At this point in the history of online dating, Tinder, Hinge, Bumble, and similar dating apps have become a staple in the lives of millions of single people around the world. I’d even go as far as to say that these apps are treated by many (myself included) like some sort of addictive game. Bored on the metro on the way to work? Pull out your phone and start swiping. Got a few minutes before your next Zoom meeting? Check to see if your match from this morning has messaged you back. Desperate to avoid the existential nighttime thoughts? Send out some likes to keep the demons at bay. 

All of that to say: We spend a lot of time on these apps. And because I don’t think our reliance on them (both for meeting people and for getting our hourly dose of dopamine) is slowing down anytime soon, it may be beneficial to focus on optimizing the time that we do spend on them. This could be accomplished by understanding more about how these platforms really work. You know, the numbers. The trends. What’s working for people? What isn’t? These online messaging stats will give you the behind-the-scenes look you need to up your matchmaking game. And if not? Well, at least they’re interesting. How’s that for a dopamine boost? Let’s get into it. 

1. About One-Fourth (26%) of Men Respond to App Messages

More than one-fourth (26%) of men respond to any given message sent to them on a dating app, whereas only 16% of women do the same, according to a research study based on 400,000 heterosexual users of an unspecified dating app. Man or woman, it doesn’t matter: This statistic probably does not surprise you. And it could be for a handful of reasons.

Graphs showing message ratio distributions for men and women
Men respond to incoming messages at a higher rate than women do.

For one, it could be that, despite how traditional dating values have become less prevalent as a result of the women’s rights movement, many people still believe men should be the primary pursuers in romantic relationships. This belief — whether consciously or subconsciously — is reflected in dating app users’ behavior (unless, of course, we’re talking about a dating app like Bumble where the woman has to send the first message). This could also be because women tend to be more selective on dating apps than men are. And for a good reason, too. There are hella creeps out there. 

2. The Average First Message Contains 8 Words

Based on the results of the same study mentioned above, the first message sent after a match has an average of eight words (or 42 characters). I personally love this statistic because it backs up the belief that an initial “Hey!” or even “How are you?!” message is a major red flag on a dating site. It shows a lack of creativity, for one, and it says to me that you put not a single ounce of effort into reading through my profile.

If you had read my profile, you could have used a piece of information that you learned — no matter how small — as a starting-off point for our conversation. But, no. You chose to greet me like your Monday morning barista instead. Learn a little something from this statistic and do better! You can unlock some more first message tips here.

3. Women Share a Phone Number More Than Half of the Time

Any frequent dating app user will tell you that responding to a message from a match doesn’t necessarily mean sparks are flying. The real sign of success comes when one or both users takes the initiative to carry the conversation outside of the app. In other words, they share contact information (usually the phone number).

“19% of mutual conversations contain phone numbers, and 81% do not.” — Jennie Zhang and Taha Yasseri

According to insights from the same study in the previous two points, the woman shares her phone number 57.3% of the time. This is not too far off from half, but the extra 7.3% may be explained by the fact that, again, men are still predominantly expected to be the initiators in romantic contexts, and the woman provided her contact information because the man was the one to ask for it. 

4. Message Responses Peak Within 8 Hours of Matching

During a time when dating app burnout is plaguing young singles all over the world, it would make sense that many of the successful digital dating experiences come from conversations that were started quickly after matching.

This idea is supported by the same study (above) on 400,000 heterosexual dating app users, which states that 50% of mutual conversations (as in, conversations where both users responded at least once) began within eight hours of matching. What’s more, 15% of these started in under 60 seconds. Now, does this mean that if you message a match in under a minute, you can guarantee wedding bells in your future? Definitely not. But the numbers don’t lie, and they’re telling you to get those fingers moving. 

5. Online Daters Like People Who Respond Quickly

To help me double down on the previous point, we’ve got some data from a 2023 study published by Preply. In its survey of 2,000 dating app users, 3 out of every 4 respondents said they felt worried that their match would think poorly of them for responding too quickly. Researchers wanted to dig deeper to see if this was actually true. Turns out, it’s not!

