What are Americans looking for on dating apps?

Jamie BallardData Journalist
June 07, 2021, 1:00 PM GMT+0

Everyone is looking for love, and some are turning to dating apps and websites to help them find it.  

New data from YouGov finds that one in 11 Americans (9%) say they’re currently using dating apps, and another 28% say they have done so in the past. Millennials (17%) are far more likely than Gen X’ers (9%) and Baby Boomers (3%) to say they’re currently using dating apps/websites. Similarly, they’re also more likely to have used them in the past, even if they aren’t doing do currently (39% of Millennials vs 30% of Gen X and 17% of Baby Boomers).  

Among those Americans who say they are single and looking for a partner, about one-third (32%) say they’re currently using dating apps/websites.  

Why do people use dating apps?  

Among those who use or have used dating apps/websites, the most common reason for doing so is to find an exclusive romantic partner (54%). Women (59%) are more likely than men (50%) to cite this as a reason. 

About one-third (34%) say they’re on the apps because they want to have something fun/interesting to do, and 26% say they’re using the apps/websites to have casual sex. Men (36%) are more than twice as likely as women (14%) to say they’re using dating apps for casual sex.  

Women on dating apps/websites are more likely than men to say they’re there to see what the app is like (28% of women vs 18% of men), boost their self-esteem (23% vs 14%) or find someone for a friend (22% vs 14%).  

A relatively small number of Americans using dating apps (6%) say they are using them in hopes of cheating on their significant other. One in 11 (9%) men cite this as a reason for being on the apps, while fewer women (3%) say the same.  

Many dating app users have successfully started relationships by using the apps - but some are embarrassed about it  

Most who have ever used apps have entered into a committed relationship as a result (62%), including 28% who have kindled relationships on more than one occasion through the service. 

 
Although meeting a partner through a dating app or website is fairly common these days, some people still feel embarrassed about it.  

Among dating app users who have ever been in a relationship that started via app, 60% have felt embarrassed to tell people that they met their partner this way. Of these, 29% say they still would be embarrassed to share this information, while 31% say they would not be.  Two in five (38%) say they haven’t felt embarrassed to share this information.  

Women are more likely than men to say they would prefer to meet someone offline  

Although dating apps have their benefits – like convenience and the ability to converse before going on a date – many Americans would still prefer to meet someone offline.  
 
Close to half (47%) of Americans say that if they were single and dating, they would prefer to meet a romantic partner without using a dating app or website. Just 12% state a preference for meeting someone through a dating app, and 25% say they have no preference.  

Among those who have used or are using dating apps, there is more interest in meeting through a dating app or website. One-quarter (26%) say they would prefer to meet this way, although far more (41%) say they’d like to meet someone without using an app. Women who have experience on the dating apps/websites (47%) are more likely than men (35%) who have used the apps to say they’d prefer to meet through other means.  

See full results here

Related: A quarter of Americans are interested in having an open relationship

Methodology: Total sample size was 1,260 US adults ages 18+, including 462 who have ever used dating apps. Fieldwork was undertaken between May 27 – 28, 2021. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of US respondents ages 18+.  

Image: Gender Spectrum Collection  
 

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