We hear a lot about online dating these days, from one source or another. We might hear from friends or co-workers about their experiences meeting up with online love interests, or we ourselves might have dabbled in the latest app to see what was going on. Indeed, the online dating world has rapidly morphed from a kind of fringe business to a multibillion dollar part of the commercial mainstream.
But who exactly is using these apps? Who are these users that are making app founders billionaires, and turning these dating platforms into companies that need to employ hundreds or even thousands of people to keep working? In this article, we’re going to try and find out!
Online Dating Broad Demographics and Key Data
For the purposes of today’s blog, we’ll be focusing on US statistics. One of our top sources is a key and comprehensive survey conducted by Pew Research back in October 2019. It will help us answer many of our most fundamental questions, along with supporting data from other sources.
In all, there are about 44.2 million Americans making use of online dating services, both website and app platforms. As of 2021, the global number was 270 million users. What’s interesting is that despite the wide proliferation of smartphones and the perception that apps are “taking over” everything we do, the split between app and website users when it comes to online dating is quite even. Among the 44.2 million total users of online dating in the US, about 26.6 million of those are smartphone dating app users.
According to Statista, the most popular online dating app in the US by audience size is Tinder, but the most popular app by usage sessions per month is the gay dating app, Grindr. Statista’s numbers also reveal that about 77 percent of online dating users actually go on real-world dates with people they meet online, about 54 percent of those same users are serious about finding an exclusive partner.
Let’s now take a closer look at the user demographics of dating sites and apps.
Who Uses Dating Sites and Apps the Most?
So, now we come to one of our key questions, who is using dating sites and apps the most? We know that users are roughly split down the middle when it comes to sites vs. apps, with the numbers skewed somewhat towards smartphone apps. But, who are the users? Let’s break it down in several different ways: gender, age group, sexual orientation, and education.
A total of 3 in 10 American adults said in the Pew Research study that they have used an online dating site or app. More specifically, it was 32 percent of US men, and 28 percent of US women. Other data from 2021-2022 shows that the 30-percent figure has since risen to about 40 percent.
As for the active user demographics, men make up more than half of the total user base, comprising 52.4 percent of the online dating population, where women occupy 47.6 percent. This level of overall close balance and parity is perhaps surprising to some, considering that on certain popular apps such as Tinder, men outnumber women on the app by a proportion of 2:1.
From the Pew Research data, we can see that among their respondents, those who answered positively to the question on having used a dating site/app before were mostly drawn from the 18-29 years age group, 48 percent of whom answered yes. Among other age groups, we saw the following:
- Age 30-49 — 38 percent said they had used a dating site/app before
- Age 50-64 — 19 percent said they have used a dating site/app before
- Age 65+ — 13 percent said they have used a dating site/app before
As for active users up to Q1, 2022, there are two age groups which dominate the online dating scene the most, namely 18-24, and and 30-44, who occupy 15 and 19 percent of the market share respectively.
Breaking down users by sexual orientation, the Pew data shows that members of the LGBT+ community are far more likely to say they have made use of a dating site or app than heterosexual individuals. In Pew’s survey, 55 percent of LGBT+ individuals said they had used a dating site or app, while only 28 percent of hetereosexual people said the same.
This perhaps isn’t surprising to many, since heterosexual people tend to be able to more comfortably meet potential partners by chance and through personal introductions, whereas LGBT+ individuals can be more wary about openly flirting with others, more often confining their meetings to online apps, as well as gay/lesbian bars and other events.
One more interesting aspect of online dating user demographics is education level, where the partially or fully college-educated population far outstrips those with a high school diploma or less. Pew’s data shows that just 22 percent of users with a high school diploma, GED or less said they’d used online dating before. Those with some college education numbered 35 percent, and the college educated also numbered 35 percent.
How Many Online Dating Users Either Married or Entered a Committed Relationship With People They Met Online?
Another interesting question concerning the online dating population is how many have married or found a serious relationship through those platforms. Unfortunately, while the numbers of marriages reported by companies like eHarmony and Match sound very encouraging, the overall proportions and wider data are less so.
