Online dating was first introduced as personal ads in the ‘90s, and then sites like Match, JDate, and eHarmony improved and solidified the process. Dozens of platforms then followed suit. The ways singles meet has drastically changed because of online dating, and a massive amount of data has been collected over the years about the effects of online dating, the behaviors of online daters, and so on.
To organize it all, we’ve compiled a list of 27 surprising statistics about online dating. We’ve also provided some thoughts on what these statistics mean in terms of the future of the industry.
1. There are Almost 8,000 Dating Sites in the World
According to Forbes, the United States alone has 2,500 dating sites, and about 1,000 new dating sites are launched every year. It’s also estimated that there are nearly 8,000 dating sites worldwide. These include everything from Match, the first dating site ever, to Bristlr, a dating site for beard lovers that was founded in 2014.
It’s great that singles have so many options and can find the right dating site for their needs (whether they want a tall suitor or someone who also loves “Star Trek”). However, with so many dating sites flooding the market so quickly, people could also have too many choices, which can become a problem of its own. Plus, the quality of the dating sites could dip.
2. Nearly 50 Million People Have Tried Online Dating
The Statistic Brain Research Institute reports that more than 49.7 million Americans have tried online dating, and that’s not far off from how many single people there are in the US: 54.4 million. A survey by Statista, an online statistics, market research and business intelligence portal, revealed that 24% of people use dating sites to find hookups, 43% to find friends, and 84% to find relationships. In addition, 30% of online daters are between 18 and 29 years old, and 16% make between $30,000 and $74,999 a year.
As with most new things, people were skeptical about online dating when it first came out, but now it’s as normal as getting set up on a blind date or meeting someone at a bar. We suspect it’ll only become more commonplace, eventually replacing some of the traditional meeting avenues completely.
3. More Men Use Online Dating Than Women
In terms of gender breakdown, Statistic Brain found that more than half of online daters are men, while less than half are women. Other studies by GlobalWebIndex and the Pew Research Center had similar results: 62% of dating app users are men, and 13% of American men had used a dating app or site vs. only 9% of American women.
Some scientists say this is because women are more often bombarded with messages and inappropriate photos and claims that feminism has made dating “easier” for men. Women are 75% more likely to want to split the bill, and 95% don’t mind taking charge in the bedroom.
“Men say that feminism has really made dating easier, safer, and more enjoyable for them,” said Dr. Helen Fisher, biological anthropologist and Chief Scientific Adviser for Match.
4. Most Daters Spend $243 Each Year on Online Dating
On average, dating site customers spend $243 annually on online dating, which includes registering and renewing memberships. Statistic Brain confirms that number as well. To give you an idea of the cost of dating sites, Match is $20.99 a month for 12 months, Zoosk is $12.49 a month for six months, eHarmony is $21.95 a month for 12 months, and Tinder Plus is $9.99 a month.
However, most dating sites and apps are 100% free to create a profile, upload photos, search for matches, receive matches, flirt (e.g., virtual winks), and communicate. So singles really don’t have to pay to date online or via their smartphone. If singles do decide to pay for a dating site, it’s still a more affordable option than trying to meet someone by going out — because you might be paying for a new outfit, Uber or other forms of transportation, as well as drinks and food.
5. Annual Revenue for Online Dating is $1.9 Billion
Speaking of money, Statistic Brain reports that the online dating industry’s annual revenue is over $1.9 billion dollars. From 2010 to 2015, revenue expanded at an annual rate of 5%. The Match Group, which owns sites like OkCupid, Tinder, and PlentyOfFish, currently boasts a market cap of $2.3 billion. At the end of 2016, Nasdaq estimated that revenue totaled $1.6 billion in China.
Clearly, online dating is very lucrative, and as more dating sites launch and more people put off marriage, we expect revenue to continue growing at a steady pace.
6. Half of People Think Online Dating is a Good Way to Meet Potential Dates
When online dating was first created, a lot of people had their doubts about it being safe and legit. When the Pew Research Center conducted a poll in 2005, they found that just 44% of people had a positive attitude toward it.
Flash forward to 2015, and that number had grown to 59%. As we mentioned earlier, online dating is becoming the norm, not the exception.
7. On the Flip Side, 23% Say It’s Desperate
On the other side of that coin, Pew also found that online dating still has some stigma surrounding it — at least for some people. Approximately, 29% of those surveyed in 2005 agreed with the statement “People who use online dating sites are desperate.” In 2005, that number had shrunk to 23%.
8. One in 10 Online Daters Quit After Three Months
Another fact Statistic Brain found in its research is that 10% of online daters try online dating for 90 days but then cancel their subscription. We think this number could also include those who have met their ideal match, which is why the wanted to leave the dating site.
