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For as long as romantic relationships have existed, people have sought assistance in meeting potential partners using whatever options were at their disposal.
Matchmaking and arranged marriages have existed for centuries, and printed personal are nearly as old as the newspaper industry itself. More recently, technological developments from the VCR to the pre-internet era personal computer have been enlisted, with varying degrees of success, in an effort to connect people with romantic partners.
As these sites have evolved in the ensuing years, they have typically assumed one of two forms.
More recently, a third model has emerged in the form of cell phone dating apps. The rise of tech-enabled dating help has been one of the most striking developments of the digital era, and these alternative ways of meeting and mating have arisen at a time of fundamental change in the structure of marriage and divorce in America. Americans are also waiting until later in life to get marriedand other living arrangements—such as cohabitation, single person households, and single parenthood—have grown more common in recent decades.
30% of u.s. adults say they have used a dating site or app. a majority of online daters say their overall experience was positive, but many users – particularly younger women – report being harassed or sent explicit messages on these platforms
At the same time, marriage still holds wide appeal for those who have not tied the knot. Research into whether online dating actually produces more successful relationships or romantic outcomes than conventional offline dating is generally inconclusive, although these sites clearly offer a qualitatively different experience compared with traditional dating.
At the same time, the broader technological environment has changed dramatically since our last survey on this subject, and this has greatly impacted the ways in which people can seek out, research, meet, and interact with potential partners.
The first change involves mobile technologies, particularly smartphones.
When we conducted our first study of online dating, the release of the iPhone was still two years in the future. Today more than half of all American adults are smartphone owners, and dating—like many other aspects of modern life—is increasingly conducted on the go. The online dating sites that we studied in continue to exist and play a prominent role, but are now supplemented by mobile apps from which users can do everything from browsing profiles to setting up real-time dates from the comfort of their smartphones.
Watch: how to go on a virtual date during the coronavirus pandemic
The second major change involves the widespread adoption of social networking sites. InMySpace was the dominant player in the social networking field, Facebook was not yet open to the entire public, and Twitter did not exist. Today roughly three-quarters of online adults use sites such as Facebook and Twitter, and the impact of these online social networks on the dating process is potentially profound. Chapter One of this report looks specifically at online dating sites and dating apps.
Chapter Two looks more broadly at the online dating environment, and updates certain key trends from our study—such as how many relationships begin online, or how many people have flirted with someone online. And Chapter Three examines how people are using social networking sites and cell phones to navigate the world of dating and relationships.
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Throughout this report, we will refer to several different types of Americans based on their current relationship status and whether or not they are actively seeking a partner at the moment. In particular, much of the analysis will focus on one or more the following groups:. Additional demographic details of each group can be found in the Appendix at the end of this report.
A large portion of the behaviors and attitudes we examined in this survey have broad applicability to adults of all kinds, and as a result were asked of everyone regardless of their relationship status.
Facts are more important than ever
Throughout this report, we will refer to these two groups collectively as people with recent dating experience. For those questions asked only of those with recent dating experience, we excluded people in longer-term relationships because technology was almost by definition not part of their dating lives. Someone who has been married since the early s has obviously not broken up with someone via text messaging, for example.
Around half of this group is widowed, divorced, or separated, and we did not wish to subject those individuals to undue stress or force them to rehash bad relationship experiences.
In times of uncertainty, good decisions demand good data. Please support our research with a financial contribution.
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About Pew Research Center Pew Research Center is a nonpartisan fact tank that informs the public about the issues, attitudes and trends shaping the world. It conducts public opinion polling, demographic research, media content analysis and other empirical social science research. Pew Research Center does not take policy positions. It is a subsidiary of The Pew Charitable Trusts. Home U. Main More. A note on relationship status groups analyzed in this report Throughout this report, we will refer to several different types of Americans based on their current relationship status and whether or not they are actively seeking a partner at the moment.
Finkel, E. Facts are more important than ever In times of uncertainty, good decisions demand good data.
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