As February is Valentine's Day month, the topic of dating and relationships is at the forefront of people's minds. To gain some insights into how people feel about dating and relationships, Appinio conducted a study with a representative sample of 1000 Americans to explore the intricacies of relationships and the impact of dating apps.
In this article, we'll discuss the results of the Hype Tracker study conducted with the help of our special guest Jorge Bueso, Senior Consumer Research and Insights Manager at Spark Networks, including how people get into relationships, the experiences of single people, the role of dating apps in the search for romance and the newest trends in the dating world.
Appinio has consolidated all the valuable insights on the complex and ever-evolving landscape of modern romance in a 10 pages report, download the report for free now!
"Can't help falling in love": How people get into romantic relationships
Finding love can be a challenging and often elusive pursuit, but there are many different paths that people take to get there. From traditional ways of meeting someone through mutual friends or at social events to the growing popularity of online dating apps, how people connect is constantly evolving. In this section, we'll explore how partnered Americans got into their relationship.
According to the latest Appinio Hype Tracker Report on Dating and Relationships, 28% of partnered Americans found their current partner via family and friends, this is most likely for respondents aged between 45 and 54 years old.
The second most common way Americans have found their current partner is at the workplace (16%), this seems to be especially true for Boomers (26%).
The third and most common way Americans have found their current partner is at school or university (15%), this is most likely for Gen Z at a whopping 35%.
Dating apps and sites figure only as the fifth most common way people found their current partner at 11%, behind social media channels like Instagram or Facebook (13%). Interestingly, dating apps and sites are the most popular among Boomers at 14% and Millennials at 13%.
"All by myself": The challenges of being single
Being single in the modern era can be both exciting and challenging. There are countless opportunities for meeting new people and exploring different romantic possibilities. At the same time, being single can also be lonely or frustrating. The dating world can sometimes feel overwhelming or unfair to some.
In this section, we'll delve into the experiences of single people and how they navigate the world of dating, including the challenges and strategies they use for successful dating.
While attitudes towards being single have been changing in recent years, there is still a cultural bias in many societies towards the idea that being single is somehow "lesser" than being in a relationship. This bias can lead to negative stereotypes and assumptions about single people, such as the idea that they are lonely, unhappy, or unable to find a partner.
One reason for this bias is that being in a romantic relationship is often seen as a marker of success or social status. Society often places a great deal of value on romantic relationships, and those who are single may be seen as somehow lacking in this regard.
Additionally, some people may view being single as a temporary state that should be "fixed" by finding a partner, rather than a valid lifestyle choice. This attitude can lead to pressure on single people to actively seek out relationships, even if they are content with their single status.
For one in five single American people (22%), there is pressure built into the research of a romantic partner. Gen Z seems to be the most likely to say they feel pressured into dating (28%).
Those that feel pressured into dating and having a partner mention society at large as the main pressure factor (50%). It also doesn’t help that the entire economy revolves around couples and families.
It’s yesterday’s news that single people spend more than couples or families and that purchases like a new car or a house are almost impossible to achieve when being single.
A new report from Zillow, a real estate service, found that renters living in a one-bedroom apartment on their own pay a "singles tax" of nearly $7,000 per year. This phenomenon has been referred to as “Single Tax” and the bigger the city, the higher the tax is.
Unfortunately, family (44%) and friends (36%) also figure as stress factors when it comes to feeling pressure. Could you call it a family gathering if nobody questions your sexual orientation or asks you when you will get a partner and start a family, like cousin Riley?
"Love on the Internet": Online dating apps and their growing popularity
The Appinio Hype Tracker Report on Dating and Relationships shows that 39% of Americans are currently single, and 53% of them are actively looking for a partner.
Almost 25% of single Americans spend time on dating apps and websites to find a partner. More than half of them (54%) use the apps with the hope of finding a meaningful relationship. 39% of app users find them to be (very) helpful.
Over the past decade, online dating sites and apps have become an increasingly popular way for people to connect with potential romantic partners.
Dating apps work by providing a platform for users to find a compatible partner based on shared interests, preferences, and geographic proximity.
Users need to create detailed profiles that include information about themselves. This includes their age, location, photos, and even personality test scores like the MBTI (i.e,. Myers-Briggs Type Indicator). Users usually also include information on what they are looking for in a partner. This information is then used by the app's algorithm to suggest matches that meet the user's preferences.
Once a match is made, online daters can initiate a conversation through the app's messaging feature, and decide whether or not to take the conversation offline and meet in person. Some dating apps also offer additional features, such as video chat or virtual events, to help users get to know each other before meeting up in person.
