1. Finding a soul mate is expensive
The industry is now worth about $1.2 billion, up 4% from a year ago. eHarmony, launched in 2000 and marketed toward people seeking long-term relationships, blazed a trail with its prices, charging some of the highest in the industry, says Mark Brooks, a dating-industry analyst and the editor of Online Personals Watch.
2. Everyone is single sooner or later
The fastest-growing segment is baby boomers.16% of online daters are 50+. In January, the advocacy group AARP launched its own dating service, AARP Dating, powered by HowAboutWe.com. The number of HowAboutWe users 50+ grew 173% in the past year. It’s a good fit, says Brooks, especially given that 25% of AARP’s 37M members are single.
3. Cupid’s arrow often misses
Dating sites pride themselves on the wizardry of their algorithms. “It’s very early in the online dating industry,” says Dan Slater, author of “Love in the Time of Algorithms”. "Sites have gotten better at cross-referencing what people say and do, but there’s still a lot of room for improvement,” he says.
4. So many liars, so little time
Over half of U.S. online daters lie on their profiles. On the plus side, people who lie online tend be people-pleasers and very self-aware, says Jeffrey A. Hall, assistant professor of communications at the University of Kansas.
5. And you thought Facebook was nosy
The more people learn about each other before the first date, the better, author Slater says. “But nothing is free,” he says, “you’re giving them a ton of data.”
6. This place is a hotbed of adulterers
While most sites don’t promote infidelity, some make it easy. AshleyMadison now has 18M members worldwide. Some experts say, the marriage and divorce rate has been unaffected by the Internet.
7. Don’t judge a person by their photo
“Men like it when a woman is looking into the camera, as a man wants to believe that a woman is focused on them exclusively,” says Slater, the author. Men who stare into the lens, on the other hand, should take care not to appear intimidating, he says.
8. Keep a close eye on your wallet
Consumers lost $50M to romance scams in 2011. On newer, smaller sites, as many as one in 10 profiles could be fake, according to Brooks. “Scammers come in droves, and they’re very aggressive.” He advises talking to someone on the phone before meeting.
9. Objectification: It’s what’s for dinner
On-the-go dating seems to be a hit. Mobile dating revenue is expected to nearly double over the next five years, from an estimated $251.2M in 2013, according to IBISWorld. Crazy Blind Date app, which pixelates user photos, was downloaded ~100K times in the first 24 hours of its launch last month.
10. Endless love — or endless chat?
The endless supply of fresh faces, and the modern worker’s lack of leisure time make it difficult for people to ever actually go out on a date, says Hall, of the University of Kansas. Match says it’s responsible for 12% of all dates in the U.S., while eHarmony is saying its service accounts for 5% of all weddings in the U.S. Users, meanwhile, typically stick to a site for three months before moving on, says Brooks. But then roughly one-fifth of members on the big sites return within 18 months, he says.