I wonder how the late great singer Jim Croce would have titled his “Operator” song today about a love-starved guy trying to reach out and touch someone. Keying in a URL on the Web doesn’t capture the same angst as confiding in an unknown telephone operator, does it?
In last week’s post I made mention of a stat I found somewhat hard to believe: that one out of eight couples who were married over the last year first met online.
And that doubt comes from a guy who met his own wife online just over a decade ago when this idea was seen as crazy by most friends of Anne and me.
In truth, the percentage of marrieds who met online may be higher and the time frame wider.
The London Daily Mirror reported in its online site on Aug. 14, 2008, “Single men and women are more likely to find true love on the internet than at work or at a party – especially if they are over 45. A poll of 10,000 married couples in 2006-2007 found 19 percent met online compared with 17 percent who got together at work and 17 percent who paired up through pals.”
And that was four years ago. With the rush to the social media increasing geometrically, those numbers are likely up from that today.
But there’s more: Of those surveyed, those between 45-54 were even more likely to meet online. In fact, the survey showed 31 percent of these couples met online. And it doesn’t stop there as many seniors are turning to the Web to find a new lease on love as the above picture of Glen and Dorothy shows.
In grad school I was taught to always check the source of surveys, and it’s not surprising that this one apparently came from Internet dating giant eHarmony, although that fact is somewhat fuzzy in the Mirror story which quotes a eHarmony exec who made the following analogy:
“Wanting to get married and not going online will soon be seen as equivalent to trying to find an address by driving around randomly rather than using a map.”
A different kind of map
Given that most guys prefer getting lost to using maps, it is ironic that surveys show men go fishing online even more than women do.
In any event, here are some stats (with obligatory author observation in italics) regarding online dating and marriages that ensue from them, and they come from a nicely-sourced site called Dating Sites Reviews.com :
• There are about 1,400 online dating sites in North America. I think there were maybe five when I was surfing for love.
• Married couples who met online had an average courtship period of 18.5 months. Married couples who met offline had average courtships lasting 42 months. Not ones to procrastinate, Anne and I were at the altar six months after our pixels met. We take pride in the fact our marriage has outlasted the dating site in which our worlds collided.
• The Better Business Bureau in the U.S. said in 2009 they received 2,660 complaints about dating services. That number is up from 824 in 2004. But so are the numbers of online daters. Complaints? How about the Knoxville woman who sent me a key to her condo before she even met me. Then, when she offered me a guest bedroom after an eight-hour drive, she slept on the floor outside my door (which I locked) daring me to leave unexpectedly. I just stepped over her as she snored.
Making money with love
• The online dating industry is now worth $4 billion worldwide.
• This year, 17 percent of couples who married met on a dating site. That is more than one in eight, and the source is Match.com.
• One in five singles have dated someone they met on a dating site. And one in two have regretted at least one of those dates. In my case, it was the Knoxville lass.
• For singles who use dating sites, 33 percent form a relationship, 33 percent do not, and 33 percent give up on dating online. All of which adds up to 100 percent smiles or headaches, or both.
• The mobile phone dating market was worth $330 million in 2007, $550 million in 208, and is predicted to double by 2013 to $1.3 billion annually.
Sex, love, and the Web
• Adult dating sites are cited by some for causing the $1.2 billion sex industry to drop $74 million in revenue in 2009 alone. Does this mean we’re taking sex out of the fantasy realm and inserting it into reality?
* 30 percent of women who met men online had sex on their first date, with 77 percent not requiring a condom to be used. I rest my case.
• Singles who are more likely to use dating sites are ones who are more sociable and have high self-esteem. They also put more value in romantic relationships. So much for the idea that only pet-shop Adrians (Remember Rocky?) are regulars on dating sites.
• With free dating sites, it is estimated that at least 10 percent of new accounts created each day are from scammers.
About that last stat, I can warn you with a special degree of certainty to beware of Russian women named Tanya who post pictures looking like Julia Roberts and who say their dream is to come to America and find a man who looks just like you.
Shall we save the topic of Internet dating scams for another session? I think so.