Ship Pitch

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Online Dating - Trends

Pocketing, cookie jarring, the choice is out and love is in, rise in marriages/relationships that start with online dating, ghosting, breadcrumbing, and diverse relationships are major trends in online dating, especially app-based dating.


1. Pocketing

  • "This is a term which comes into action when the person you are dating is trying to hide you or put you into a ‘pocket’ so that he or she can conceal you from others (also the people they are close to)".

2. Cookie Jarring

  • Cookie Jarring is when one of the two partners is dating other people and “is also not letting you off the hook” i.e. they are cookie jarring the other partner. This is common in online forums where people go on multiple dates. According to the new age millennials, "it is good to be cookie jarring so that there is more than one option to choose from".

3. The Choice is Out and Love is in

  • People are now using dating apps for committed relationships and long term dating. This marks that the "marriage era is going to rule all over again as compared to dating in 2017 and 2018 when most people were into casual dating and avoided long term commitments.

4. Rise in Marriages/Relationships that Start with Online Dating

  • While online dating was considered taboo once, now 20% of couples meet online which has more than doubled in the last decade. Nowadays, the probability of meeting a partner online is higher than through family or co-workers.
  • Economist Josué Ortega says “When I came across the statistic that one-third of marriages start online and 70% of gay relationships, I was shocked. And the more I talked to people, the more I heard that they'd met their partners on Tinder and other sites”.
  • According to the Pew Research Center, online dating has tripled among millennials between the age of 18 and 24 since 2013. Likewise, it has doubled in older adults between the age of 55 and 64 from 2005 to 2015. The PRC also found that the approval of online dating has increased by 15% during this period".

5. Ghosting

  • Ghosting trend is mostly when a person suddenly “halts all forms of communication with the person they've been dating, ostensibly hoping the ghosted person will get the hint without the ghoster having to break up with them”.

6. Breadcrumbing

  • Another online dating trend is breadcrumbing, in which people continue to leave messages indicating that they might be into you but they aren't into you at all. In other words, breadcrumbing is "leading somebody on with no intention of following through," often to get attention.

7. Diversity in Online Dating

  • Online dating from the likes of Tinder in traditional partnering patterns in recent times has seen “greater-than-predicted rise” in interracial marriages.
  • According to the Pew Research Center, analysis of recently released survey data from Stanford University finds that couples who meet online are more likely to be diverse in dimensions such as race, ethnicity, education, political party or income.


  • People are now using dating apps for committed relationships, long term dating and “mark that the marriage era is going to rule all over again” as compared to dating in 2017, 2018 when most people were into casual dating and avoided long term commitments.
  • Now 50 million people in the US have tried online dating with 84% of the users using online dating to invest in a serious relationship rather than just hook-ups.
  • People who first met online rose from about 81% in 2009 to almost 90% in 2017.
  • While online dating was considered taboo once, now 1 in 5 couples meet online which has more than doubled in the last decade. Nowadays, the probability of meeting a partner online is higher than through family or co-workers.
  • According to a AT&T study, the best states for dating and their most preferred apps are New Hampshire—Tinder, Massachusetts—OkCupid, Rhode Island—PlentyOfFish, Connecticut—Bumble, and Maine—PlentyOfFish.
  • According to the Pew Research Center, "online dating has tripled among millennials aged from 18 to 24 since 2013. Likewise, it has doubled in older adults aged between 55 and 64 from 2005 to 2015. The PRC also found that the approval of online dating has increased by 15% during this period".
  • Tinder is the top dating app in the US with 17%. It is followed by Match at 15%. Bumble and Plenty of Fish each is at 8%, and OKCupid and Zoosk are at 5%. While 8% chose "Other." 34% of respondents said they don't use dating apps among the 2,033 US consumers surveyed.


