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Online Dating: First comes love

(To celebrate February’s Valentine’s Day, we’re taking a look at online dating and the massive – and increasingly social – industry that it’s become. First in a three-part series.) 


Meet Kelly and Bill.

Two years ago, both were single and looking for a mate in Virginia. They kept their eyes peeled for a partner through the traditional method of living, looking, and hoping. Finally, they met through 

They listed themselves for the same reasons: Their friends were coupled up, they weren’t interested in meeting anyone at a bar, and their jobs didn’t allow much opportunity to meet members of the opposite sex. 

So it started with an online wink. After several emails, Kelly and Bill exchanged phone numbers. A couple of hours-long conversations later, it became apparent that an in-person meeting might be in order.

The rest is history. They’re now engaged.

You probably have seen TV commercials of stories just like this. And the dating sites – Match, eHarmony, and Chemistry, to name a few – all tout great success in linking the unlinked. For mobile singles, dating apps to compliment the sites are growing by leaps and bounds. (We’ll cover apps in a later post.)

There are 105 million singles in the US, representing one-third of the population. 

A new study by Dallas-based in conjunction with the Institute for Evolutionary Studies at Binghamton University, biological anthropologist Helen Fisher, and social historian Stephanie Coontz finds today’s singles defy gender and age stereotypes and are adopting new dating habits. Full study results can be viewed here:

Study highlights: 

  •  Singles are not desperate to marry and have children.  Seventy-two percent of singles would live with someone in  the future without marrying.  
  •  Men are quicker to fall in love and more likely to want children. Fifty-four percent of men say they have  experienced love at first sight versus 44 percent of women.
  •  Women want more independence in their relationships. Across every age group, women want more personal space  in a committed relationship, as well as more nights out with their friends. They also are more likely to want their  own bank account and take vacations on their own.
  •  Both single women and men have adopted more progressive attitudes toward gender roles.  Eighty-seven percent  of women say they would pick up the check on a date under some circumstances, and 85 percent of women  believe it’s possible to have a successful career and relationship at the same time.
  •  Fidelity is a must. Sixty-nine percent of singles regard fidelity as a must have, and in the case of 46 percent of  the singles, either one or both partners have been unfaithful, and 78 percent broke up after the discovery.

 “Today’s singles are returning to dating patterns that are highly compatible with our ancient human brain … with a few remarkable exceptions: Men are now expressing some traditionally female attitudes while women are adopting some of those long attributed to men,” Fisher said, in a release.

Even Santa Monica, Calif.-based eHarmony reached many important company milestones over the past year. You can view its 2009 Marriage Metrics study here:

Research by Harris Interactive for eHarmony found that on average 542 eHarmony members marry every day in the US. The company also launched in Brazil and opened a Tokyo office to support the launch of eHarmony Japan.

Socially, eHarmony launched mobile apps for iOS and Android devices, which now account for about 20 percent of global site visits. The company reports that consumers now look at eHarmony profiles more than 16,000 times every hour on mobile devices.

Next week, we’ll look at the reach of social media and online dating.

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