Dating apps can be free or paid, with some offering additional features or perks for a fee or paid membership (i.e., freemium).
While online dating apps and dating websites have certainly revolutionized the dating world, they also have their drawbacks such as the potential for deception or disappointment. Some also argue that they can be a poor substitute for more natural, authentic in-person connections. Nonetheless, the growing popularity of online dating apps suggests that they are here to stay and that they will continue to shape the way that people approach romance and relationships in the future.
"You can't hurry love", or can you? The advantages of dating apps according to Americans
There are many reasons why dating apps and websites have become increasingly popular among online daters.
- Ease of connecting with others
Over one in two (54%) American online daters mention that it’s easy to talk to someone on dating apps. For some people, online dating sites can be a way to reduce social barriers and make it easier to connect with others. This is particularly true for those who are shy, introverted or struggle with social anxiety.
More than one in two Americans (53%) say that dating apps are convenient, especially for those who have busy schedules or who live in areas where it can be difficult to meet someone new.
- Larger match pool
Almost two in five (39%) state that dating apps offer access to a much larger dating pool of potential partners than traditional ways of meeting people and this can increase the chances of finding a compatible match.
Two in five (39%) American online daters state that dating apps are always accessible as there are no opening times.
- Greater control and autonomy
Online dating allows users to have greater control and autonomy over their dating lives, as they can choose who they want to connect with and can set their own preferences for things like age, location, and interests.
- App gamification
Many dating apps use gamification techniques, such as swiping and matching, that can make the process of finding a match feel more like a game or a fun activity.
"The Feels": Best dating apps according to AmericansEven if you haven’t personally used any of these dating services, you surely already have an idea of some of the most popular dating apps. Let’s go over the most used ones by Americans.
Launched in 2012, Tinder is one of the most well-known and widely used dating apps. It is a location-based app that allows users to swipe left or right on profiles to indicate interest. Tinder offers premium features (e.g., rewind, or super-likes) with a paid membership.
Over one third (35%) of Americans stated that they use the app. Gen Z are the most likely to use Tinder at a whopping 82%.
- Plenty of Fish
The service is known for its large user base and its extensive questionnaire that helps users find compatible matches. It is a popular choice for people who are looking for a free dating app that offers a range of features and a large pool of potential matches. It has expanded into a mobile app and uses a freemium model like the apps mentioned above.
Our Appinio Hype Tracker Report shows that 25% of Americans use the service, making it the second most used channel to find a partner. The service is the most popular among 45-65 years-olds.
Founded in 2014, Bumble is very similar to Tinder. The main difference is that Bumble gives women the power to make the first move when it comes to messaging potential matches. This unique feature has helped Bumble to establish itself as a feminist dating app, with a focus on empowering women in the online dating game. Like Tinder, Bumble offers extra features under a paid membership.
Bumble is the third most used app by Americans at 14% and it is more likely to be used by Gen Z (32%).
- Facebook Dating
Facebook launched a dating service in 2019, and it is available within the Facebook app itself. Facebook Dating allows users to create a separate dating profile, which is not visible to their Facebook friends or anyone else who is not using the service. The dating profile would use information from a user's Facebook profile, including their interests, groups, events attended, and other personal details to suggest potential matches. Users can also connect with potential matches through shared interests, Facebook Groups, and Events. The service is free to use, but users have the option to pay for additional features.
Our findings show that 13% of all American online daters use Facebook, and 45-54 years-olds are the most likely to use it.
Match.com is one of the oldest and most well-known online dating platforms, having been founded in 1995. It is known for its large user base, with millions of registered users from around the world. The app focuses on helping people find long-term, committed relationships. Match.com has now evolved into a mobile app and, like the others, offers extra features under a paid membership.
13% of online daters use Match.com, Boomers are the most likely to use it.
"Fake Love": The disadvantages of using dating apps according to Americans
While dating apps have revolutionized the dating world in profound ways, we need to consider their drawbacks too.
The Appinio Hype Tracker reveals that almost two in five (40%) US online daters have been ghosted on dating apps and websites.
Indeed one of the most discussed problems of dating apps, ghosting (also known as simmering or icing) means cutting off all communication without an explanation and zero warning. This usually leaves the other person wondering what happened and feeling rejected, leaving them feeling confused, frustrated, angry, sad, or in some cases even developing feelings of general mistrust.
- A focus on superficial qualities
Dating apps can encourage a focus on physical appearance and superficial qualities, rather than more meaningful connections based on shared values or interests. For instance, 37% of American online daters interviewed for the Appinio Hype Tracker Report mention that they pay attention to whether a potential partner looks good.