We started our research by looking for online dating trends, especially app-based dating on published industry reports and media sources that generally cite such trends such as Knowtechie, Popsugar, Allure among others. We created a list of current trends based on "How people use online dating apps for marriage, friendship, and hook-up, i.e., what's new? How has it changed? Is there a stigma? Where is it growing/shrinking and with whom?"

We then identified the trends as "current trends" based on the following strategy:
  • To identify the above-identified list as trends in online dating, we used sources like Forbes and PewResearchCenter among others to corroborate the same. Hence, the trend has been named after corroborating the same with two or more sources that state trends in online dating/online app dating.
  • To show them as 'current', we only used data that was published within the last 12 months.
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Online Dating - Dangers and Pitfalls

While online dating sites or apps can be a useful way to have fun and find dates, these services also come with numerous dangers and potential pitfalls. Scams, robberies, and sexual assaults have all been facilitated by online dating sites and apps, and a prevalence of lying on these platforms exacerbates these dangers. Additionally, dating platforms can be a poor way to find lasting love or long-term relationships and can be damaging to users' mental health. An overview of each of these issues is provided below.

Lying on online dating profiles is a frequent occurrence

  • According to Kaspersky, 57% of online daters lie about some aspect of their personas, "faking a range of attributes such as their names, marital status, location and appearance." Some findings are even higher, with other organizations estimating that as much as 81% of users lie on their online dating profiles.
  • While lying on online dating apps or websites can sometimes be innocuous, it can also facilitate more serious issues, such as online dating scams or assaults.
  • National Cellular Directory estimates that 66% of online daters have seen at least one profile on dating websites or apps that is fabricated, and is therefore created to exploit unsuspecting users.

Violence, robbery, and sexual assault are serious risks when it comes to online or app-based dating

  • Studies show that about 10% of all sexual predators utilize online dating sites or apps, while as much as 25% of all rapists utilize these sites to find their victims.
  • Approximately 400 people have been murdered since 1995 by somebody that they initially met online.
  • The risk of assault and robbery is shared by both men and women. For example, last year in Columbia, South Carolina, some "men [became] robbery and assault victims after making a date with a woman they found on the dating app Plenty of Fish."

Scams have become prevalent on online dating sites and apps

  • Studies show that approximately 1 in 10 users on online dating sites or apps are hoping to scam unsuspecting users and/or lie about their identities to obtain money.
  • The problem has become so prevalent that the FBI has gotten involved, "working to raise awareness about online romance scams, also called confidence fraud."
  • As recently as 2016, the FBI received about 16,000 complaints "categorized as romance scams or confidence fraud." Additionally, "the losses associated with those complaints exceeded $230 million."
  • As in the case of robberies and violent assaults, scams on dating sites or apps "can affect men and women of all ages because the scammer attempts to connect with their victims in a more personal way." One common scam includes becoming close with the victim, then claiming to need money as a result of medical emergencies or being the victim of a robbery.

While dating apps and websites can be useful for meeting new people, they are often ineffective when it comes to finding love or long-term relationships

  • Various relationship experts believe that while online dating services, particularly dating apps like Tinder, can be useful for meeting new people, they often lead users to fall into an "ego-feeding" pattern, seeking the instant gratification of matching up with another user and failing to exhibit the patience necessary to find a truly compatible partner.
  • Miami-based relationship expert Claudia Duran explains that while dating apps are good for seeking fun or adventure, as well as "extending your network [and] hookups," but are generally bad for starting long-term relationships.
  • Another factor that contributes to this problem is that as many as "51% of online daters are already in a relationship," meaning that these users are likely not open to starting a relationship.

The companies behind dating apps and websites are secretive regarding data about crimes on the platforms, meaning that problems could be more extensive than currently thought

  • While many independent studies and surveys have been conducted around online dating, the companies in this space are secretive when it comes to data regarding crimes facilitated by the platforms, such as scams, robberies, and assaults. A Quartz report explained that dating app companies "seem reluctant to do more [to protect users] — or even to talk about whether there’s a problem."
  • The lack of cooperation and public discussion from dating site companies regarding assaults, scams, and other dangers means that these problems could be more prevalent than currently known. Moreover, it will be challenging or impossible to gauge the efficacy of measures introduced to reduce these problems without "seeing whether [they] reduced the number of incidents."

