The dating landscape has changed a lot since Match.com opened its virtual doors in 1995. In 2015, online dating sites and mobile dating apps comprised nearly 75% of the $2.4 billion per year dating industry, according to The Wall Street Journal. Intrigued, we took to the streets—or rather, Google Consumer Surveys1— to learn more about the where, who, and why of online dating.
It turns out age is the biggest predictor of how people feel about online dating services. Confidence in the success of these services decreases with age. While the majority of 18-24 year-olds are optimistic about online dating prospects, the 65+ group is more guarded; about 70% of them think online daters are looking for love in all the wrong places.
The younger crowd is more open to online dating, perhaps because they’re more comfortable with technology overall. Millennials and Generation Z-ers are “digital natives”– they’re the first generation to grow up with the internet, social media, cell phones, etc. They use their computers and smartphones for everything from finding a place to eat to buying a car, so using it to find a companion isn’t much of a stretch.
Anecdotal evidence is on the Millennials’ side; more than half say someone in their social circle has had a relationship that started on a dating site. As online dating becomes more commonplace and accepted, young love seekers are taking to the Web more willingly than their elders. About 29% of our respondents 25-34 have dated online. This is slightly higher than the 2013 Pew Survey’s finding of 22% for this age group, suggesting that online dating may be on the rise.
Of those who give online dating sites a try, about 20% of our 18-24 year-olds have succeeded at scoring a date – but it’s the 65+ group who hears the most wedding bells. If you’re a mature bachelor or bachelorette, online dating might be worth a second look.
We asked the online daters if they had better compatibility with their service’s generated matches or their manual searches. Singles over 35 preferred browsing profiles for themselves, while daters under 35 appreciated the extra help. Still, based on the smaller number of respondents who prefer generated matches, we might conclude that matchmaking algorithms are not quite there yet.
The big question is, which dating sites sent our singles on the most dates? OkCupid, Match, and Tinder were neck in neck, with Tinder most popular among the 18-24 year olds and Match winning out among the 45-54 crowd.
Nearly 20% of our respondents aged 18-24 said they had dated online, compared to just 5.7% of those 65+. In addition to knowing fewer people who had dated or married an online match, older singles are more concerned about the safety of meeting a stranger. When we asked if it’s safe to meet online dating matches in person, more than half of our youngest singles answered yes.
Overall, our young singles were more open to the idea of online dating, more comfortable with meeting their online matches, and more inclined to believe that the internet is a valid place to look for love. Mature singles were more skeptical, but they shouldn’t dismiss the idea outright; more of our respondents 65+ had married an online match than any other age group. The internet is a big place, and with the number of online dating sites – and apps! – available today, meeting The One is less like winning the lottery than it used to be.
Google Consumer Surveys use inferred demographic and location information to “ensure each survey receives a representative sample“. The opinions expressed by survey respondents may not accurately represent the success rate or quality of the online dating sites mentioned above. We have not influenced the results in any way.
1 Sample size is 1,028 survey responses. Conducted using Google Consumer Surveys, January 2016.