- Choice paralysis
With so many options available, the large pool of potential partners on dating apps can be overwhelming. It can be difficult to sift through all the options and find the perfect match.
There are indeed algorithms that help with the sifting process, but they bring other issues to the table, like reinforcing societal biases, such as by promoting certain racial or ethnic groups over others.
- Progressive inability for face-to-face interactions
Using dating apps to connect with others continues to radically change how people approach each other. People interact differently online and these behaviors may not really be applicable in face-to-face situations.
- Potential for deception
One other very discussed (and televised) disadvantage of dating apps is the deception potential. It is quite common that some people on dating apps may misrepresent themselves or their intentions, even creating fake accounts (who hasn’t heard of the Netflix hit “The Tinder Swindler”?). The scammer problem dating apps have is very widespread and no dating site is immune.
Fun fact: Video-first dating app Filter Off came up with a smart, and funny, solution to the issue: locking scammers in a room with a bunch of bots. The bots leverage OpenAI GPT3 to produce human-like text and they are configured so that scammers can match only with them. But the most devious part of this ploy is that scammers would also match with other scammers, and they’d try to scam each other. Certainly a very interesting spin on the "meeting like minded people" saying.
"With or without U(I)": Singles’ opinions on dating apps design and features
In the Appinio Hype Tracker Report we also asked single respondents how satisfied they were with their dating app experience.
The design of the apps is the aspect with highest approval. 37% of single Americans say they are (very) satisfied with it. Data privacy (36%) ranks second, and user friendliness comes in third place at 32%.
When asked what dating app services single Americans were willing to pay for, 46% (the majority) state that they are not willing to pay for any additional services.
16% are willing to pay to avoid in-app ads as well as an increased quality of matches (16%), 14% are willing to pay more to get unlimited access to people that viewed/liked their profile, and 13% would pay if they could get unlimited swipes.
"I don't want to miss a thing": Newest trends in the dating and relationship landscape
For this investigation, Appinio could count on the invaluable expertise of Jorge Bueso, Senior Consumer Research and Insights Manager at Spark Networks, global dating company with an ever-growing portfolio of premium and freemium apps.
The Appinio Hype Tracker report touched on how people get into relationships, the experiences of single people, the role of dating apps in the search for romance, but also how single and partnered Americans were planning to spend Valentine’s Day.
“Online dating services position themselves as one of the top 3 places to overcome the challenges of finding that special someone (or, at times, special for a brief moment).
Relationships that started between 1-3 years ago declared online dating services as the most used to find their partner. These relationships have a big impact on the Valentine’s Day season, too. For instance:
- Nearly half of relationships that started on them celebrate Valentine’s Day every year.
- If the relationship started on a dating app, Valentine’s Day celebrations will go something like this:
1. Go out for dinner,
2. Exchange Valentine’s Day cards, and
3. Express their love for each other in a more physical way”
Jorge has also provided Appinio with interesting and conversation-starting hypes that have been tested in the Hype Tracker.
In addition to understanding Valentine’s Day celebrations, Appinio helped us identify two distinct High Speed Hypes for women, particularly younger women; Red Flags / Ghosting and Gender Identity / Polyamory. They are both worth monitoring as they become even more relevant to online daters in their search for a partner in the future.
As Jorge above mentioned, the biggest conversations seem to be happening around:
- Red Flag
- Gender Identity
- Only Fans
Incidentally, all the mentioned hypes are High Speed hypes for Gen Z respondents.
💡High Speed Hypes are hypes that are heavily discussed within the respondent's circle of friends and family.
Curious to know how the hypes performed with other age groups? Check the hype tracker on the Appinio Analyzer.
The world of dating and relationships in the US is complex and ever-evolving. Both traditional and modern approaches coexist in a landscape shaped by technology and changing social norms.
Our study has shed light on some of the trends and patterns that define the current dating scene, from how people approach dating, the increasing popularity of dating apps to the disadvantages of these new tools.
Ultimately, our expert Jorge Bueso, has provided us with a fresh perspective on Valentine’s Day, dating and given us food for thought when it comes to the newest trend in the dating and relationship world.
"Call me maybe": Want to run your own study?
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- Can't help falling in love - Elvis Presley
- All by Myself - Celine Dion
- Love on the Internet - St. Lucia
- You can't hurry love - The Supremes
- The Feels - TWICE
- Fake Love - BTS
- With or Without You - US
- I don't want to miss a thing - Aerosmith
- Perfect - Ed Sheeran
- Call me maybe - Carly Rae Jepsen