I've Been Online Dating For a Decade — Is My Time Up?

In some capacity, I've been online dating for a decade. I've dabbled with Match, OkCupid, Tinder, Bumble, and Hinge, been put on waiting lists for the more exclusive apps like Raya, and watched trendy apps come and go (remember Salad Match, the site for singles based on their salad preferences?). I've given them all a chance to see what sticks, and almost 10 years later, I still have a blank slate. Of all the ways to meet people, online dating has been the least successful route for me.

Yet when I meet couples who've found success with online dating, their outcomes are obviously different, but the timelines are mostly the same. "I was on the app three days before I met her," one said. "We met within a few weeks of me being on the app," said another. These couples find love in what even Rihanna might deem a hopeless place, fairly fast. This made me ask myself, Am I doing something wrong? Probably not, as online dating is a pretty simple concept. But more interestingly, has my time on dating apps expired?

After one too many conversations with couples who found each other online within months of downloading an app, I decided to create a survey to test a theory: You have a brief window of time to successfully connect with someone on a dating app (meaning long-term relationship, marriage, etc.). I surveyed 100 people (via SurveyMonkey) in relationships that stemmed from online dating (Match, eHarmony, Tinder, Bumble, Grindr, etc.), and the results seemed to confirm this.

  • 16 percent met their significant other online within two weeks or less
  • 14 percent met their significant other online within a month or less
  • 29 percent met their significant other online within six months or less
  • 17 percent met their significant other online within a year or less
  • 12 percent met their significant other online within two years or less
  • 12 percent met their significant other online after more than two years on an app

There's a big spike around the six months or less mark, and then it goes down after that. In fact, nearly 60 percent of those surveyed report having met their significant other online within six months or less, and 76 percent within a year or less.

There could be a few reasons for this. For one thing, there's the mindset. I put more energy into online dating at the beginning. I remember when Tinder first came out and it was fun, fresh, and new. It was exciting to swipe and chat. When you have a more optimistic attitude, you tend to have more positive results.

This leads to the second reason why my time may be up. The longer I've been on an app, the more I've experienced online dating fatigue. In many cases, I swipe through the same people over and over again, no matter what app I'm on, and no one talks to each other. Or you start a conversation with someone and they either block you for no reason or troll you with weirdly unfunny jokes (sample message: "I'm a janitor and my best friend's Ben Affleck" " . . . OK?"). This makes me take an app less seriously than I did when I first started using it.

So is online dating a waste of time for me at this point? Undetermined. I'm still on a few apps, still swiping and chatting, but they definitely don't have the same hopeful promise they once had. And that's especially true after reviewing the results of my survey and thinking back on how long I've been doing this. Maybe I'm just waiting for the next new app to strike my fancy and make me excited about online dating again. Or maybe I'm just banking on the dating application that I've had the best results with: the in-real-life one.