Some reasons for online dating membership cancellations could include that it feels disconnected from real life, all the people and conversations seem the same, it tends to be shallow, and it’s “all about sex.” We could be coming full circle — with people growing numb with online dating and wanting to try old-fashioned or more traditional ways of meeting again.
9. A Majority of Tinder Users are Looking for a Serious Date, Not a Hookup
When Tinder hit the dating scene in 2012, it got a reputation as a hookup app because of it’s swiping matching system. You look at someone’s photo and read a few details about the person, and then you swipe right for yes and left for no. But actually 80% of people on Tinder say they want to find serious dates and a long-term relationship, according to Business Insider.
Tinder and apps like it are meant for quickly connecting with someone who interests you and then setting up that first meeting ASAP. It wasn’t built for people to have endless online conversations. Sites like JustAskMeOut, in which you have to plan a first date or first real-life encounter, are growing in popularity.
10. Interests Outrank Looks (64% vs. 49%)
While some might say online dating is all based on looks, that doesn’t appear to be the case. In fact, 64% of people surveyed by Statistic Brain said having common interests with someone is more important than how they look. On the flip side, 49% of people surveyed said a prospective date’s appearance is the most important factor to them. We imagine these numbers will stay about the same as new online daters enter the scene and experienced online daters find their matches.
11. More Than 1 in 5 People Had Someone Help With Their Dating Profile
eHarmony conducted some online dating research of its own, and one of the findings includes that 22% of online daters have asked a friend to help them with their dating profile. That could be assisting in the writing or telling them which photos will work best, among other things. In terms of gender, 30% of women said they had someone help them with their profiles compared with 16% of men.
There’s no shame in getting someone else’s opinion on your dating profile — you’d probably do the same when writing a resumé and cover letter for a job.
12. More Than 50% of Americans Lie on Their Profile
Another pretty shocking result from eHarmony’s survey is that 53% of people lie on their dating profile. Even small exaggerations count as lies, people! Some of the most common lies happen when people are talking about their height, weight, lifestyle, age, and income (more on those last two below).
More dating sites and apps are adding additional steps to the verification process to ensure users are who they say they are and to cut down on lying and fake profiles. For example, BeNaughty.com confirms members’ identities via phone or email, BeautifulPeople.com confirms members’ appearance and income, and DateMySchool.com confirms members’ education.
13. The Same Number of Americans Say They’ve Seen a Profile Where It Looks Like the Person Lied
So a lot of online daters exaggerate or flat out lie on their profiles, but studies show that they believe others are lying as well. In an article in the US magazine Scientific American, 54% of online daters said they’ve seen a profile in which they thought the person was presenting false information.
14. Men Lie About Money; Women Lie About Age
Back to the eHarmony research, men and women are both guilty of lying, but they’re guilty of lying about different things. Men tend to lie about their job and/or how much money they make, while women tend to lie about how old they are. In fact, 20% of women have used a photo from when they were younger, and 40% of men lied about their position at work and/or income to sound more successful.
15. Over 60% of Online Daters are Already in a Relationship
The lies just keep getting bigger — turns out a significant number of people aren’t honest about their relationship status either. One article reports that 62% of online daters are already in a relationship or married (51% vs. 11%, respectively). On Tinder specifically, 42% of users currently have a partner (30% are married, and 12% are in a relationship).
One way to circumvent this could be to do background checks, which a lot of dating sites already do. But most of the background checks look for histories of sexual assault, identity theft, and other crimes. They don’t necessarily look for marriage certificates, which are public record.
16. One-Third of Women Have Sex on the First Encounter With an Online Match
Despite the lies some people tell, online dating has actually worked for millions of people. Starting off in the hookup realm, a study from the University of Texas School of Public Health found one-third of women have had sex on the first date with someone they met on a dating site or app.
We’re getting closer and closer to an era where women can feel comfortable expressing their sexuality (including having first-date sex) just like men do and not face any consequences. Even former President Barack Obama thinks it’s ridiculous to shame women for having sex.
17. Four Out of 5 Women Don’t Use Protection on the First Offline Date
Perhaps some unfortunate news from that same University of Texas study is that three-quarters of those women who had first-date sex with an online match didn’t use protection. We can’t stress enough how important it is to be safe offline as well as online.
There’s just no excuse not use a condom — they only cost 45 cents each! But the numbers show that this is what’s happening. According to the Independent, 15% of people under 25 had unprotected sex with two or more partners in the last year. Even though STI rates are up (6% for chlamydia, 13% for gonorrhea, and 19% for syphilis).
