Did you know that 40% of U.S. adults use online dating websites to search for romantic connections?
That’s almost half of the country!
The hunt for romantic connection has evolved with history. From personal ads found in publications as early as the 1700s to today’s online-centric world of dating, humans have always sought out companionship through a third party.
In fact, of the 40% of Americans who have tried online dating, 12% claim to have either married or maintained serious relationships with the partners whom they first met online. This percentage is on the rise, as research on the same subject was conducted in 2013 and showed that only 12% of Americans had ever tried online dating, and only 3% claimed to have developed serious relationships.
This data shows that online dating is growing, but how do you know if online dating is right for you? More than that, are there any important things to keep in mind for those who are trying online dating for the first time?
In this article, we discuss the most popular dating apps Americans use, some frequently asked questions surrounding them, and outline some essential things to keep in mind when diving into the online dating world for the first time.
The Most Popular Dating Apps
As time has passed, more and more dating apps have emerged. Some newer ones, like Tinder, have quickly become the most popular apps of all while older ones like Match.com have had smaller user increases over time.
You probably guessed this one, but Tinder is the number one most downloaded dating app in America — by a landslide, too. Since its launch in 2012, it has become almost twice as popular as its next-closest rival with a total of just over one-million monthly downloads. That’s a lot of single people looking for love!
It could be said that Tinder has become the standard for online dating in America because of its simple and accessible concept.
To begin, you create a profile that you feel accurately portrays your personality and physical features. Then you shuffle through local profiles suggested to you by the app. If you like what you see, you swipe right or swipe left to move on to other profiles.
A “match” happens when two users both swipe right on each other, causing both people to be notified that they matched with one another. At this point, they have the option to message each other, which allows users to get a sense of what the other is like and whether or not they may want to pursue a romantic relationship.
Tinder allows you to set filters for the profiles you are shown, including an age and location range as well as how you want to interact with users you match with. It’s free to download but has several premium features you can pay for that include boosting your profile for more exposure and viewing users who have already swiped right on you.
The second-most-popular dating app in America is Bumble with 500 thousand monthly downloads. Bumble operates on many of the same principles as Tinder in that you swipe left or right on users based on whether you’re interested in them or not. It sets itself apart from its competition by only allowing women to initiate a conversation once a match has been made. Many women choose Bumble over Tinder for this reason as it allows them more control over the conversation.
Coming in as the third-most-popular dating app is Hinge with just under 400 thousand monthly downloads. Hinge’s difference lies within the prompts it asks you when you create your profile.
Instead of just posting your favorite pictures of yourself with a bio, Hinge asks you to caption your photos so that users can ask you questions when they match with you. Instead of just “liking” someone’s profile, you must engage them by either answering a prompt they have on their profile or by leaving a comment about one of their photos.
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Things to Keep in Mind
If you’re going in blind to the world of online dating, it can be a bit intimidating. You might already know which pictures of yourself you think you look best in, and that’s a good start. Online dating is about more than just looking your best, however. You want to grab people’s attention! You want potential matches to do a double-take at your profile not just because you look good, but because you seem interesting.
Keep an Open Mind
Online dating can expose you to people you may not ever encounter in real-life — people who may not typically fall into the category of “your type”. It’s true that you need to know what you’re looking for in a romantic partner, but allow yourself to have an open mind about who you match with.
Your location will have a large impact on the dating pool you’re presented with online, as will whatever app you’re using. Most importantly, don’t listen to anyone who tries to shame you for looking for romance online — it’s clear that online dating is here to stay.
Spruce Up Your Profile
We know some apps have prompts to allow you to show more personality on your profile, but others don’t. Set yourself apart from the rest by including a fun fact about yourself, or a joke to let people know you like to have fun. This is the time to let your creativity shine!
It can be something as simple as a quote from a movie or a favorite song, as long as it engages potential matches to open up a conversation with you. It’s common for users to ask their friends for help when creating their profile, so don’t be afraid to seek out advice on what looks and sounds good when creating yours.
Be Prepared for Conversation
No one wants to have a conversation that feels one-sided. One of the worst things you can do is sound uninterested to people you match with by giving one-word replies. Starting a conversation with “hey” is about as interesting as boiled water. Be unique! Get their attention with a clever (and respectful) one-liner or silly question.
While you should aim to include recent pictures on your profile that accurately portray what you look like, it’s also important to be true to yourself. The sheer number of potential matches can be overwhelming, so don’t get discouraged by thinking you will never find a match. As long as you are genuine to yourself and others, someone will come along who sees you for the catch you are.
Always prioritize your safety above anything else. Never give out any overtly personal information to anyone, especially your location. If you’re meeting someone for the first time, make sure you meet in a public place with plenty of other people nearby. Never ever ignore your instincts and trust your gut.
If you meet someone and something feels off, make an excuse and leave. A potential romantic interest is not worth putting yourself in a situation you do not feel safe in.
Take anything you are told online from a match with a grain of salt. Trusting that everyone online is as honest as you are is extremely dangerous. It’s not uncommon for people to exaggerate their circumstances or personalities online, so try to approach each first date with a healthy amount of caution.
What’s the Secret to Success in Online Dating?
Okay, so 20% of serious committed relationships began online, so what’s the big secret? How are some people finding their spouses online while others can’t set up a single date?
Unfortunately, there is no easy answer to this. Your location will play a huge role in this, and so will the apps you choose to use. If you have tried the three most popular dating apps with little success, consider making profiles on some of the other popular dating sites to maximize your dating pool.
Plenty of people have preferences on which dating apps they use, so find one that you enjoy the most! Other popular dating apps include Plenty of Fish, Match.com, Zoosk, Badoo, OkCupid, Grindr, and eHarmony.
Have you succeeded in getting matches on your profile but struggle to keep the conversation flowing? You’re not at all alone. Conversation starters can be exceedingly difficult to come up with, so it may be a good idea to have a few already up your sleeve.
Most people put a sense of humor at the top of their list of qualities for a potential partner, so it’s probably safe to start out with something funny. Find some jokes online that make you laugh, or come up with your own about one of their pictures on their profile.
Don’t be afraid to compliment a person as well! Who doesn’t love a nice compliment? As long as you are being respectful and honest, most people will be flattered with a compliment on their appearance.
Have Fun with It!
All said and done, the two most important things to remember with online dating are safety and honesty. Never put yourself in a situation that makes you uncomfortable and never compromise what’s most important to you. Being your most authentic and genuine self will not go unnoticed.
Follow your instincts and be yourself, and don’t stress yourself out! Dating is meant to be fun, so get out there and find your fish in the sea!