What is online dating ?

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Online Dating (also known as Internet dating) is a way for people to find and contact each other through the Internet to arrange a date, usually with the goal of developing a personal and romantic relationship. According to Match.com, one of the largest online dating services, over 40 million people Americans use online dating, which is 40 percent of the single adult U.S. population. Some online dating services are free to use but most charge a service fee to access all the available services. 

Online dating basics

To use online dating, a person creates a user account on an online dating site, then creates a profile with photos, descriptive information and match preferences. The online dating service uses software to provide the user with matches based on mathematical formulas (algorithms) which match one user with another based on their profile information, preferences, and interests. 

While the matching features of online dating services present a user with potential dates, it’s also possible for a user to search for potential dates based on location, age, religion and other profile information. Users can then make contact with a potential date using messaging or email services provided within the online dating service.

Online dating services

There are dozens of online dating services available. Each one has a slightly different marketing approach designed to appeal to various segments of the dating population. There are broad-based dating sites, the most popular of which is match.com, which called itself the “leading” online dating site and according to statisticbrain.com, Match has over 23 million members. eHarmony, another popular online dating site, has over 16 million members and markets itself as the “#1 trusted dating site for like-minded singles.” 

Specialized dating sites exist that focus on bringing people together with specific interested and preferences. There are dating sites for specific age groups, religious backgrounds, hobbies, sports, and age ranges. By using one of these specialized sites, it’s easier for a person to find an die matched with others that share something in common. Some examples of specialized sites are jdate.com (for Jewish singles), ourtime.com (for mature singles), singleparentmeet.com (for single parents), okcupid.com (free with premium options), and there are many others based on sexual preference, etc.. 

Online dating services have followed people who use their smartphones with mobile apps, and almost every online dating service has an app for both Apple and Android smartphones. Some online dating services have been designed specifically to take advantage of features on smartphones and use the user’s location and smartphone gestures. One of the most popular apps to use features on smartphones is Tinder, which was launched in 2012 and by 2014, had over one billion (yes that’s right) “swipes” per day.

Tinder users see potential dates on their smartphone screen and then swipe one direction to choose someone they are interested in dating or swipe the other direction to skip the match and move on to the next match. The user can then contact the potential date using Tinder’s messaging feature in the app. While Tinder gathered a reputation early on as “hook-up” app, it’s swiping feature has made it popular and it’s used by an estimated 50 million people every day and is available in over 30 languages. By the way, the company that owns match.com, IAC Interactive, owns a majority stake in Tinder. 

Online dating safety

One of the biggest challenges with online dating (or online communications of any kind) is safety and security. The online dating services all monitor suspicious activity and will delete a user’s