Online dating has made what once seemed like a foreign concept for many – striking up a conversation with someone they have never met on the internet – a part of life for some Americans. The online dating industry, which has existed for several decades, has transformed the processes by which some adults find potential matches. However, Americans’ experiences with these apps and sites vary widely across groups.
About half of adults under 30 have used a dating site or app
Three-in-ten Americans say they have ever used a dating site or dating app, which is identical to the share who said this in 2019.
However, there are wide differences by age. For example, adults under 30 are far more likely than older adults to have ever used one of these sites or apps. The current survey finds that 53% of adults ages 18 to 29 say they have done so, compared with 37% of those ages 30 to 49. Smaller shares of those ages 50 to 64 (20%) and 65 and older (13%) say the same.
These shares also vary widely by sexual orientation: 51% of lesbian, gay or bisexual (LGB) Americans say they have ever used a dating site or app, compared with 28% of those who are straight.
Men are also more likely than women to have ever used a dating site or app, as are adults living in urban areas versus those from rural or suburban areas. In contrast, similar shares of White, Black, Hispanic or Asian adults report ever using an online dating platform.
As in previous Center studies, those who have never been married are more likely than those who are married to have experience with online dating. Some 52% of those who describe themselves as never having been married have used dating sites or apps at some point; this is greater than the shares of those who describe themselves as married or divorced, separated or widowed who say the same.
Online dating users who are under 30 or LGB are particularly likely to say they’ve been on a dating site or app in the last year
Among those who have ever used a dating site or app, 15% are current online dating users while another 16% are not currently using these platforms but have done so in the past year, according to the July survey.
As is the case with those who have ever used these platforms, there are demographic differences among online dating users in recency of use. Online dating users ages 18 to 29 are particularly likely to have been active on these platforms within the past year compared with their older counterparts, as are LGB users compared with straight users.
While there are no racial or ethnic differences in having ever used dating sites or apps, Hispanic online dating users are more likely than White or Black online dating users to be a current or recent user of these platforms.
What about those who are actively looking for connection? About one-in-ten Americans (13%) are “single and looking” – that is, they are looking for casual dates or a committed romantic relationship (and are not married, living with a partner or in a committed romantic relationship). Of this group, 45% have used a dating site or app within the past year, including 28% who were currently using one at the time of the July 2022 survey. These shares are statistically unchanged from 2019.
The shares of “single and looking” Americans who are current or recent online dating users vary by gender and age. Among this group, men are more likely than women to have used a dating site or app in the past year (50% vs. 37%). About half of adults under 50 who are single and looking (53%) are using a dating site or app currently or have in the past year. This is roughly twice the share of single and looking adults ages 50 and older who are current or recent online daters (26%).
Just 3% of those who are single but not currently looking for either casual dates or a committed romantic relationship are currently using a dating site or app. And 62% say they have never used one.
Adults under 30 are roughly five times more likely than older adults to have ever used Tinder
With over a thousand online dating platforms available, adults who want to find matches online have a variety of sites and apps to choose from. This survey asked specifically about eight dating apps and sites and allowed people to provide the names of other platforms they have used.
Among Americans overall, Tinder leads the pack: 14% of U.S. adults say they have ever used this. Next is Match (with 9% of adults having ever used this), followed by Bumble (8%), OkCupid (6%), eharmony (6%), Hinge (6%), Grindr (2%) and HER (1%).
Some dating platforms are especially popular among certain age groups. Adults ages 18 to 29 are more likely than any other group to say they have used Tinder (42%), Bumble (27%) or Hinge (21%). Some 8% of adults 30 and older have used Tinder, 4% have used Bumble and 2% have used Hinge. On the other hand, adults 30 to 49 and 50 to 64 are roughly twice as likely as older or younger adults to say they have ever used Match.
There are also differences in platform use by sexual orientation: 26% of LGB adults say they have used Tinder versus 12% of straight adults. Roughly a third of LGB men have ever used Grindr, making it one of the most common dating apps or sites among LGB men. LGB women, on the other hand, are more likely to have used HER compared with other demographic groups explored in this analysis. Some 8% of LGB women have used the platform, which describes itself as a space to “connect with queer women and gender diverse people.” Still, Tinder reigns as the most commonly cited dating app for LGB women.
