“Our real-life and online identities are more and more interwoven.” Because of this cultural shift, online dating sites now have unprecedented reach into our lives. Reams have been written about online dating, but as far as we know, no one has put the sites to the test.
They are gatekeepers to a massive population of potential partners; they control who we meet and how. So Consumer Reports decided to survey almost 115,000 subscribers about online dating and their experiences with it.
Online dating is different from shopping for, say, a sweater, he explains: “Once you decide on the sweater you want, you can get it.
A whopping 44 percent of respondents who tried online dating said the experience led to a serious long-term relationship or marriage.
That kind of connection rate would shatter Hall of Fame records, at least in baseball.
Collectively, we spend huge sums of money on matchmaking, not to mention all the time and substantial emotional investment. Given that we usually rate products (like refrigerators) and services (like banking), this is new and fairly unusual territory for us.
But as we explored the possibility of taking on this investigation, we discovered that 20 percent of our subscribers are either divorced or have never married, and might benefit from what we found.
According to a 2015 study by the Pew Research Center, 15 percent of American adults have used online dating sites (web-based platforms like Match.com) and/or dating apps (location-based smartphone apps like Tinder).
Participation by those 18 to 24 has almost tripled since 2013, and boomer enrollment has doubled.
Our survey included many people who at some point had used a dating website or an app, as well as a subset of 9,600 respondents who used them in the past two years.
The more recently active group rated specific sites. On the one hand, the numbers indicate that these sites are helping people find mates.
And we found that the free sites generally did marginally better than the paid ones, presumably because they offer a better value.
“You’re generally going to be best off starting your search on the ‘Big 3’: Match.com, Ok Cupid, and Plenty of Fish,” says Scott Valdez, founder of Virtual Dating Assistants, which helps people write their profiles and then manages their accounts.
Perhaps that’s why, among those who said they had used multiple dating sites, 28 percent had tried four or more.