THE BLOG
11/21/2015 01:21 am ET Updated Nov 20, 2016

7 Unromantic Facts About Online Dating

Do you remember ABC's television show The Dating Game? The format of the original series was simple: a bachelorette would have three minutes to ask the same set of questions to each of three hidden bachelors, and then select one bachelor as her "date" based strictly on their responses. Sometimes, the roles would be reversed, where a bachelor did the asking, while the bachelorettes did the answering.

A lot has changed since The Dating Game first aired back in 1965. Today, people have taken to the Internet to find their ideal date or mate.

If you've tried online dating, you've got lots of company. In March 2015, 49.25 million people had tried online dating in the U.S. Let's find out how popular online dating is, who's doing it, why they're doing it, and how people feel about it.

1. Online dating is a multibillion dollar industry.

The U.S. online dating market was worth $2.2 billion in 2014, a 3.5 percent per annum increase since 2008. Just as impressive is revenue growth in the mobile dating market, which is expected to grow from $340.4 million in 2015 to $415.3 million by 2017, according to Statista.com.

The online dating market has grown fiercely competitive. According to Forbes, over 2,500 online dating services are based in the United States, with roughly 8,000 competitors worldwide. About 1,000 new online dating services open each year.

2. As Internet usage has grown, so, too, has online dating.

Thanks to the Internet and social networking sites like Facebook, online dating has become an unstoppable juggernaut. Consider Match.com, an online dating industry pioneer. Match was launched in 1995. Around that time, only 14 percent of American adults were internet users. Today, about 95 percent of Americans, or 304.1 million people, are online, and many are surfing the Web for dates and mates. According to The New York Times, 11 percent of American adults have enrolled in an online dating service.

3. Online dating sites and dating apps enjoy widespread popularity, and not just among young adults.

If you're a baby boomer, you're just as likely to be an online dater as a young adult. According to Pew Research Center's Internet Project, 10 percent of 18-to-24-year-olds and 8 percent of 45-to-54-year-olds have done online dating. Researchers explain that middle-aged adults represent a "thin dating market"--in other words, dating prospects are slim within their immediate social circles.

4. Most people use online dating sites or mobile dating apps to improve their dating prospects and vet their dates.

According to an online survey, U.S. singles said the main advantages of online dating are to "expand my dating pool" (94 percent) and "allows me to pre-screen my dates" (93 percent), according to Statistia.com.

Other common reasons for using online dating sites or apps include "meeting people who share similar interests or hobbies" (60 percent); "meeting people who share your beliefs or values" (52 percent); "finding someone for a long-term relationship or marriage" (46 percent); and "having a schedule that makes it hard to meet interesting people in other ways" (33 percent), according to a Pew report.

5. Most people know an online dater or someone who used online dating to find a spouse or to form a serious relationship.

If you're not an online dater, you probably know someone who is. According to a Pew survey, almost half (42 percent) of Americans know an online dater, while slightly more than a quarter (29 percent) know someone who found a spouse or formed a long-term relationship through online dating.

6. Online daters have a better chance of meeting their match online, although most people still pair bond offline.

While cyber courtships are on the rise, most people still meet their mate or partner offline. Only 5 percent of people who are married or in a committed relationship met their significant other online. However, the mating paradigm is shifting: the share of Internet users who met their mate online has doubled, from 3 percent in 2005 to 6 percent in 2010.

Two thirds (66 percent) of online daters have gone on a date with someone they met through a dating site or app, while almost a quarter (23 percent) of them met their significant other through these channels, according to an article entitled "Online Dating & Relationships."

7. Observers are split on their attitudes and perceptions toward online dating.

According to a Psychology Today article, the idea that people who use online dating sites are "desperate" is wrong. This perception is probably a remnant of an early stigma attached to online dating. Yet, some people still thumb their noses at online dating. Survey findings show that about quarter (21 percent) of Americans believe that online dating is for the desperate. On the flip side, about 85 percent of single Americans believe that online dating is socially acceptable.

A new review of online dating found that "dating sites may warp a person's outlook and expectations in ways that can actually lower the chances of building a successful relationship," a CNN article reported. One of the coauthors of the review said, "Online dating creates a shopping mentality, and that is probably not a particularly good way to go about choosing a mate."

Plenty of people think online dating is a total waste of time. Even so, judging by a marriage survey sponsored by Match.com, the odds-on chance of meeting Mr. or Ms. Right online is significantly better than finding him or her in a bar, at a club, or elsewhere.

In a follow-up blog post, we'll take a look at the scarier side of online dating: dating and romance scams.

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