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Even today, online dating is not universally seen as a positive activity—a significant minority of the public views online dating skeptically.
At the same time, public attitudes towards online dating have grown more positive in the last eight years: Additionally, 32% of internet users agree with the statement that “online dating keeps people from settling down because they always have options for people to date.” This is the first time we have asked this question.
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This question was asked of everyone in a marriage or other long-term partnership, including many whose relationships were initiated well before meeting online was an option.
Looking only at those committed relationships that started within the last ten years, 11% say that their spouse or partner is someone they met online.
Half (54%) of online daters have felt that someone else seriously misrepresented themselves in their profile.
And more seriously, 28% of online daters have been contacted by someone through an online dating site or app in a way that made them feel harassed or uncomfortable.
Compared with eight years ago, online daters in 2013 are more likely to actually go out on dates with the people they meet on these sites.
Some 66% of online daters have gone on a date with someone they met through an online dating site or app, up from 43% of online daters who had done so when we first asked this question in 2005.
Compared with when we conducted our first study of dating and relationships in 2005, many more Americans are using online tools to check up on people they used to date, and to flirt with potential (or current) love interests: Young adults are especially likely to flirt online—47% of internet users ages 18-24 have done this before, as have 40% of those ages 25-34.
And while younger adults are also more likely than their elders to look up past flames online, this behavior is still relatively common among older cohorts.
Moving beyond dates, one quarter of online daters (23%) say that they themselves have entered into a marriage or long-term relationship with someone they met through a dating site or app.
That is statistically similar to the 17% of online daters who said that this had happened to them when we first asked this question in 2005.
We refer to these individuals throughout this report as “online daters,” and we define them in the following way: Taken together, 11% of all American adults have done one or both of these activities and are classified as “online daters.” In terms of demographics, online dating is most common among Americans in their mid-20’s through mid-40’s.