With more online dating websites popping up and more people turning to online dating, there’s a bit of wonder surrounding who is using it to meet potential partners and whether or not it really “works.” While love can’t necessarily be measured by statistics, the stigma, usage, and most effective practices of online dating can. And the psychology behind why people are turning to the internet to get paired up is buried in the data of how people feel about meeting a virtual stranger.

According to a survey conducted by Pew Research Center, the unfavorable stigma surrounding online dating has changed in recent years. Of those polled in 2013, 59% said that “online dating is a good way to meet people,” compared to the 44% who agreed with that statement back in 2005. In that same poll, 53% said that online dating opens doors for people to “find a better match,” as compared to the 47% who thought that in 2005. For those who work long hours, have recently moved, or have just experienced a breakup, online dating offers a way for them to “put yourself out there” without actually spending time in places where, sure, you may meet someone. But does that person turn out to be a good “match” for you?

And the reach of online dating popularity goes far beyond the young and internet-savvy. Those aged 45-54 are just as likely to use online dating sites as those aged 18-24. A whopping 66% of people who have tried online dating said they’ve gone on a date with someone who they met through an online dating site or app.

When people become the authors of their own self-narrative, however, some variations of the truth tend to get thrown into the mix. One study reported that on average, women reported weighing 5 to 23 pounds less than their actual weight, while both men and women listed being slightly taller than the national average. Sometimes online daters need a little help from their friends, with a study finding that 1 in 5 turned to someone they trust to help them compose their profile. For men, profiles that featured photos where they looked away from the camera and didn’t smile earned more responses from women, while women’s profile pictures that featured eye contact and a flirty face garnered more responses.

With a reported 1 out of every 5 relationships starting online, online dating appears to only be gaining popularity, with entrepreneurs steadily trying to reinvent the wheel of how people catch each others eye.

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