The internet is widely used as a means to find a steady relationship. More than 13 percent of couples who started living together in the past half decade met on the internet. Older and divorced people in particular frequently use the internet to find a partner.
13 percent met on the internet
In a short period of time, the internet has become instrumental in finding a partner. Less than 2 percent of partners who started living together between 1998 and 2003 had met on the internet; five years later this was nearly 10 percent and the rate rose further to more than 13 percent between 2008 and 2013. Approximately half of these couples had met on internet dating sites. The other half also met on the internet, but not on dating sites.
Most people meet while engaged in leisure activities
As yet, most couples who start living together have met on an evening out, during a holiday or other leisure activity, but the number is diminishing. So is the number of people who meet their partners in sports and hobby clubs or in church. The internet is rapidly becoming the new tool to meet a partner. The number of people who meet a partner at work, among friends and relatives or at school remained stable.
How and where people met the partner with whom they now live together for no more than five years
Internet as the place where over-40s meet their partners
A growing number of over-40s and older people access the internet to find a partner. Although more people in their twenties marry or start living together compared to over-50s, the latter age group have met their partners more often on the internet. In the age category 50-64, more than 37 percent of people who started living together in the period 2008-2013 met their partners on the internet, versus more than 20 percent of 40 to 50-year-olds and only 6 percent of under-30s.
Partners living together (married or unmarried) in 2008-2013, who met on the internet
Age gap narrowing
The average age gap for couples who have met on the internet is 3.2 years. The age difference is smaller than between partners who have not met on internet sites. Their average age gap is 4 years. The difference remains, if age is taken into account (on average, internet partner are a bit older).
Divorced people more often find new partners on the internet
Irrespective of age, divorced people more often met their current partners on the internet. In 21 percent of cases, people who lived together or were married in the past, but broke up, found their new partners on the internet, versus 9 percent of non-divorced people.
Niels Kooiman and Jan Latten