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The dating biz

Helping people find love is a multi-billion-dollar global industry, especially during the pandemic.
Illustration by Giovani Flores
  • The big idea

    Helping people find love is a multi-billion-dollar global industry, especially during the pandemic.

    Image copyright: Giovani Flores for Quartz
  • By the digits

    270 million: Monthly active users of dating apps

    $1.4 billion: The revenue generated by Tinder, the most popular dating app in the US, in 2020

    3-6 months: The average lifespan of an online dating app user

    $29.99: Cost of a bouquet of digital roses on Hinge, or Tinder’s most expensive monthly subscription

    1.5 million: OkCupid users who say they are open to a long-distance relationship

    47%%: Americans who say dating is harder today than it was a decade ago; one third say it’s because they are too busy

    3: India’s rank in revenue from online dating, after the US and China

  • One big number


    The online dating industry’s growth during the pandemic-dominated year of 2020.

    Read more about how online dating changed during the pandemic.

  • Charting the average age of an online dater

    Millennials are tired of the swiping game on Tinder and its persistent reputation as a hook-up app. But that may not be that big of a problem for the company because the plurality of its users are younger. Gen Z has arrived, and its members have a different attitude toward Tinder than their predecessors. They are more flexible in that they are looking for everything from sex, to relationships, to “situationships,” to travel companions. They make matches simply for conversation, to practice flirting, or for a little self-esteem boost.

    “I think that we forget that, for someone who’s 18 or 19, they’re not tired, they just started, and there’s positivity and excitement. Because of where Tinder is in culture, [using it] is a rite of passage,” said Nicole Parlapiano, the company’s vice president of marketing for North America. Tinder, which got its start on college campuses, wants to be the introduction into the world of online dating. Depending on the location, Parlapiano said, the share of 18-25 year-olds on the app “hovers around over 50%.”  

    Indeed, the age of people dating online has been falling—especially during the pandemic, according to Sensor Tower.

    Read more about how online daters are skewing younger.

  • The billion-dollar question

    How can companies make online dating less exhausting?

    A lack of responses, deceptive profiles, scams, racist comments, discrimination, harassment, and profiles that were more confusing or cliche than engaging—these fatiguing aspects of the online dating experience have existed as long as sites have. They put people off the apps or sites, undercutting a company’s bottom line. So the companies are looking to make dating online more enjoyable by fostering niche and organic communities, and adding paid features to boost meaningful engagement and visibility with desirable matches.

    Read more about how dating companies are making online dating less exhausting.

  • Brief history of online dating

    1994:, the first dating site, launches

    1995: eHarmony launches

    2007: The first iPhone goes on sale, laying the groundwork for mobile-first dating apps

    2012: Tinder and Hinge launch

    2014: Two homegrown Indian dating apps, Aisle and TrulyMadly, launch, as does Bumble

    2015: Tinder offers its first subscription tier, including its popular Passport feature

    2016: Tinder comes to India; Hinge relaunches with a groundbreaking “prompts” feature

  • Quotable

    “People bake into their baseline expectations the awareness that they probably won’t meet up in person anytime soon, which makes them feel much more comfortable messaging people from much further away and setting up virtual dates—everything from virtual tantra, to yoga, to deep conversations.”

    —Dating coach and industry consultant Steve Dean, on why his clients have been more willing to widen their geographical perimeter during the pandemic

    Read more about the rise of borderless dating.

  • Watch this!

    India’s homegrown dating apps are hoping to appeal to users outside urban centers by touting their Indianness. They ask questions that would be of particular interest to Indian users, such as about horoscopes or families, and appeals to changing cultural norms by empowering daters to find matches on their own terms. One app, called Aisle, even created an ad campaign as a nod to the “Indian way of dating.” The “one by two” soup share, for instance, is an old thrifty Indian trick large families would use at restaurants to pay less for a meal.

    Read more about how India’s dating apps are helping people date in small towns.

  • Get to know some niche dating apps

    You’ve heard of Tinder and Bumble and Grindr and OkCupid… but have you heard of these more niche dating apps? With a smaller pool, these dating apps might make it easier for users to find someone special. 

    💃 Chispa For Latino daters

    ✊🏿 BLK For Black singles

    🐭 MouseMingle For Disney fans

    Positive Singles For people with incurable STDs

    👩‍🌾 Farmers Only The tagline says it all: “city folks just don’t get it”

    👵 OurTime For people over the age of 50

    ⛪ Upward For Gen Z and millennial Christians

    🔯 J Swipe For Jewish daters

    Read more about how niche communities can make dating less exhausting.

  • Keep reading

    Covid-19 is adding an unexpected urgency to how we date. “I am not getting any younger, and I want a family…but more importantly, my family is desperate to marry me out.”

    Gen-Zers on Tinder want someone to march with, not just match with. The younger generation is more likely to mention issues like climate change, gun control, or social justice in their profiles. 

    China’s Tinder is quickly and quietly rising in India. Tantan was one of several Chinese apps making a splash in India in 2019. 

    This is what happens when Facebook even thinks of getting into your business. When Facebook enters the chat, no business is safe. 

    You could be flirting on dating apps with paid impersonators. Blame the drudgery of dating online.