Dating apps can lead to depression and low self-esteem

  • Dating apps like Tinder can decrease self-esteem and lead to sadness and depression. For example, a recent University of North Texas study "found that male Tinder users reported lower levels of satisfaction with their faces and bodies and lower levels of self-worth than those not on the dating app."
  • A co-author of this study, psychology professor Trent Petrie, believes that "a focus on appearance and social comparisons" leads users to "become overly sensitized to how they look and appear to others and ultimately begin to believe that they fall short of what is expected of them."
  • Additionally, a recent survey found that the dating app Grindr was the app that made the highest proportion of users feel unhappy, with 77% of its users reporting negative feelings after using the app.

research strategy

To detail the above dangers and pitfalls regarding online dating on websites and apps, we conducted a search of relevant studies, surveys, and media reports. We utilized a range of sources to provide a complete overview of the prevalent dangers and pitfalls when utilizing these services. After collecting these sources, we synthesized the above report with the most relevant data from each.
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Online Dating - Demographic Analysis

The typical user of a mobile dating platform in the United States is a single, non-Hispanic white man, aged 18-44 years, who earns $25,000 to $75,000 annually and lives in the southern parts of the United States. Tinder, OKCupid, Bumble, Plenty of Fish, Match, and Zoosk are some of the most popular dating apps in the United States. A detailed breakdown of the demographics of users of online dating platforms is provided below.


  • According to a Statista report on the most popular online dating apps in the US, Americans aged 18-44 years constitute the most common age group on online dating platforms. Generally, the most active group of users are those within the 18-29 age group, followed by users who are aged 30-44 years.
  • Americans who are aged over 65 years hardly use dating platforms, accounting for 0% of the customer base for many of these apps. Those who are within 55 and 64 years make up the second smallest group of users.
  • Tinder, which is the most popular dating app in the United States, has 35% of its users within the 18-24 age group. Those aged 25-34 account for 25%, while users within 35-44 make up 20% of its customer base.


  • In the United States, men use online dating platforms more than women. Generally, 46.7% of these users in America are female, while 53.3% are male.
  • Tinder, for instance, has 83.8% of its total users as men, while male users make up 73.5% of OkCupid's customers. On the other hand, 67.5% of Bumble users in the US are men.
  • Non-Hispanic whites are the most dominant group across both genders on online dating platforms. Hispanics, African Americans, and Asians are the next active racial groups; their share of user numbers on these platforms is almost evenly distributed.
  • According to a study published by BioMed Central, 64.5% of women on these platforms are non-Hispanic whites, with the Hispanics comprising 9.8% of the female population, and African-Americans accounting for 8.7%. Asians make up 9.3% of female users.
  • Men on these online dating platforms are distributed as follows: 61.2% non-Hispanic whites, 8.1% Hispanics, 13.3% African-Americans, and 9.1% Asians.
  • Generally, the most dominant income group that uses online dating platforms in the US earns between $25,000 to $75,000 annually. More specifically, women who earn from $25,000 to $50,000 account for 26.8% of total female users. On the other hand, 25.7% of the female users earn between $50,000 and $75,000 annually.
  • In terms of male users, 28.2% earn from $50,000 to $75,000 annually, while 24.4% earn from $25,000 to $50,000 yearly.
  • Online dating platforms in the United States are mostly used by people who are single. 69.4% of female users on these platforms have never married, while 67% of male users have never married. However, there are married people on these platforms as well; 16.4% of the women are married, while 24.9% of the men are married.


