Online dating statistics 2021 – during Coronavirus
Coronavirus has changed how we date. And with more lockdowns and social distancing, it has no doubt transformed the way we think about and approach romantic interactions.
Whether it’s virtual dates or a careful get-together, people are still dating each other – so what’s the full picture? We take a look at online dating statistics in the USA in 2021.
Key online dating statistics during the Covid pandemic
- The global online dating market has witnessed continuous growth during the Coronavirus pandemic and is expected to augment even further during the forecast period (2020-2024) (source).
- Revenue in the Online Dating segment is projected to reach US$3,241m in 2021 (source).
- In global comparison, most revenue will be generated in the United States (US$674m in 2021) (source).
- The major players dominating the online dating market are Match Group, Inc., Spark Networks SE, ProSiebenSat.1 Group (eHarmony) and Bumble (source).
What was online dating usage like before the pandemic?
In 2019, an article from eMarketer stated:
- Dating app downloads for the most popular apps were shrinking globally.
- The prediction that apps would grow 5.3% and reach roughly 25 million (source).
The forecasts were flat as before the pandemic, online dating fatigue was setting in.
Research from the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (2011) even showed that rejection in swiping actually made people feel lonelier before the pandemic hit.
Online dating usage during the pandemic
However, just as we cannot predict the future, we could not predict the pandemic. It seemed to be just what the dating industry needed to kickstart the business.
The pandemic has been great for dating apps:
- In early March 2020 Dating.com reported their global online dating was up 82% (source).
The dating app Bumble saw increased user engagement when Americans started social distancing:
- Bumble said it saw a 26% increase in messages sent during the week ending March 27 compared to the week ending March 13.
- Trump declared COVID-19 a national emergency on March 13.
The number of messages sent on dating apps also increased in March 2020:
- Tinder saw the length of conversations rise by 10 to 30% (source).
- Elite dating app Inner Circle saw messages rise 116% (source).
Dating apps are growing amid the pandemic
Dating apps have done remarkably well at this time.
Match Group, the parent company for 45 dating brands including Match, Tinder, Hinge, and OkCupid reported:
- The average number of subscribers grew 11% to 10.1 million, up from 9.1 million in 2019, according to Match Group’s Q2 2020 results (source).
- Increase in downloads and subscribers from pre-Covid-19 levels in the second quarter of the year (source).
- 15% increase in new subscribers for the quarter.
Smartphone habits in general increased amid the pandemic
Smartphone habits in general increased during the start of the pandemic. A survey conducted by Morning Consult on April 10-12 2020 showed that:
- One-third of adults were texting more (36%)
- Checking social media more (36%)
- Or watching videos online more (33%)
A Morning Consult poll from April 2020 revealed that:
- 6% of US adults were spending more time on dating apps
- While 43% reported no change in usage
In an April 2020 survey from The Harris Poll, US adults said they were more frequently using:
- Social media (50%)
- Virtual meeting sites (33%)
- Dating apps (11%)
Is the USA using online dating apps more or less during Covid?
|Frequency||Share of respondents|
|Don’t know or no option||13%|
According to April 2020 survey data of online dating app users in the United States:
- 31% of respondents were using online dating apps or services somewhat more than prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Only 13% of responding dating app users were using online dating platforms much less.
How is coronavirus changing dating? Are video calls the new first date?
Web-based first dates are becoming the new normal. Platforms are seeing a dramatic increase in users turning to calls and also video chats. Socially distanced video dating stats:
- Bumble during Covid saw an 84% increase in users using the app’s voice call and video chat tools.
- Bumble expanded its virtual dating tools which included creating a “virtual dating” badge for users who want to indicate they are open to video chatting.
- OkCupid experienced a 180% increase in mentions of FaceTime, Skype, and Zoom on profiles. The platform has also seen an 83% increase in users going on virtual dates in April compared to March 2020.
- A new dating app called ‘Quarantine Together’ was introduced with built-in video chat options and periodic reminders to wash your hands.
- Coffee Meets Bagel introduced virtual speed dating with 10 to 15-minute video calls that were moderated by a company representative.
Online dating during covid stats by age
|Age||Yes, I am currently using an online app or service.||Yes, I have used an online app/ service in the past but am not currently using one now.||No, I have never used an online dating app or service.|
This statistic presents the percentage of adult internet users in the United States who have used a dating website or app as of January 2019, by age group (source). According to the findings:
- 14% of respondents between the ages of 18 to 34 years stated that they were currently using a dating website or app
- In comparison, only 9% of respondents between the ages of 35 to 54 years reported similar responses.
According to a dating service Match Group, whose portfolio includes Tinder, Match.com, OkCupid, and Hinge, amongst others, there was a surge in usage across all demographic groups:
- Usage levels for younger users and females remained above pre- Covid levels.
- Usage among older demographics and males, which initially declined with the onset of the pandemic, has recovered and has now also exceeded pre- Covid levels (source).
What will the future of dating be like after Covid?
What is the future of smartphone dating app usage?
Vincent Yip, eMarketer forecasting analyst at Insider Intelligence said:
“People still want to find love and connection during these trying times. Since people can’t meet in person, many have adapted to finding someone online.”
“People crave human connection, and the pandemic has limited that needed interaction. As we head into 2021, and with the country returning to some normalcy, the dating habits should also revert back to pre-Covid times.”
Will digital dates become the new normal?
The dating industry has argued that digital-first dates could become the norm beyond the Covid-19 outbreak.
Founder of the dating site ‘The League’ commented in December 2020 that:
“In-person first dates will definitely be replaced by digital dates, as the stakes are lower, and with video chatting, you can figure out whether or not you click within the first few minutes.”
Can you truly gauge physical chemistry in a virtual setting?
Anthropologists have mixed arguments as to whether or not virtual connections are not the future.
Some say people use all five senses to determine whether there is genetic compatibility with a potential partner. Others argue we can create a connection through visual and auditory cues.
Dating expert Charly Lester doesn’t think virtual dating is the future:
“I don’t think you’re ever going to be able to completely replicate that physical chemistry with someone over video chat,” Lester said. “But it is a good litmus test. You’ll be able to work out if you don’t like someone.”
Evolutionary anthropologist Anna Machin from the University of Oxford’s Department of Psychology agrees that it is difficult to forge a connection because our senses are so important.
She commented that touch is what releases oxytocin, the neurochemical that underpins the first stages of attraction – impossible on a virtual date. And according to Machin, women, in particular, use their sense of smell to assess genetic compatibility – again, out of the question.
Biological anthropologist, Helen Fisher disagrees. She has spent 20 years studying MRI scans of people who are madly in love:
“Just because you can’t touch somebody, does not mean that you can’t fall in love with them,” Fisher said. She said that romantic love, even in a virtual setting, can trigger the dopamine system.
Will people start taking dating more seriously after the pandemic?
According to anthropologist Marcin:
“Maybe it makes you think that in a crisis like this really all you are left with are those you love, so it might have made some people ramp up their search for someone.”
Will there be a return to more traditional courtship?
Rachel Lloyd, eHarmony’s senior PR, and communications manager predicted:
“I remain hopeful that despite the turmoil, there will be positive side effects from the current crisis – that we can rediscover our flair for conversation and getting to know someone over time. I expect people will self-reflect more and consider what they really want for themselves.”
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