Skip to main content

The Globe and Mail

The state of online dating: More common – and rude – than ever, study finds

One in six Americans has broken up with someone either online or via text message, a new study on online dating says.

The Pew Research Center study released Monday shows that, despite the fact that Americans have increasingly embraced online dating over the years, instances of bad behaviour (ranging from bad etiquette to much more serious actions, like harassment) on dating sites and apps are still relatively common.

Among Americans who have dated recently and who have access to the Internet or a cellphone, for example, 17 per cent admit to having broken up with someone electronically. Among younger groups (age 18 to 29), that number is even higher, at 22 per cent.

Story continues below advertisement

Related: Read an infographic on these statistics.

Americans reported other types of poor etiquette, too, with over half (54 per cent) of daters saying that someone they'd met online had "seriously misrepresented themselves in their profile."

More alarmingly, well over one-fifth of people say they have been harassed or made to feel uncomfortable through someone on a dating site.

That number is much higher for women and young people. 42 per cent of women say they've felt harassed by or uncomfortable with someone on a dating site, compared with just 17 per cent of men. And among young people, 41 per cent of people who use social-networking sites like Twitter or Facebook say they have had to block or "unfriend" someone who was making them feel uncomfortable.

The Pew survey compared answers given by over 2,200 adults rating their experiences on dating and social-networking sites. The results found that, in general, Americans are increasingly embracing online dating, and that the practice is quickly shedding its reputation as a last-resort for the desperate.

The majority of internet users (59 per cent) now view online dating as a positive thing, the study shows, a 15-point increase from a similar Pew survey conducted in 2005. At least 38 per cent of Americans "single and looking" told Pew researchers that they've used a dating site or mobile dating app.

Perhaps not surprisingly, the survey also showed that younger people (in particular, the 25-to-34 age range) are much more likely to use dating sites. It also showed that those with more education (at least some college), and making between $50,000 to $75,000 (U.S.), were most likely to date online.

Story continues below advertisement

Other findings from the Pew report:

Almost 1 in 5 Internet users (24 per cent) admit to having looked up an ex online, up from 11 per cent in 2005. That number is even higher amongst social-networking users, with nearly one-third of Americans saying they've checked up on someone they once dated.

Almost 1 in 5 online daters say they met their spouse or long-term boyfriend or girlfriend through online dating

Forty-one per cent of people in the United States know someone who has used online dating, up from 31 per cent in 2005

Over 1 in 5 online daters have asked someone else to help them with building their profile

Almost one-third of people have gone online to look up someone they are currently dating or about to go on a first date with.

Story continues below advertisement

The most common dating site is Match.com, just as it was in 2005. Other popular sites, according to the 2013 survey, are eHarmony, Plenty of Fish and OkCupid. Other sites that have dropped off the list since 2005? Yahoo Personals (which no longer exists) and MySpace.

Report an error Licensing Options
About the Author
National Food Reporter

Ann Hui is the national food reporter at The Globe and Mail. Previously, she worked as a national reporter and homepage editor for theglobeandmail.com and an online editor in News. More

Comments

The Globe invites you to share your views. Please stay on topic and be respectful to everyone. For more information on our commenting policies and how our community-based moderation works, please read our Community Guidelines and our Terms and Conditions.

We’ve made some technical updates to our commenting software. If you are experiencing any issues posting comments, simply log out and log back in.

Discussion loading… ✨

Combined Shape Created with Sketch.

Combined Shape Created with Sketch.

Thank you!

You are now subscribed to the newsletter at

You can unsubscribe from this newsletter or Globe promotions at any time by clicking the link at the bottom of the newsletter, or by emailing us at privacy@globeandmail.com.