with new apps like Tinder and sites like OKCupid plus hundreds more, it's now socially acceptable to at least give online dating a try.
Millions of people join (and leave) dating sites each year, looking for their long-lost love or at least new friends to spend the days with. The vast majority do so without knowing much about online dating, except for all those urban legends, a few word-of-mouth reports and, of course, whatever the convincing advertisements say. For them, this list of 20 shocking facts about online dating in the United States, according to Statistics Brain, will be very enlightening.
19 54M Single People in the U.S.
Over 50 million adult men and women in the United States are without a significant other. That's far less than half of the U.S. population, but still a considerable number especially for the hundreds of internet dating websites looking to turn a profit on people seeking a mate.
Each of the 54 million single people is another potential customer who, perhaps out of frustration, will sign up to an online dating site to find a friend, husband, or wife. Being single often means being lonely, one of the biggest reasons to start making a profile.
18 41M People in the U.S. Have Tried Online Dating
The vast majority of single people in the U.S. have tried online dating at one time or another. It’s safe to say that many single people consider online dating a viable option when it comes to finding at least a sexual partner. Some may have tried it and decided it wasn't for them or were unsuccessful in finding a suitable date.
Others may have had better luck and have multiple profiles on different online dating services to increase their chances.
17 15M eHarmony Members
eHarmony is one of the most popular online dating websites on the market. For a monthly membership that sells for as little $10.95 (for a 24-month subscription), eHarmony claims that it will use scientific algorithms to couple single people with their best relationship match.
The scientific viability of these online dating algorithms has met some criticism over the years, but it does help many people narrow down their options more than they might be able to through real-life romantic pursuits in a bar or at a party.
16 21M Match Members
eHarmony is popular, but not as popular as Match, the very first online dating site to introduce the concept of relationship matching. It has been in operation for 17 years.
Members can join the site for $20.99 for 12 months (in addition to multiple subscription options) and complete their profiles, which include a series of questions. The questions form a summary of users' personalities. Similar to eHarmony and many other online dating sites, Match uses this data and compares it with other members to assign a “perfect match”.
15 $238USD Spent Annually by An Online Dater
Some dating sites like OkCupid and PlentyOfFish are generally free to use with the option to purchase a premium membership, which unlocks reserved features like unlimited message storage and the ability to see who "likes" you back.
However, other sites like eHarmony and Match require a paid membership to use. Out of the 41 million Americans who have tried online dating, a large number have stuck to it, and tested their faith by spending an average of $238 a year for memberships and other perks. This isn't necessarily a large sum for people who might spend a lot more just for a night out.
14 52% of Online Daters are Men
For one reason or another, men have a less trustworthy reputation when it comes to online dating than women. That may be true for some who use dating sites to simply find a fling rather than a long-term relationship, or for immature men with little respect for other users.
But with over 50 % of users being men, not all can be disingenuous. This percentage is good news for single women. They have a lot of options when choosing a man to engage or respond to, or when finding someone new if one man ends up being a dud after a face-to-face date.
13 71% of Users Believe in Love at First Sight
This fact can say a lot about the people who go online to find love. Perhaps they are die-hard romantics who wear their hearts on their sleeves, and believe there is one person out there that’s right for them.
A big part of online dating is finding someone who will go on dates which are “no strings attached”. But the statistics don't lie: finding true love is the ultimate goal for most. There is still some romance left in the dating world, even when it's online.
12 20% of Committed Relationships Began Online
Some people swear by the convenience and success of online dating websites, while others disregard them as equally or more ineffective than regular dating.
However, according to the statistics, internet dating does work for at least 20 percent of the people who make a commitment to keep at it. Starting a committed relationship with someone you met online is possible, just as it is with real-life dating.
11 17% of Marriages are From Online Dating
Whether dating online or in person, the goal for many single people is marriage. They want to settle down, tie the knot, and start a family with the person they deeply love.
However, online dating may not be the best option for these people. Only an average of 17% of marriages are from relationships that began from online dating, and, with divorce rates in the U.S. skyrocketing, there's no telling if those marriages will actually last.
