May 12, 2020

Finding Love Online Remains (For Now) Largely for the Young

While online dating becomes more popular, the median age of people who met their partners online is 15 years younger than that of couples who met other ways

Americans are increasingly looking for love online. Today, 3 in 10 Americans (30%) say they have used an online dating site or app at least once, and about a quarter (23%) have gone on a date with someone they met online.

However, according to a Pew Research Center analysis, there is a large age gap between those who find “The One” through online dating and those who find love through other means. The center’s analysis of 2017 survey data from Stanford University shows that the median age of people who met their partners online was 36, compared to 51 among those who met their partners another way.

36

The median age of people
who met their spouse or long-term partner online
VS

51

The median age of people
who met their spouse or long-term partner another way

Why are larger shares of young people finding love online? Perhaps a generation that grew up bonding with friends via texts and playing virtual online video games would be more comfortable dating online than those who spent much of their lives interacting with people in person or via telephone.

But it could also be because online dating hasn’t yet been widely adopted by older Americans. While a 2019 Pew Research Center analysis shows that almost half (48%) of 18- to-29-year-olds have ever used a dating site or app, that share drops to 16% among those 50 and older. Concerns about safety are more widely held by older Americans — a majority of those 50 and older say that dating websites or apps were a “not too or not at all” safe way to meet people, compared with 38% of those age 18 to 29 who say the same.

The times might be changing, though, as the share of users who are 65 or older and use dating websites has quadrupled from 3% in 2013 to 13% in 2019.

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