Online dating in 2017 is, without a doubt, mainstream. Each and every day, millions of people use online dating services, but the truly remarkable thing is just how socially acceptable online dating has become.
Back in the early days of the internet, there were no online dating websites, but instead, there were chat rooms and message boards, where people would naturally find each other. Personals began to spring up on dedicated websites and as computer and networking technology improved, the first dating websites began to arrive.
Boasting pictures, full profiles, and computerized matching methods, they began to take hold. However, online dating was still held in the kind of snooty contempt that any truly game-changing technology is.
For the vast majority of those in the mid-to-late 90s, online dating was something that “lonely nerds” might do, the sort of thing that you’d have to be truly desperate in order to engage in. However, things would soon change.
Secretly, millions of people were joining online dating websites and as they found love and told their friends about it, the perception began to change, helped on by films like You’ve Got Mail, in which Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan fall in love via online dating.
Just a few years prior, websites like Match had launched, giving the new internet dating revolution a major focal point, backed by big advertising.
Whilst those websites were initially created to cater to everybody, it soon became clear that websites which catered towards specific niches could not only become popular and profitable but also make it easier for people to find love.
Dating websites designed for young people, business professionals, members of the LGBTQ community, mature singles and, well, just about anything you can imagine sprung up, offering specialist dating platforms. Indeed, today you’ll find hundreds of such sites, catering to every niche imaginable, alongside more traditional dating websites and apps which offered a broader platform.
Those are just the cultural changes that have taken place around online dating though, so let’s take a look at the raw, naked statistics.
In the US, there are approximately 54,350,000 million single people, and 49,650,000 of those have tried online dating at some point. Those numbers are astonishing, and they’re replicated all over the world, with the vast majority of people in countries with fast internet access giving online dating a spin.
These days, with such high levels of penetration amongst singles, new growth areas are of particular interest. Young adults are currently leading the surge in online dating, with usage among 18 to 24-year-olds tripling since a 2013 study, sitting at 22%. It’s long been theorized that online dating wouldn’t take off amongst the young because they have the free time and money to pursue relationships the old-fashioned way, but clearly, the appeal of online dating has overcome that hurdle.
Another huge area of growth is from the UK mature dating, specifically those aged between 55 and 64. Just 6% of this group had tried online dating in 2013, but that number has now doubled and continues to show no signs of stopping.
So, where does online dating go next? That’s tough to say, but with more singletons out there, there’s plenty of room for online dating to grow.