“We are definitely seeing young people who don’t practice safe sex,” said Dr. Hansa Bhargava, a WebMD medical editor and pediatrician based in Atlanta. “In a casual relationship, if a person feels like they ‘know’ the other person, they are less likely to practice protected sex.”
18. Two-Thirds of Users Have Gone Out With Someone They Met Online
Online dating success doesn’t just include casual encounters, of course. The research we mentioned above from the Pew Research Center found that 66% of online daters have been on at least one date with someone they were matched with. It’s a numbers game — if you’re on a dating site or app with millions of singles, you’re bound to meet at least one person you’d like to get coffee or drinks with.
19. One in 5 Committed Relationships Begin Online
The good news just keeps on coming. Statistic Brain says 20% of current relationships began online, and 17% of couples who married within the last year met on a dating site.
20. People Who Met Their Spouse Online are More Likely to Say Their Marriage is Satisfying
Turns out, couples who met on a dating site or app may have more fulfilling marriages than those who didn’t, at least, according to a study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in 2012 (which looked at 19,000 married couples between 2005 and 2012).
The Business Insider article reads: “People who met their spouse online said their marriage was more satisfying than those who met their spouse offline. Plus, marriages that began online were less likely to end in separation or divorce.”
21. About 50% of People End an Online Relationship via Email
While a lot of couples have found their happily ever after thanks to online dating, some relationships never make it offline. eHarmony’s results show that nearly half of people break up with their online match by sending them an email. At least they didn’t ghost them.
Technology, online dating included, has done a lot of amazing things and has made our lives easier in so many ways. But technology has also created a bigger disconnect between people when it was supposed to bring them together. Maybe people don’t feel as bad about their actions because they’re behind a screen and there are no perceived repercussions
22. A Quarter of Online Daters Have Been Contacted in a Way That Made Them Uncomfortable
We can’t talk about online dating without also talking about some of the scary aspects of it. Referring back to the Scientific American study, 1 in 4 people said they had been IM’d or messaged by someone on a dating site who made them feel uncomfortable or harassed. Perhaps it was by someone they rejected, perhaps it was someone sending an unsolicited photo, or perhaps it was someone asking for money.
Pretty much every dating site/app allows users to block and report someone who’s harassing them, but we think these platforms are going to come up with more ways to protect users.
23. Those Who Catfish Often Do So Out of Loneliness/Boredom or for Revenge
Catfishing is when someone pretends to be someone they’re not on a dating site, social network, or chat site, among others. Sometimes they do this to scam people out of money, but FreeDating.co.uk found that most do this because they’re out for revenge or are lonely or bored.
24. Online Dating Scams Have Cost Victims $50 Million
According to the Internet Crime Complaint Center, a project of the FBI, online dating scams in 2011 added up to a loss of over $50 million. Specifically, women — and especially women aged 50+ — made up over $39 million of the losses. The Internet Crime Complaint Center said scammers often “use poetry, flowers, and other gifts to reel in victims, while declaring ‘undying love.’”
Punishment for online dating scammers typically depends on the state you live in. According to FindLaw.com, online scammers are often charged with wire fraud and are made to pay restitution to their victims. They could also be sentenced to up to 30 years in prison. As these kinds of crimes become more prevalent, dating sites, law enforcement, lawyers, and government officials are learning how to better combat them and create barriers, policies, and laws to prevent them in the first place.
25. One in 10 Profiles are Fake
Not only do online daters have to be wary of liars, but they also have to keep an eye out for inactive or spam profiles. Business Insider reports that 10% of accounts on dating sites are fake. In fact, one dating site, SeekingArrangement.com, deletes over 600 fake accounts every day. This is probably more so the case on free dating sites than on paid dating sites because bots and scammers don’t have a barrier to entry (e.g., paying for a membership).
26. One in 10 Sex Offenders are on a Dating Site
One of the last biggest takeaways from Statistic Brain’s study is that 10% of sex offenders use online dating to meet new people. In addition, according to the Independent, 3% of online daters are considered psychopaths. Remember to Google your matches and use background-checking sites like BeenVerified.
27. Online Predators Commit 16,000 Abductions, 100 Murders & Thousands of Rapes a Year
Each year, thousands of abductions and rapes and hundreds of murders are committed on online dating sites. If you suspect someone is behaving illegally, report them to the dating site or app you’re using, notify your local police, and/or file a complaint with the Internet Crime Complaint Center. Of course, the punishment for these crimes (which usually vary by state) are more severe than for those who commit an online dating scam involving money.
Stay in the Know With These Statistics
Online dating has only been around for a little over two decades, so it hasn’t even hit midlife yet. But online dating has had such a big impact in such a short amount of time. We’ve got some ideas for where it’s heading, but, for now, we’ll continue to watch and inform you as things change.