There aren’t plenty of fish in the sea—at least not new or honest ones — no matter what PlentyOfFish tells you. A new Pew report found that more than a third of online daters in the United States have been matched with or come across the profile of someone they already know. And more than half felt like someone else had “seriously misrepresented themselves in their profile.” Even though attitudes towards online dating have become more charitable, a tenth of those who use dating sites and apps themselves think it’s a mark of desperation.
It’s not all liars and self-loathing. Nearly a tenth of Americans have now used online dating sites, and the number of users has tripled since 2008. Factor in the people using apps like Tinder, and the online dating pool has expanded nearly four times in the past five years. And something must be working: A tenth of American partnerships formed in the past 10 years are the result of online dating. And though only 11% all Americans use dating sites and apps, among single people the percentage rises to robust 38%.
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It still takes effort finding someone though. Whittle out the weirdos, the people you already know, and the ones who don’t really want to be there and you may just find yourself out with one of the 25% of people who “just want to have fun without being in a serious relationship.” Yet the odds of finding some “for a long-term relationship or marriage” are better; that’s why every second online dater claims to be there. We may also be witnessed a shift away from dating sites and towards more informal ways of meeting people online, especially among younger people. Pew reports a small number of people using social networking sites to be introduced to friends of friends, an old-fashioned way of using new-fangled technology.
And just as first encounters are mediated through the screens, so too are last ones. One in six Americans report that a relationship has ended through email, instant messaging or text message. The number using sad emoticons was unknown.