Businessman holding mobile smartphone using app texting sms message wearing jacket Megan and Nathan Jarrett married a month ago. They'd graduated from the same college, had nearly 20 friends in common on Facebook and still might never have met had it not been for a popular mobile dating app.
Megan, 25, said she is a "big fan" of such dating help. Finding a date hasn't hinged primarily on chance encounters or "setups" by friends since the advent of online dating sites and mobile dating apps. The popularity and number of those tools has grown across all age groups, but especially among young adults and those approaching retirement age, according to a new study by Pew Research Center.
Fifteen percent of American adults used either online dating sites, mobile apps or both, said the report. It found that 12 percent of American adults have used an online dating site, up from 9 percent two years ago, while nearly 1 in 10 have used a mobile phone dating app. That's nearly triple the number who used mobile phones to find dates in Among to year-olds, 27 percent have used websites or mobile apps to facilitate dating, according to the survey of 2, adults, conducted last summer.
Among those ages 55 to 64, the number has jumped from 6 percent to 12 percent since Mobile dating app use by young adults has accounted for the biggest chunk of growth, 22 percent compared to 5 percent two years ago. It's the opposite of the old adage that familiarity breeds contempt.
As more people know someone who uses online or mobile app dating tools — or try it themselves — the practice is becoming more accepted and mainstream. Pew found the majority of people believe online dating is a good way to meet people, whether they've tried it themselves or not. College-educated folks and the "relatively affluent" are more likely than other groups to know couples who met online or who find dates that way. Close to 60 percent know people who use the tools, while nearly half know someone who married or is in a long-term relationship that began that way.
Numbers are much lower, 25 and 18 percent, respectively, for those who have not gone to college. Of those who've tried it, four-fifths say it's a "good way to meet people.
But 45 percent of those who have tried online dating say it's "more dangerous" than other ways to meet people. Smith said women are more likely than men to feel that way. Megan Jarrett said she and Nathan met in person for the first time at a local deli because both wanted to meet in a public place where they felt safe. They also, coincidentally, asked the same young woman among their mutual acquaintances if the other was a good person.
That's not uncommon and it's something that online dating expert Julie Spira sees as a real strength of mobile dating apps, which point out mutual friends.
Despite perceived pluses, though, about a third of those surveyed said the availability of so many dating options "keeps people from settling down. Mobile dating apps are low stakes and low barrier compared to traditional online dating sites where members answer lots of questions and write long profiles, Smith said. The mobile apps — and most traditional online dating sites have those, as well — "tend to be minimal in that they're just a few pictures, a sentence or two, a snappy, engaging way of making a quick judgment.
In a lot of ways, they speak very much to the way young people engage with lots of types of information. Those aspects are important and familiar to younger adults. While older adults sometimes use mobile apps, they are more likely to use online dating sites, he added. The Deseret News interviewed several dating app users from Salt Lake City to get an idea of how they give dating a virtual jump-start.
Steph Shoell, 30, considers herself a sociable person and didn't feel like she needed an app to help her find great dates. But she decided to try it anyway and has no regrets. She doesn't consistently use dating apps, but when she does, she said she's becoming more focused, narrowing her choices to guys she might want to introduce to her mom sometime. Dory Peacock, 26, does standup comedy. She heard other comedians talking about the apps and wondered if she'd find material there.
You do small talk for two or three days and maybe never make plans. It's like being at the weirdest party ever. She likes mobile dating apps for the integrity, because "you all know why you're there.
It's not like going to a party or bar and then pretending you're casually running into people," she said. On the other hand, with snippets of information that the macroprofiles provide on dating apps, "someone who's probably really nice may sound like a serial killer. If marriage is the goal, say so. If it's not, say that. Profiles on the apps are very short and it's key to know the lingo, she said. NSA is not, in this case, a national agency. It means "no strings attached" and no serious relationship in the offing, for instance.
Use of digital tools lets people find dates quickly. It's a confidence builder, Spira said. It's possible to meet a greater variety of people than one might otherwise. That's an advantage that people can embrace. A something might be focused on career and not interested in a long-term relationship or might be ready to start a family.
Be aware, too, that potential dates will look you up on social media and will see if you look like those profile photos. The full Pew report is available online.