About one in ten (11%) internet users who responded to our survey said they had ever gone to a dating website where they could meet people online.13 That represents about 16 million people. Looking exclusively at the current target population for these services, we find that 37% of internet users who say they are both single and currently looking to meet a romantic partner have gone to a dating website, which represents about 4 million people.
Online daters are generally younger and more likely to be employed. Looking across age groups, the youngest cohort (18-29 years old) has the largest percentage of online daters within it, with 18% of all online adults in that age group visiting a dating site. However, 11% of online adults ages 30-49 have ventured to dating sites, while 6% of those ages 50-64 and a mere 3% of those aged 65 and older have tried dating sites.
Online daters are more likely to be employed than non-daters, but they are not necessarily garnering huge salaries. Those earning lower incomes are slightly more likely to be online daters. Much of this discrepancy may be explained by the general youth of online daters, who have not necessarily entered their prime earning years. Possibly due to the relatively small sample size, there are no statistically significant differences in online dating use across race and ethnicity categories or education levels
Some of those who have used online dating websites are now officially “off the market.” Of the 16 million American adults who have ever used online dating websites, about one quarter (23%) are now married or living as married. Still, the majority (45%) of those who have visited the sites have never been married. Three in ten (31%) online daters were married but are now divorced, separated or widowed.
A majority of online daters report good experiences with the sites.
The survey shows that many online daters appear to be successful in meeting people online. A sizable segment of those who use online dating websites (43%) have actually followed through with a date, and 17% say their online romances have resulted in a long-term relationship or marriage.
Most daters report that online dating is a pretty good experience. Just over half of online daters report that they had a mostly positive experience with online dating websites—52% reported a mostly positive experience, while 29% said it was mostly negative, 7% said it was both positive and negative, and 12% were not sure.
Dating sites Yahoo and Match win the hearts of most users
Though internet users often take advantage of other opportunities for dating, flirting, meeting, and investigating potential dates online, websites specifically geared toward online dating form the core of internet romance activities. Panel data gathered by comScore Media Metrix shows that Yahoo Personals and Match.com attracted the most visitors in January 2006. The table below lists the top ten websites that fall within the personals and dating category
Online daters tend to identify with more liberal social attitudes
Those who have used dating websites are more likely to describe themselves as supporters of gay marriage and identify as “someone who likes to try new things” when compared with the general population of adults and all internet users. They are less likely to identify themselves as religious and are less likely to say they believe in traditional gender roles for men and women.