Middle-aged digital daters: 67% of UK dating website/app users aged 45-64 have met a date in person

May 31, 2019

Swiping left or right in the seemingly endless pursuit of love has become second nature for today’s young Brits, but according to new Mintel research – it’s older digital dating users who are more likely to take the next step and meet for a date in person.

In fact, 67% of 45-64-year-old users have taken the plunge by meeting up face to face, compared to just 56% of users aged 18-24. Overall, 63% of Brits using free dating websites/apps have met up with one of their online matches as a result.

However, young people are more likely to use online dating: more than four in 10 (44%) young Brits (18-24s) have used free dating websites/apps. Meanwhile, just over a third (36%) of 25-44s dabbled with free online dating, followed by 13% of 45-64s and a tech-loving 7% of 65s and over.

Rebecca McGrath, Research Analyst at Mintel, said:

“While online dating is typically associated with younger people, it’s actually older users who are more likely to follow through and meet their matches in person. This indicates a difference in what people are looking for when using online dating. Younger users are more likely to enjoy the gamified aspect and the process of interacting with and exploring new relationships in the online space, without necessarily having the intention of taking things further. Although older people are significantly less likely to use online dating tools, when they do, it is more likely with genuine intent to meet someone.

Artificial Intelligence will also be used more to help people transition from interacting online to meeting in person by giving users prompts and suggestions to take that next step. Such a feature could be considered very helpful, particularly among online daters who feel more self-conscious. However, it will need to be incorporated very carefully as some users may view it as invasive.”

Preference for meeting in person is the biggest roadblock for online dating

Mintel research shows that nearly one in 10 (9%) Brits who have not used a dating website/app in the last 12 months* have wanted to find a new date/partner during that time. This figure rises to 24% among 18-24-year-olds.

Over half (56%) of people who are not dating online, but would like to meet a new date/partner, are not doing so because they prefer to meet people the ‘old fashioned way’ – in person. A further 37% of these potential users are worried about being scammed by a fake profile; while a quarter (26%) worry about negative interactions on the website/app such as being sent inappropriate pictures. In fact, more than two in five (44%) of those who have used online dating rank being stricter about banning people for inappropriate behaviour as one of the top three things they’d most like to see dating websites/apps address. Today, less than one in five (19%) non-users believe it is unsafe.

“The desire to meet someone in person because it’s seen as more romantic and spontaneous is the biggest barrier for getting new online dating users and it’s a difficult one to tackle. One factor that could help change perceptions is if romances centred around online dating become a bigger part of popular culture. Currently, given the popularity of online dating in real life, there are still relatively few television shows and films that embrace the technology. Much of the media content about online dating instead explores the potential negative ramifications and is often portrayed as awkward and ‘fake’. If popular culture continues to idealise the in-person ‘meet-cute’ as the ideal way to meet a romantic partner, then people will continue to want to create that experience in real-life.” Adds Rebecca.

Most are looking for long-term relationships

Finally, it seems that Brits are more likely to use dating apps in order to find long-term relationships (61%), rather than short-term, casual ones (39%).

Men are significantly more likely than women to be looking for short-term relationships: 47% of men versus 27% of women. Meanwhile, 68% of users aged over 45 are seeking long-term/serious relationships, compared to 58% of users aged 18-44.

“The different motivations between the genders for digitally dating potentially creates a disconnect within the online dating world, as women are significantly more likely to want a long-term relationship. For this reason, clear opportunities and encouragements to indicate the type of connection people are looking for should always be made available, even if a website/app cannot control whether a person uses them honestly.” Rebecca concludes.

*In the 12 months to February 2019.

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