Screenshot of a survey question
Online daters worried about being judged, but it’s a friendlier atmosphere than they think.

When asked the question “Have you ever judged someone based on how quickly they messaged or responded to you?” — 52% of participants answered “Yes, positively.” This shows that a majority of online users not only notice when you respond quickly, but they appreciate the haste. Just something to consider the next time you’re tempted to play it cool.

6. Women Are More Likely to Feel Overwhelmed by Chats

Women who have used online dating platforms in the past year are more likely to feel overwhelmed by the number of messages they get, based on a 2023 report conducted by the Pew Research Center. Conversely, their male counterparts report being “more likely to feel insecure about a lack of messages.” This data reflects an overarching attitude about dating that often confuses or frustrates people (particularly men), which is the belief that women have a lot more options than men and have an easier time on dating apps. 

But the truth is that, just because a woman may receive more messages than a man on a dating app does not mean that they’re more likely to find a compatible match that leads to a successful relationship. This is because research shows that men tend to take on dating apps with a “machine gun” approach. In other words, they fire away (swipe many times or send out several likes) in hopes of increasing their chances of finding a match. And although it may do exactly that, this doesn’t improve their chances of having genuine chemistry with this match. It’s all about quality over quantity. 

7. Unwanted Sexting Has Impacted 56% of Women

Sure, dating apps can be a playground for all things flirty, sexy, and fun. But bringing d*ck picks into the mix takes things to a whole new level, especially when they show up completely unannounced. I’ve personally received more unsolicited d*ck picks than I can count on both hands and feet, and, based on the same report from the Pew Research Center, I’m sure I’m not the only one. 

Pew Research survey data
Women report much higher rates of harassment on dating apps.

According to the insights published, 56% of women under 50 have received a sexually explicit picture they didn’t ask for. But, fear not, the numbers get worse! After telling the man that they are not interested, 43% of women continue to be contacted, 37% of them are called an offensive name, and 11% of them (that’s approximately one in every 10 women) receive a threat of physical harm. “Yikes” is really all I have to say about that.

8. Many Online Daters Believe They’ve Met a Scammer

Just like there are sneaky, malicious characters in the physical world, there are sneaky, malicious characters in the digital one. According to the 2023 report from the Pew Research Center, approximately 52% of those who have used dating apps or websites believe they have been faced with someone trying to scam them.

These results are more prevalent among younger men (63%) and decrease notably among men over the age of 50 (47%). About 44% percent of women of all ages report the same belief. If you’re hoping to avoid becoming a victim to an online scammer, you better brush up on your dating app red flags ASAP.

9. Almost 70% of Users Swipe Left on Bad Grammar

Maybe you’ve always struggled with grammar. Or maybe dating app burnout is wreaking havoc on your spell-checking abilities. Either way, you may want to consider doing something to fix that. Why? Because studies show that it may be keeping you from maximizing your matches online. According to a 2023 study published by Preply, 95% of dating app users consider proper spelling, punctuation, and grammar to be either “important” or “ extremely important.” 

Online messaging stat from Preply
The first message is very important in online dating relationships.

What’s more, 68% of respondents reported that finding a spelling or punctuation error in a user’s profile will result in a left swipe — regardless of how attractive the person is. The big takeaway here? Looks, in fact, aren’t everything. Oh, and it may be time to invest in Grammarly.

A Lil’ BTS Never Hurt Anybody

Whether you’re a dating app newbie or an experienced vet, you’ve probably discovered that it’s rough out here in these digital streets. There’s ghosting, scamming, dry spells, and unsolicited sexually explicit photos galore. And maybe it’s true that these nine statistics won’t unlock all the answers to your online romance problems, but they can at least provide some valuable insights into the general trends and behaviors of people looking for love in the digital realm. 

Like I said, these apps are woven into the cloth of our everyday lives at this point (if you’re a single person, at least), and that isn’t expected to change anytime soon. May as well use what we know to help us make the most out of our experience (or, at the very least, keep us entertained as we make our way through the trenches).