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One in ten Americans have used an online dating site or mobile dating app themselves, and many people now know someone else who uses online dating or who has found a spouse or long-term partner via online dating.

General public attitudes towards online dating have become much more positive in recent years, and social networking sites are now playing a prominent role when it comes to navigating and documenting romantic relationships.

We refer to these individuals throughout this report as “online daters,” and we define them in the following way: Taken together, 11% of all American adults have done one or both of these activities and are classified as “online daters.” In terms of demographics, online dating is most common among Americans in their mid-20’s through mid-40’s.

Some 22% of 25-34 year olds and 17% of 35-44 year olds are online daters.

These are among the key findings of a national survey of dating and relationships in the digital era, the first dedicated study of this subject by the Pew Research Center’s Internet Project since 2005.

One in every ten American adults has used an online dating site or a mobile dating app.

Moving beyond dates, one quarter of online daters (23%) say that they themselves have entered into a marriage or long-term relationship with someone they met through a dating site or app.

And more seriously, 28% of online daters have been contacted by someone through an online dating site or app in a way that made them feel harassed or uncomfortable.This question was asked of everyone in a marriage or other long-term partnership, including many whose relationships were initiated well before meeting online was an option.Looking only at those committed relationships that started within the last ten years, 11% say that their spouse or partner is someone they met online.Online dating is also relatively popular among the college-educated, as well as among urban and suburban residents.And 38% of Americans who are single and actively looking for a partner have used online dating at one point or another.In addition, people who have used online dating are significantly more likely to say that their relationship began online than are those who have never used online dating.Fully 34% of Americans who are in a committed relationship and have used online dating sites or dating apps in the past say that they met their spouse or partner online, compared with 3% for those who have not used online dating sites.Even today, online dating is not universally seen as a positive activity—a significant minority of the public views online dating skeptically.At the same time, public attitudes towards online dating have grown more positive in the last eight years: Additionally, 32% of internet users agree with the statement that “online dating keeps people from settling down because they always have options for people to date.” This is the first time we have asked this question.In general, online daters themselves give the experience high marks.Some 79% of online daters agree that online dating is a good way to meet people, and 70% of them agree that it helps people find a better romantic match because they have access to a wide range of potential partners.

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  1. [...] While I have generalities of what I want from being in all the different relationship structures, I can certainly tell you that one size does NOT fit all. The relationship I want with one man is not exactly the same kind I'd want with another." —Zakh, 26 "I remember, after an extensive chat online, meeting someone in person, and they were nothing as they described.