Online dating now widely accepted, survey says

Stewart Scott-Curran/CNN

One in six recently married couples meet on an online dating site, according to a study commissioned by Match.com in 2009. That year, more than twice as many marriages occurred between people who met on an online dating site than between people who met in bars, clubs and other social events, the study reported.

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by Chris Patterson

(CNN) -- If eHarmony or Match.com features more prominently in your "how we met" story than a smoky nightclub or the produce aisle, you're probably not so reluctant to admit it.
 
Six out of 10 Americans now believe dating sites are a good way to meet people, according to a new report from the Pew Research Center's Internet and American Life Project.
 
That's up from 44% who felt that way in 2005, the last time Pew conducted a similar survey.
 
And barely two out of every 10 people (21%) still feel that "people who use online dating sites are desperate." Eight years ago, almost 30% thought so.
 
"General public attitudes toward online dating have become much more positive in recent years, and social networking sites are now playing a prominent role when it comes to navigating and documenting romantic relationships," reads a summary of Pew's report.
 
According to the survey, conducted with 2,252 adults in April and May, 11% of Internet users, and 38% of those who said they're currently "single and looking," have used online dating sites or apps. Among them, 66% said they went on a date as a result.
 
And nearly one in four (23%) said they actually met a spouse or other long-term partner through the sites.
 
In 2005, 43% who tried online sites actually went on a date. But 17% said they found long-term love, not terribly lower than the recent number.
 
But just because it's more common and accepted doesn't mean Internet mingling (Christian or otherwise) has worked for everyone.
 
More than half the respondents who have tried it (54%) said that someone they'd met had seriously misrepresented themselves in their profiles and more than one out of four (28%) said they'd been contacted through one of the sites "in a way that made them feel harassed or uncomfortable."
 
That number shoots up to 42% of women who have used dating sites, compared with 17% of men.
 
And maybe it's not all that surprising, but a growing number of people have used the Internet for intimate contact of a less formal nature.
 
Nearly one out of four respondents said they've gone online to check up on former partners, and a similar number said they've flirted with someone on the Web.
 
Young people between 18 and 24 are the most Web-flirtatious. About half (47%) said they've flirted from behind a keyboard.
 

The survey was conducted through telephone interviews in English and Spanish. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.3 percentage points for all respondents and plus or minus 2.5 percentage points for Internet users. 

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