Oxford University’s Internet Institute (OII) recently conducted an online survey with 12,000 couples in 18 countries to examine modern dating habits in the past 10 years. Researchers found that, although technology is generally thought of as the province of the young, it’s the middle-aged men and women (40-69) who benefit most from online dating. Thirty six percent of these mid-life couples revealed that they found their current partner online, compared to only 23% of 18-to-40 year olds who’d found a relationship via the Internet. Only 2 participants began a relationship in their 70s, and neither had used the Internet to do so.
The Oxford team also found that 21 percent of couples polled had used social network sites to find love online. Oxford research fellow and co-author of this study, Dr. Bernie Hogan, reported that these findings indicate that internet dating is no longer a novelty, because it has become a common if not dominant way of meeting new partners, particularly if you’re between 40 and 70 years old. “Traditional meeting methods, like church events, family get togethers, and activities centered around shared hobbies and interests, are now showing a slight decline in popularity, as online dating site use becomes increasingly widespread,” Dr. Hogan said.
Despite the noticeable spike in online dating, offline dating is far from abandoned. The majority of couples in this study reported meeting their partners in person, using more conventional means like mutual friends (67%) or playing the field at bars and clubs (69%). Professor William Dutton, Hogan’s co-author, sums up the relationship between online and offline dating like this:
“This study suggests there has been a noticeable shift in dating strategies. Men and women are seeing the internet as a new place to meet…The popularity of online dating seems largely down to its accessibility and the fact that people seem comfortable disclosing what appear to be personal details in a ‘pseudo-anonymous’ online setting.”
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