Let’s dive into the data and see what we can learn about finding love and staying safe.
Where are all the single people?
More than half of all adults under 30 have used a dating app, but which ones? Tinder is the most popular dating app — about half U.S. adults who date online say they’ve used the service. Match and Bumble are the second- and third-most popular choices. Tinder and Bumble were the most frequented by the youngest singles, 18 to 29, while older mainstays Match and eHarmony were biggest with the 50-and-above crowd. Overall, only 35 percent of all online daters reported paying for an app membership or extra features.
Lesbian, gay and bisexual users were slightly more likely than straight singles to use dating services, choosing Tinder, Grindr and other apps the most.
The study looked at eight of the biggest players including OkCupid, eHarmony, Hinge, Grindr and HER, but more niche dating apps are also a popular option. Together, these “other” apps were used by 31 percent of daters, including OurTime, an app for people over 50, Christian apps Plenty of Fish and Christian Mingle, and Facebook Dating.
What are people really looking for on dating apps?
Are most people looking for a quick sexual encounter or an enduring Frank and Bill kind of love? According to Pew’s survey, 44 percent of online daters say they are looking for a long-term partner, 40 percent are interested in casual dating, 24 percent want casual sex, and 22 percent are just interested in friendship. Significantly more men than women reported using the apps to seek out casual sex.
Do dating apps work for finding partners?
If you are looking for a partner, how likely are you to find one on the internet? More people think dating apps make finding partners easier than harder, and younger people were the most optimistic about their chances. According to the study, 1 in 10 adults who are in a committed partnership say they met on an online dating service.
Younger, and lesbian, gay and bisexual users were more likely to find lasting relationships on the apps. Twenty percent of people under 30 said they met their significant other online, and 24 percent of lesbian, gay and bisexual respondents said that’s where they found their partners.
In the United States, 69 percent of people describe themselves as in a partnership whether it’s marriage, living together or otherwise committed.
Who feels safe dating online?
Daters are split about the experience of looking for potential matches online. While 53 percent said they’d had positive experiences with the apps, 46 percent reported having more negative takeaways.
Most notably, women were more likely than men to have the negative experiences with online dating. One reason is likely the increased chance of harassment women face on the services. Of the 38 percent of online daters who reported receiving an unwanted sexually explicit message or photo, the majority were women. Women were also far more likely to be contacted by someone after saying they were not interested, to be called offensive names and to be threatened with physical harm, according to Pew.
Around two-thirds of women 18 to 50 experienced at least one of these forms of harassment, while a little over one-third of men in the same age range did. Women were also more likely to feel overwhelmed by the number of messages they receive.
Black users were more likely than White users to be sent explicit images or messages, and lesbian, gay and bisexual daters experienced more harassment of all kinds compared to straight daters. Overall, White users were more likely to say they felt safe dating online than Black, Hispanic and Asian adults.
More U.S. women (57 percent) than men (41 percent) say dating apps are not an entirely safe way to meet people. Older daters are more skeptical in general when it comes to the safety of dating online. What could make the experience safer? The vast majority of users of all demographics think apps should require background checks to create an online dating profile.
It’s not just other people worried about safety, though. Dating apps are rife with bots and scams, specifically romance scams where someone poses as a potential romantic partner to get money. Men report being targeted by dating-app scams more often than women.