  • According to a SurveyMonkey Intelligence report on the geographical distribution of dating app users in the US, the highest volume of users of online dating platforms are situated mostly in the southern regions, followed by the western parts of the United States.
  • In the southern regions, platforms such as Black People Meet, eHarmony, POF, Zoosk, and Tinder have their highest customer base situated there. Each of these dating platforms has 69.7%, 58.4%, 44.4%, 42.4%, 36.8% of their users from the southern region, respectively.
  • In the west, Coffee Meets Bagel has 50.7% of its users from this region, Grindr has 39.9% of its users from there as well, while Bumble has 31.2% of its users from this region.


In order to provide the general demographic characteristics of users of online dating platforms in the United States, the research team searched for surveys and credible industry publications and research with this information. Our focus was on app-based dating. After an exhaustive search, data extracted from various credible sources such as BioMed Central, Toptal, App Ape, and SurveyMonkey Intelligence have been used in generating the demographic characteristics of online dating platform users.
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Online Dating - Network Effect

Features on dating apps as well as images showing the social network of a person can influence how the person is regarded and therefore influence the decision to date the person. Unfortunately, no information was available on the role and level of influence of a person's network (friends and family) on their behavior on online-dating platforms. Below is an overview of the information that was available.


  • The common connections feature which displays mutual Facebook friends on Tinder might influence the sexual decision-making of a person because users are able to evaluate potential dates based on their social network.
  • According to the Dating Scout survey report, displaying a picture with someone else gives the impression that the person has social skills, is socially competent, and at ease in the company of others.
  • According to a study by Drew Walker and Edward Vul, people are considered to be more attractive when they are seen as part of a group than when they are alone.
  • The recommendation of a friend helped a person join the Tinder online-dating app to find a new partner.



  • Friends can influence relationships by disapproving of a partner if they have a negative opinion about that partner.
  • Friends can influence the romance in a relationship if they make negative remarks about the partner, which can be disheartening.
  • When friends ignore the photos or posts of a couple in a relationship on social media, it can influence the relationship as their friend may feel sad or hurt by their non-reactions.
  • If a person meets someone via a friend or family member, it helps validate certain characteristics, such as values and personality traits, about their dating partner.


  • According to a study by Dr. Shannon Davis at the University of North Carolina, family attitudes about cohabitation, divorce, and premarital sex influence teen dating behavior.
  • Dr. Shannon Davis' research suggests that adolescents from families with more permissive belief systems tend to have more dating partners.
  • According to the report "Family Influences on Adolescent Sexual and Contraceptive Behavior," a study by the Utah State University, single-parent households produces more teenagers who are sexually active.


Our first strategy was to look for reports and articles that focus on the dating industry on sites like Dating Tips and Dating Advice. This strategy did not work as the information found was on topics such as friends influencing relationships, family influencing dating, among others. However, there was no information regarding the users of online/app-based dating platforms. We had thought that this strategy may work as these websites provide tips and insights for managing relationships and dating and may have published information on this topic.

Our second strategy was to look for research on sites that publish scientific research (such as Research Gate, Science Direct, among others). This strategy did not work as the information found was about the role of social media in online dating and marriage, and there was no information about the role and level of influence of friends and family on online dating. We had looked into these sites as we thought research might have been conducted on the subject matter.

Our third strategy was to look for posts on journals, blogs, third-party sites, among others, about how friends and family impacted their online-dating. For this purpose, we searched on sites like Elite Daily, Elephant Journal. However, this strategy did not work as the information found was on how dating apps like Tinder changed the life of a person. We looked into these sites because they were likely to provide first-hand experiences and we wanted to establish some common effects on the basis of multiple articles and reports.

Our fourth strategy was to look for paid reports. We found that on Liebertpub there was information on the effect friends had on the behavior of Tinder users. Our aim behind this strategy was to look for paid research reports and use insights from these reports and present relevant findings which will be useful for the client.
One of the reasons for non-availability of information could be that families have no or limited influence on online-dating.