Couples, the Internet, and Social Media

By Aaron Smith and Maeve Duggan. One in ten Americans have used an online dating site or mobile dating app themselves, and many people now know someone else who uses online dating or who has found a spouse or long-term partner via online dating. General public attitudes towards online dating have become much more positive in recent years, and social networking sites are now playing a prominent role when it comes to navigating and documenting romantic relationships. One in every ten American adults has used an online dating site or a mobile dating app. Online dating is also relatively popular among the college-educated, as well as among urban and suburban residents.

Compared with eight years ago, online daters in are more likely to actually go out on dates with the people they meet on these sites. 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:.

In general, online daters themselves give the experience high marks. Yet even some online daters view the process itself and the individuals they encounter on these sites somewhat negatively. Familiarity with online dating through usage by friends or family members has increased dramatically since our last survey of online dating in People in nearly every major demographic group—old and young, men and women, urbanites and rural dwellers—are more likely to know someone who uses online dating or met a long term partner through online dating than was the case eight years ago.

And this is especially true for those at the upper end of the socio-economic spectrum:.

Safe Dating Practices

Even as online daters have largely positive opinions of the process, many have had negative experiences using online dating. Women are much more likely than men to have experienced uncomfortable contact via online dating sites or apps: Paid dating sites, and sites for people who are seeking partners with specific characteristics are popular with relatively large numbers of online daters:.

Even today, the vast majority of Americans who are in a marriage, partnership, or other serious relationship say that they met their partner through offline—rather than online—means. At the same time, the proportion of Americans who say that they met their current partner online has doubled in the last eight years.

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. Younger adults are also more likely than older ones to say that their relationship began online.

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In addition, people who have used online dating are significantly more likely to say that their relationship began online than are those who have never used online dating. Compared with when we conducted our first study of dating and relationships in , 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:.


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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. Today six out of every ten Americans use social networking sites SNS such as Facebook or Twitter, and these sites are often intertwined with the way they experience their past and present romantic relationships:. Listen to the experts.

Some sites even offer the member an option to sign up for a background check. Have it forward to your cell phone, so your dates don't know your cell or home phone number.


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The scoop from users. The online daters I spoke to voiced mixed feelings about their experiences. And despite enjoying a handful of dates, year old Patricia B. Without a shared history or mutual friends, the people feel interchangeable. Maybe I'm a bit old-fashioned; I like to meet in person first and then see where things go, rather than communicating online, then meeting the person and seeing if they live up to expectations," However, he adds, "Online dating forces you to be more outgoing, and it is an easy way to potentially connect with a lot people, especially if one isn't in many social situations.

I did Google religiously when vetting a cyber-date prospect, to try to find out as much as I could about him -- and thus assure myself that he was who he said he was.

Safe Dating Practices

I could see that he had a Facebook friend with whom I'd gone to college. When I asked about that, he told me that the guy was a good friend of his. This made me comfortable that he wasn't a serial killer! I can't believe that I have stupendous physical chemistry with someone whose pheromones I wasn't able to sniff out until after the initial online joust and parry. Maybe you'll meet someone nice in a museum, or at a party, or at work And why not walk through it and see what happens?

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