10 18 Months Average Courtship Before Marriage
Marriages don't happen just like that - except with rare exceptions like those impulsive elopements to Las Vegas! Relationships take months and even years to develop before a couple finally decides to take the proverbial plunge. This is also true for online dating.
After moving from trading messages, to meeting, to dating in real life, it can take an average of 18 months before online daters get married. Couples take time to decide if they are as compatible as the website made them seem.
9 38% of Women Prefer "Nice Guys"
Nice guys finish last? Not always. Squeaky-clean men don’t have to hide their natural personalities to attract girls online. It’s most likely a tired cliché that all girls like the “bad boy”. In actuality, women are usually more attracted to confidence, a sense of humour, and men who know how to treat women with the respect they most certainly deserve.
The men who are planning to alter their personalities online just to get a date should look at this statistic and think again. As people often say, just be yourself.
8 42% of Men Prefer "Modern Career Girl"
On the flip side, not all men prefer ditzy girls who follow their boyfriends and husbands according to their every whim.
This statistic tells us that a healthy percentage of men would rather date or commit to a modern career girl over someone who, perhaps, doesn’t have their life quite figured out. Just like women, men seem to want their potential significant others to be confident, assertive, and extremely independent. Maturity seems to be the most desired trait for both genders.
7 Women’s Online Desirability Peaks at Age 21
It’s common for women to get more private messages than men, especially if these women are 21 years old and younger. The number of women being contacted peaks for those who list their age at 21, declining steadily after this point. It’s a cliché, but it's commonly believed that men are biologically programmed to chase younger and consequently more fertile women, which may be the reason for this statistic.
6 Younger Women Have Most Online Pursuers
This is where the numbers get tricky. Although women’s online desirability peaks at 21, they have the most active pursuers around the age of 26. Close to half of men prefer a modern career girl, and a woman in her late 20s is more likely to have a stable career (or at least working to develop one) than a younger girl. However, 26 year old still fulfil the 'youth' preference of many men.
5 Older Men Have Double The Online Pursuers Of Young Men
In a trend which opposes that of men seeking women, the older that a man is in the online dating world, the more women will seek him out. This may be because older men are perceived to be more financially and emotionally stable, having lived a longer life with more character-building experiences than men in their 30s and 20s.
Men at this age have likely had more relationships too. As a result, they may be perceived to have developed more maturity. Maturity in men is a good sign that they're more willing to commit to a long-term relationship or even marriage, which many single women will be seeking online.
4 Men Lie About Age, Height, Income
Men often lie about their personality or daily life in order to seem more attractive, just like with normal dating. It’s quite natural to tell a few white lies here and there. However, with online dating, men lie about their major physical attributes and financial stability -including lies about age, height, and income.
Men might be sabotaging themselves when doing so. Within just one date, women will quickly work out the lies regarding height and age, at least.
3 Women Lie About Weight, Physical Build, Age
Women also lie in their online dating profiles. However, their lies differ from men’s with exaggerations or misinformation focused on their weight, build, as well as their age. This may be a side effect of a dating culture that focuses on women’s looks over their personalities and accomplishments.
As a result, they lie to seem more attractive to potential pursuers. It’s easy to list false information in a general profile, but it’s unclear how these lies impact the success of face-to-face meetings.
2 10% of Online Daters are Sex Offenders
Despite safeguards, sexual predators still unfortunately lurk in the digital world seeking out a potential real-life victim. It would be judgemental to say that all sex offenders are repeating criminals, but many are, which leads online daters to be cautious when sharing personal information in a dating profile.
Up to 10% of online daters are sex offenders, a statistic which suggests it certainly doesn't hurt to be extra careful.
1 $1B Online Dating Annual Revenue
Online dating is a business. Each dating website offers a service for its customers to find a potential mate. As the social world changes, more and more people turn to online dating, and they're willing to pay the price to unlock every feature a dating website or app offers.
Millions of members generate about $1 billion USD in annual revenue from online dating alone. There's no sign that the industry is slowing down either. According to CNBC, online dating revenues are growing to between 10 and 15% per year.
The two biggest and wealthiest dating sites are still eHarmony and Match, although "free" sites like PlentyOfFish, OKCupid, and even Tinder are attracting millions of users.