Pew’s survey revealed that only about 1 in 10 US adults say they met someone online that they later either married or entered into a serious relationship with. Once again, however, those numbers are a bit better for the LGBT+ users, where 21 percent responded positively to that. It’s also more likely for younger people aged 18-29 to find relationships overall, as 17 percent responded positively to that query in Pew’s survey.
5 Other Interesting Facts About US Online Dating Users
1. More Than Half of People Lie On Their Dating Profile
It seems that among the users of online dating is also a healthy population of liars. A survey conducted by Opinionmatters shows that some 20 percent of women lied specifically about their age and made use of an older photo, while about 40 percent of men said they lied about their careers and salary.
Besides career and salary, another area in which most users — male and female — lie about is their height and weight. Men tended to say they were taller than they were, while women focused more on putting lighter weights. Interestingly, many men also revealed that they had to strike a balance in a fake weight: too light makes them look weedy, but too heavy makes them seem fat.
This is why it’s always advisable to take every bit of online profile information with a grain of salt!
2. About 6 in 10 Say Their Online Experience is Positive
Data from Pew Research shows that in spite of everything that can and does go wrong in online dating (see further below), about 57 percent of them had a positive experience overall. Among them, only about 14 percent enthusiastically say that their experience is very positive, while about 43 percent say it was somewhat positive.
The good news is that those describing their online dating experience as “very negative” was only 9 percent, while a further 34 percent said it was somewhat negative. It seems that education level once again also plays into how well an online dating experience goes., with about 63 percent of those with an undergraduate degree or higher saying they had a very or somewhat positive experience.
3. More Frustration Than Hope, But More Confidence Than Insecurity
Pew’s data also reveals interesting and even slightly paradoxical views about how online dating makes their users feel. When comparing specific descriptor pairings: Frustrated Vs. Hopeful; Pessimistic Vs. Optimistic; Insecure Vs. Confident, the two words on either side that emerged noticeably victorious were frustrated and confident.
About 45 percent of respondents said that their online dating experiences in the past year had made them feel frustrated overall, with only 28 percent saying that it left them feeling hopeful. However, at the same time, 32 percent of respondents also said that they felt confident during their online dates, with only 25 percent saying they felt insecure.
4. Younger Women Experience The Most Trouble in Online Dating
When it comes to experiencing trouble in online dating, it seems that the main demographic to feel it is younger women. When looking at virtually every common negative experience, Pew found that women experienced it far more often than men did. When breaking it down into age groups, it was the 18-34 years age group that felt it most keenly.
Pew included the following negative experiences (with percentage of women who said they’d reported experiencing these interactions)
- Continued to contact them after saying they were not interested (48% of women)
- Sent them a sexually explicit message or image they didn’t ask for (46% of women)
- Called them an offensive name (33% of women)
- Threatened to physically harm them (11% of women)
For each of these 4 negative experiences, the percentages of 18-34 year olds who experienced it were: 43 percent, 42 percent, 33 percent, and 13 percent respectively.
5. More Than Half View Online Relationships To Be As Strong As Conventional Ones
One more interesting question here is that of how people feel in general about online dating and the relationships they produce. Why does this matter? It matters because it can act as a strong insight into how online dating might continue to develop in the future.
For those thinking of investing in or creating more online dating platforms to try and capture market share in the future, the news is fairly good. Pew’s data shows that more than half of Americans — about 54 percent — said that relationships started on dating sites or apps are just as successful as those started by other means.
Another interesting statistic revealed here was that about 50 percent of Americans feel that online dating has neither a positive or negative effect on dating and relationships. That might feel like nothing much to celebrate, but when you add the 22 percent of people who think that online dating has made dating and relationships more positive, you end up with a majority of 72 percent of people who we can say it’s fair to assume think that online dating is fine, quite normal, and not a problem for individuals to pursue.
Therefore, it seems as though online dating apps and sites are not just some flash in the pan kind of industrial fad. As long as there are enough single people to use them, it seems these platforms will continue to flourish, though in exactly what form remains a mystery.