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According to a 2015 study by the Pew Research Center, 15 percent of American adults have used online dating sites (web-based platforms like Match.com) and/or dating apps (location-based smartphone apps like Tinder).Participation by those 18 to 24 has almost tripled since 2013, and boomer enrollment has doubled.You can find the right person more effectively by choosing the right site, which means determining the demographics it caters to and figuring out whether a large or niche site will best serve your needs.Our survey found that Ok Cupid and Tinder, both free, were more popular among millennials than Generation Xers and baby boomers, who were both more likely to use a paid subscription-based dating website or app.And we found that the free sites generally did marginally better than the paid ones, presumably because they offer a better value.“You’re generally going to be best off starting your search on the ‘Big 3’: Match.com, Ok Cupid, and Plenty of Fish,” says Scott Valdez, founder of Virtual Dating Assistants, which helps people write their profiles and then manages their accounts.
“It’s a product of the growing normalcy of using social media apps,” says Moira Weigel, author of “Labor of Love: The Invention of Online Dating” (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2016).Perhaps that’s why, among those who said they had used multiple dating sites, 28 percent had tried four or more.But our research also found that online dating, however painful and time-consuming, often does produce the intended result if you use it well—and persevere.There’s a whole range of difficult human emotions to contend with: insecurity, disappointment, rejection, maybe heartache. “Sometimes there is nothing that clicks whatsoever,” says Julien Nguyen, a 30-year-old software designer from Austin, Texas, who has used Bumble and Tinder.“Sometimes whatever chemistry we had just fizzles out.”Perhaps being in the market for a mate can’t be compared with using other services. D., a professor at the Harvard Business School who studies consumer behavior, thinks so.