According to a nationwide, online survey conducted by PhoneFling, the first free mobile and online dating service established in the United States, 62.4-percent of all respondents have used the Internet to search for someone that they have dated in the past.
Even the lowest affirmative response, which came from respondents “46 years and older”, still showed that nearly half (47.9-percent) of the people in that age group had surfed online for this purpose.
This and other queries were posed in a month-long survey (ending October 15, 2009), which was sponsored by Intelitech Inc, the founding company of www.PhoneFling.com. Intelitech polled its 275,000 members to learn their opinions on flirting and forging relationships in a Web 2.0 world.
Some questions—such as asking whether members had ever searched online for an ex-partner—were included simply for fun and human interest. Others were more serious in nature, inquiring if and how people’s experiences and attitudes about dating were truly different in the virtual world than they are in real-life.
“Considering the phenomenal consumer interest in social media and online dating sites like PhoneFling, we wanted to poll our members to learn whether these technologies were significantly changing the way they interact with other singles,” said Kapil Pershad, Co-Founder of PhoneFling. “The survey showed that this was absolutely the case. For the majority of our members, online dating and social sites make them less inhibited about initiating conversation with other singles and more open to new types of relationships such as long-term or long-distance, than they were in the past. Essentially, online socializing has opened up new avenues for people to find love and it’s having a greater impact on their lives than we might have anticipated.”
Online Socializing Really Does Lead to Offline Dating…and Possibly Longer-Term Relationships
The survey results suggest that these new online mediums are definitively changing the way we interact with other singles. For one thing, dating online may be even more commonplace than some realize. Of those surveyed:
- 86-percent have known someone that used an online dating site
- 70.4-percent have known someone that took the interaction offline and met their date in person
- 43.6-percent have even known someone that entered into a long-term relationship with someone after finding them through an online dating site.
Online socializing may also make it easier for singles to express themselves sexually or romantically. In the survey, nearly 3 out of 4 (71.5-percent) respondents said that they flirt more often using online dating or social networking sites than they flirt when face-to-face. This could indicate that they feel less inhibited about expressing themselves in a virtual world they do in person, or perhaps that they are simply interacting with a larger group of desirable singles online than they are in real-life.
In some way, online dating may affect the types of relationships we seek or are willing to accept. PhoneFling discovered that more than one-third of the respondents said they were more likely to want a long-distance relationship or a long-term relationship (36.6-percent and 37.7-percent, respectively) based on their use of online dating and social media sites.
Singles Avow Honesty in Their Profiles, But Suspicious that Other Singles Are, Too
When respondents were asked to rank their main concerns about using mobile or online dating sites, the number two response– following “Security of My Personal Information” as the top answer–was trepidation by 68.3-percent about whether “People are Honest in Their Profiles.”
With such a high value placed on other singles representing themselves truthfully and accurately, one might wonder whether the respondents described themselves honestly in their own online profiles. The survey showed that, for the most part, they did. On average, only 1 in 10 respondents admitted that online dating and social media sites made them “More Likely” to fib about height, weight, physical appearance, age, career, or income. A much greater majority (64.1-percent) stated that online dating and social media sites actually made them “Less Likely” to fib about these characteristics.
Does Age Play a Role…How?
While some people might imagine the younger, more technically-savvy generation to be less inhibited about online flirting and more accepting of finding dates online, the survey suggests the opposite to be true. In fact, when respondents were asked whether they would flirt in the online chat room of a dating site, more than 8 out of 10 members age 46 and older answered “yes,” compared to only 66.4-percent of the 18-22 crowd.
Similarly, 83.3-percent of respondents 46 and older said they would go on a date with someone they met through an online dating site, while only 61.8-percent of 18-22 year-olds said they would be willing to take the relationship offline.
When Selecting an Online Dating Site, “Free” and “Mobile Access” Remain
Top Selling Points
In addition to polling about overall attitudes towards Web 2.0 dating, PhoneFling included some questions for their own market research purposes to inquire what qualities were most important to singles when choosing a site. Naturally, PhoneFling recognizes some inherent bias in the results since the survey only polled Intelitech’s members, and not the general public as a whole.
Nonetheless, the answers may explain why PhoneFling had so much appeal for its members. For instance, the survey showed that price—the fact that “The Service is Free” (78.8-percent)—was far and above the most important factor referenced by respondents. The least important factors in choosing an online dating site was whether “The Service Has Been Recommend by a Friend” (only 26.9-percent), perhaps suggesting that singles are looking beyond the big, brand-name sites and willing to explore new ones if they offer compelling features.
Additionally, mobile access ranked high in importance to members as well. A vast majority (88.7-percent) said that they were more likely to choose a dating service if they could browse people’s profiles on their mobile phone, a convenient benefit of PhoneFling but uncommonly offered by other dating sites. Market demand for mobile dating sites may not seem altogether unsurprising as sales of smartphones skyrocket, and consumers begin browsing on their cell phones nearly as frequently as they do on their home computer. From an industry-wide perspective, analyst firm Juniper Research has predicted that the mobile dating market will grow to $1.4B by 2013 (January 2009).