Dating is changing.
The rise of the internet—and especially the smartphone—has changed the rules of the game. As relationships move online, people are finding new ways to connect with each other.
The Steamy Stats
Online dating has exploded in popularity over the last few years. Pew Research Center conducts periodic polls on the subject. In the most recent poll, 15% of American adults reported using a mobile dating app or dating website.
Not surprisingly, the age 18–24 age group was the fastest-growing demographic, nearly tripling since the poll in 2013. What is surprising is that the 55–64 age group was not far behind—the percent of people in this group that used online dating sites and apps increased from 9% to 15%, making the total number of online dating users in this age group 28%.
On top of that, 3% of people age 65 and older reported using some form of online dating in 2015. And keep in mind, these numbers are over a year old now—many people in the 55–64 age group are now likely 65 or older and bring their tech smarts with them into the new bracket. They’re finding a lot of ways to add technology into their dating lives, too.
Let’s look at a few ways technology and the internet have changed the game.
You Have a Larger Pool of Candidates
The rise of online dating sites has created a much larger pool of candidates. In the past, you were mostly limited to friends and friends of friends when looking for a partner, but thanks to the internet you can connect with potential matches on the other side of the globe in an instant.
People that would have never even met a few years ago are now forming meaningful relationships thanks to services like Match.com, eHarmony, Tinder, and other dating apps and websites.
You Can Pre-Screen Your Dates
Online services have made it easier to avoid awkward first dates by letting you filter out incompatible candidates before you ever meet them. Tinder lets you decide who you’re interested in and then only matches you with someone who also expressed interest in you, while eHarmony uses a 400-question survey to match you with compatible people based on your responses.
However, some argue that this method is not actually an improvement over “traditional” dating. In fact, Tinder has drawn some flak for encouraging people to be shallow and judge others solely on their looks. Plenty of people form successful relationships from Tinder matches, though, so there is at least a little something to the idea of pre-screening online before meeting in person.
You Can Stay Home If You Want
The safety of the screen can make dating easier for those who prefer staying home to going out. These apps let you find someone who shares your interests and then strike up a conversation from anywhere—no need to get dressed up, go out, and approach someone you’ve never met.
Make sure you’re honest with your potential partners, though. One survey found that 53% of people lie on their online dating profiles. The most common areas people stretch the truth are age, height, weight, and income. More than 40% of men lied about their jobs to seem more successful. Keep your profile honest and you’re more likely to be matched with someone that you are actually compatible with.
You Can Have a Successful Long-Distance Relationship
Despite the common advice that long-distance relationships never work, the internet has helped many couples maintain successful long-distance relationships. In the United States alone, millions of people consider themselves in long-distance relationships. Advances in online communication have made dealing with distance much easier. Apps like Skype and FaceTime let you spend virtual quality time with your partner whenever you want, and the advanced cameras on smartphones make video chatting even easier. Couples no longer need to go weeks or months without seeing each other.
Long-distance relationships aren’t just for college kids, either. Many couples live apart due to work commutes or job transfers. And we can’t forget about our military men and women—deployments can keep couples separated for extended periods of time, and Skype sessions are often the only contact they have.
In many ways, these technological changes in dating culture revolve around ease. Technology has made it easier to find potential partners. It’s now easier to stay in touch, and easier to land that first date. What technology can’t make easier is building a lasting relationship. That one’s on you!