Do You Know These Facts about Online Dating?

59% of Americans view online dating as a good way to meet people. Little-known facts about the evolution of matchmaking and personal ads. How matrimonial agencies and lonely hearts columns laid foundations for singles sites and mobile dating apps.

It would be tough to find a person in the developed world who had never heard about online dating. The industry of digital personal ads became the second highest in sales of paid content (you probably can guess which one occupies #1 on the list). Despite the overwhelming presence of free dating sites, experienced singles value time more than money and ready to pay to the venues that are able to connect them with classy matches.

Today online dating branched from personals to mobile apps, allowing love-seekers to hook up with like-minded people anywhere, anytime. Large digital personals created mobile applications to stay current. There are well-known and trusted dating sites in every possible niche from LGBT to dog-lovers and marriage-minded Ukrainian women If you have an interest, there is an online platform to find similar people for a relationship.

But is this digital matchmaking a new trend? Certainly not. In tracing the history of the modern online dating, facts take us to the first personal ads in the late 17th century.

In fact, personal ads are just slightly older than the modern media. After the invention of the first journals and newspapers advertisers grabbed the opportunity to use the new medium — and so did singles, in their eternal quest to connect and find love.

A brief outline of the evolution of dating ads

1600’s — Global spread of the printing press

Modern newspapers were invented in Germany in the first decade of the century. The trend quickly spread through the rest of Europe. In 1690 the first newspaper was published in America.

Late 17 century

No one knows when exactly a smart individual sought to advertise his search for a partner through a printed medium, but there were already personal ads in 1685.

Early 1700s

“Lonely Hearts” columns became a common fixture in newspapers and magazines. During the same period matrimonial agencies that helped bachelors to find a good wife became popular. The preference was to get married by the age of 21.

1727 — Helen Morrison from England committed to mental asylum for placing a singles ad

Apparently, it was more than simply inappropriate for a woman to seek love through a Lonely Hearts column. The poor lady was committed to an insane asylum for 4 weeks by the mayor. All she wanted was “someone nice to spend her life with.”

1800’s — Matrimonial agencies and publications

Plethora of marriage-procuring publications such as Matrimonial News, The Wedding Bell, Matrimonial Herald, Marriage Gazette were devoted to matchmaking. An appropriate way for ladies was to involve a matrimonial agency in order to find a decent husband.

1800’s — Rich men seeking concubines

Aristocrats jumped on the opportunity to solicit contacts through press. Ads of a 70-year-old baron seeking a lady 16–20 with good teeth and small feet could be legally published in media.

1908 — The Exact Science of Matrimony by O. Henry

The tale of Jeff Peters and Andy Tucker in the collection of short stories “The Gentle Grafter” depicts a fake matrimonial agency. The fraudsters published ads offering a connection with a rich widow for a handling fee of $2 and managed to attract 100 responses a day from hopeful suitors. Bear in mind that an average worker made mere $200–400 per year at that point, so the scheme was extremely profitable. The spread of scams was the reason why personal ads went into a temporary decline at the time.

1957 — Dr. George W. Crane created a computer matchmaking service

Forms by applicants were processed by an IBM computer. Scientific Marriage Foundation claimed to have arranged 5 thousand marriages.

1965 — Operation Match by Harvard undergraduates

Young researchers offered computer matching for $3: Just answer a questionnaire and get a list of potential candidates. The service was directed to young students trying to get a date rather than arranging committed relationships.

1980s — Video dating

Users were recording videos of themselves to be viewed by potential dates. Matchmaking agencies from local outlets to mail order bride catalogues jumped on the opportunity to make love-seeking more exciting with the use of video personals.

1985 — First .COM domain name registered

The road to e-commerce had been established.

6 August 1991 — World Wide Web became publicly available

The father of the modern Internet, Tim Berners-Lee, managed to make his dream of “a large hypertext database with typed links” a reality. There were no fanfare from press, just a post in an online newsgroup read by a tiny number of computer geeks.

1992 — The first picture uploaded online

It was an image of the French female group Les Horribles Cernettes.

1993 — World Wide Web declared free to use by anyone

This was the major factor allowing the contemporary Internet to develop.

1994 — launched

Today it lists 12 million users.

1995 — launched

The site remains one of the largest singles communities online.

1998 — You’ve Got Mail movie

When we saw Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks falling in love after meeting through a dating site, we knew there was no going back. Online dating clearly hit mainstream. It replaced regular singles ads and kept gaining.

2002 — Wired Magazine predicts domination for online dating

The founder of Rufus Griscom anticipated: “Twenty years from now, the idea that someone looking for love won’t look for it online will be silly, akin to skipping the card catalog to instead wander the stacks because ‘the right books are found only by accident.’” He concluded that “the market of love is becoming more and more efficient.” Not everyone was convinced at the time and people who connected online often were hiding this fact by pretending to have met in a bar or by way of common interests.

September 2012 — Mobile dating app Tinder launched

The location-based mobile application allowed users to connect with local singles. Plethora of dating apps followed.

February 2016

Pew research centre stated that online dating had lost its stigma, with 59% of Americans seeing it as a good way to meet people. Both young people and mature singles 50+ increased their use of websites and apps to find potential partners as compared to previous years. 5% of Americans who are in a committed relationship or marriage stated they met their partners online. The actual number could be significantly higher as some people may still feel uncomfortable to disclose they have met online.

What the future of online dating holds for us?

One thing for sure: It’s here to stay. People will never lose the desire to find someone to love, just the means change to make it more efficient .