With such a diverse array of online dating platforms on the market, some adults have tried multiple sites and apps in their search. About one-in-ten U.S. adults (12%) have used just one, while an additional 8% have used two and 9% of U.S. adults have used three or more dating apps or sites. This is more common among adults under 30 compared with older adults: Roughly one-fifth of 18- to 29-year-olds (22%) have used three or more platforms while just 7% of adults 30 and older have done this.
And given that the world of dating apps is vast, 9% of adults name sites not listed above. Plenty of Fish is the most commonly cited platform among this group (3% of all Americans mention having used it). Small shares of respondents also name Facebook or Facebook Dating, Coffee Meets Bagel, Christian Mingle and OurTime, among others (see the topline for a list of other platforms respondents mention having used).
One-in-ten partnered adults first met their significant other on a dating site or app
Even as some adults are using dating platforms, the question remains whether they are a viable way to find a long-term partner. Roughly seven-in-ten U.S. adults (69%) are currently partnered – that is, they describe themselves as married, living with a partner or in a committed romantic relationship. Of these partnered adults, 10% first met their current spouse or partner on a dating site or app, amounting to 7% of all Americans.
Partnered 18- to 29-year-olds are the most likely age group to have met their current significant other on an online dating platform, with one-in-five adults in that age group saying they met their partner through dating apps or sites.
LGB adults in committed relationships are also especially likely to have met their current partner on a dating site or app compared with straight partnered adults (24% vs. 9%).
Meeting long-term partner, casual dating more often cited as major reasons for using online dating in past 12 months than casual sex
The survey asked those who have used dating sites or apps within the past year about four different reasons for doing so. Greater shares of these users report that they use these sites in the hopes of meeting a long-term partner or spouse or dating casually, compared with other reasons: About three-quarters of U.S. adults who have used a dating site or app in the past year say each of these is at least a minor reason they have used these platforms in that time. Some 44% of current or recent users say meeting a long-term partner is a major reason they have used them and 40% say the same for dating casually.
Smaller shares of users go on online dating platforms for other reasons. About a quarter of current or recent online dating users say that having casual sex or making new friends are each major reasons they use these sites or apps.
However, these reasons are not mutually exclusive. For example, 19% of current or recent online dating users say that both casual dating and finding a long-term partner are major reasons they have used these platforms in the past year. And 6% say the same about both casual sex and finding a long-term partner.
Among those who are currently using or have recently used a dating site or app, similar proportions of men and women cite finding a long-term partner or casually dating as major reasons for using these platforms. However, men in this group are far more likely than women to say having casual sex is a major reason for online dating in the past 12 months (31% vs. 13%). LGB men who are current or recent online dating users are somewhat more likely to cite casual sex as a major reason for online dating versus straight men or women of any sexuality. LGB men who are current or recent users are also slightly more likely than straight men to say making new friends is a major reason for being on these dating platforms.
People’s major reasons for using online sites or apps over the past 12 months do not differ by age. Similar shares of current or recent online dating users under 50 and users 50 and older cite each of the four reasons the survey asked about as a major reason.
Some 35% of adults who have used a dating site or app have paid to use one
Some platforms cost money to use in the first place, while others charge for premium features such as unlimited messaging or the ability to see all matches. Roughly one-third (35%) of those who have used online dating platforms say they have ever paid to use one, including for extra features on that site or app.
Users 30 and older are more likely to have ever paid for these sites or apps. Among those who have ever used a dating site or app, roughly four-in-ten (41%) of those 30 and older have ever paid to use one, compared with 22% of those under 30.
When it comes to gender differences, men are more likely to have paid for online dating compared with women. Some 41% of men who have used dating sites or apps say they have paid to use one, compared with 29% of women online dating users.
Roughly four-in-ten straight online dating users say they have paid for dating apps, while a smaller share of their LGB counterparts say the same.
Income also relates to whether or not someone has paid for a dating app or site. Some 45% of users with upper incomes have done this, compared with 36% of users with middle incomes and 28% of users with lower incomes.
For online dating users, paying to use these sites, apps or their features is also associated with whether partnered users found their current relationship on the sites. Among partnered adults who have ever used a dating site, about half (52%) of those who have ever paid to use a site or its features met their current significant other via online dating, compared with 34% of non-paying partnered users.