No doubt about it, 2017 was one for the history books. From the inauguration of Donald Trump to the casting of Beyoncé in the new live-action The Lion King—this year has been a doozy.
For me, the end of the year is a time for reflection and resolutions. It’s a time to look back at where we’ve been and think about where we’re going. So, in that spirit, now’s a good time to take a look at online dating’s report card and see how singles fared in a rapidly changing dating scene.
Although online dating sometimes gets mixed reviews, no one can deny that dating sites and apps have become a major part of single life, and they’re not going away anytime soon. You don’t have to take my word for it, though, because the numbers speak for themselves. Take a look at the following noteworthy online dating statistics that made headlines this year and changed the way we view online dating.
1. 19% of Brides Said They Met Their Spouses Online
In 2017, online dating became the most common way for newlyweds to meet one another. The Knot surveyed more than 14,000 engaged or recently married individuals and reported that 19% of brides said they met their spouses online. This is a significant increase from the 5% of American couples who said they met online in a 2015 Pew Research poll. According to the Knot, meeting via dating sites has now surpassed more traditionally popular venues, including through friends (17%), during college (15%), and at work (12%). As time goes by and more happy couples decide to tie the knot, we can probably expect further increases in the percentage of married couples who met by swiping right.
2. Annual Revenue in the Online Dating Industry Has Surpassed $3 Billion
Online dating has been around for decades, but it’s really taken off in recent years. Partly because it’s gone mobile. Many of today’s best dating apps have seen exponential growth in online activity and revenue as more and more singles seek fast connections. Millions of people have now invested their time and money into online dating, which has become a mainstream solution for singles around the world. In early 2017, online dating became a $3 billion dollar industry. Yeah, billion. It’s a pretty big deal. Dating services, half of which are dating apps or websites, employed around 9,500 people worldwide and have collectively seen an annual growth rate of +5.3% in the past five years.
3. Couples Who Meet Online Tend to Get Married Quickly
Online daters don’t show up on a dating site by accident. They come there with a purpose — whether it’s to woo a date for the night or to find a partner for the rest of their lives— and they often don’t want to waste time. So it may come as no surprise that sociological scientists see a trend of heterosexual couples meeting online and quickly popping the question. According to one longitudinal study, couples who meet online tend to get married much sooner in their relationships than couples who meet offline. Dating websites often fast track committed relationships because when two compatible people meet and discover they want the same things, there’s no reason to hit the brakes.
4. Online Marriages are Less Likely to End Within the First Year
We all know dating sites are fast ways to meet people. You can start chatting with someone online within minutes, so it’s easy to pigeonhole online dating as a tool for superficial hookups and not relationships. But, actually, personal compatibility algorithms work exceedingly well and yield great results for relationship-minded users. Recent evidence suggests that dating sites facilitate more diverse and longer lasting connections between online users. Economists Josué Ortega and Philipp Hergovich investigated the long-term effects of online dating and demonstrated that the high-tech dating environment has contributed to “a sharp increase in interracial marriages in the US in the last two decades.” Those marriages are also less likely to break up within the first year.
Plus, when the University of Chicago surveyed nearly 20,000 people between 2005 and 2012, researchers concluded that those who met their spouses online expressed more marital satisfaction than those who met their spouses through more traditional avenues offline.
5. Some Dating Networks May Have Contributed to a Rise in STD Outbreaks
Of course, it isn’t all wedding bells and happily ever afters. Online dating also has a dark side, especially in the world of hookups. When you make it easier for strangers to solicit sex, sometimes there are some not-so-nice consequences. I’m talking, unfortunately, about STDs. Some health experts have linked the rise of fast-paced dating apps, most notably Tinder and Grindr, with a corresponding spike in cases of syphilis, gonorrhea, and HIV. Correlation doesn’t prove causation, but it’s something to keep an eye on in the future.
6. Half of British Singles Have Never Asked Someone on a Date Face to Face
In some ways, online dating is a crutch for singles who feel uncomfortable or fearful about talking to their crushes in person. It’s much less intimidating to communicate with a date online because you don’t have to look the person in the eye and put your heart on the line. Over half of British single adults surveyed by The Sun admitted they’ve never asked a date out in person, and 46% said they’ve never dumped anyone in person. While online communication can make those tough conversations feel more pleasant, at some point, you’re going to have to talk to your date in person.
Online Dating Has Come a Long Way, But There’s Always Room to Grow and Improve
In 2017, we survived hurricanes, political scandals, and Taylor Swift albums, and we grew online dating into one of the largest industries around. I think that’s cause for celebration. Even if we don’t always agree on everything, at least we can all come together in an online space and judge each other’s bathroom selfies.
If you look at the stats, it’s encouraging to see so how many people are now going online to seek out that special someone. Today’s singles benefit from advanced search features, online verification tools, and international dating networks, so they have more dating options than ever before. Whether you’re after a short-term date or a long-term relationship, dating sites and apps have proven remarkably effective at pairing up like-minded people. All in all, the future looks bright for online dating, which can only be good news for singles out there.
Hayley Matthews is editor-in-chief at DatingAdvice.com, a site that features advice from more than 250 dating coaches, matchmakers, relationship experts, psychologists, and journalists. In addition to providing advice articles, how-to guides, studies, and in-depth profiles, the site also provides reviews of the top online dating apps. When Hayley isn’t writing about dating and relationships, she’s listening to The Beatles or watching Harry Potter movies.