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Online dating seems as normal as grocery shopping or going to the gym. Today, it’s just something you do. You’ve probably sat at a wedding and listened to vows with a mention of the dating app the couple met through. EHarmony reports that 40 million Americans are on dating apps, and people from all 18+ age groups are using them. But people have varying feelings about this fairly new avenue for dating. Pew Research Center reports that about half of people feel dating apps have had a neutral impact on the world of dating and relationships. Those who feel positive about it say it creates more options. However, those who feel it’s been a negative thing say online dating facilitates lying.

There is without question a level of mystery and confusion when you open up that little screen to meet someone. What do the people on the other side really want? What are their intentions? We did some research to find out. Here’s what people are really looking for on dating apps.


User Intentions

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The Pew Research Center (PRC) report found that explicitly stated intentions are high on the priority list of online daters. Their data showed that 72 percent of women want a user’s profile to list the type of relationship they’re looking for and 53 percent of men want to see that as well. Translation: whatever you’re after – hookup, serious relationship, dating or other – put it out there. People like transparency.


Shared Interests

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According to the PRC data, sharing common interests also matters a lot to online daters. It showed that 40 percent of women and 32 percent of men want to see users’ hobbies listed on their profiles. To get more details on that, eHarmony investigated exactly which activities make users more attractive to others. It turns out the top interests women want to see in men include exercise, travel and theater. And the top interests men want to see in women include exercise, photography and travel. (It looks like almost everybody wants a vacation and gym companion).



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Hookup culture might be hot, but it turns out a lot of people are still looking for love. Research from YouGovAmerica found that the majority of people on dating apps – 54 percent of men and 59 percent of women – are on there looking for a monogamous romantic relationship.

Plot twist: research from the journal Computers in Human Behavior published in ScienceDirect found that the existence of dating apps is facilitating more cheating. The study suggested people in committed relationships, who were already prone to cheating, were more likely to act on it because of the accessibility provided by dating apps.


Religious Affiliation

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The PRC data showed there are a decent number of online daters who care about religious affiliation — 32 percent of women and 18 percent of men to be exact. The religious community as a whole has taken to online dating more in recent years. A poll conducted by True Love Dates found that 80 percent of Christian singles have tried online dating and 44 percent are on two to three apps. But, not everything is at it seems. A story from PBS shows that same-religion marriages are on the decline. And young people dating outside of their religion is on the rise. So while common religion might be a stated priority of online daters, not many wind up in same-religion relationships.



A Good Time + A New Friend

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No not that kind of good time – literally something fun to do. The PRC data showed that 34 percent of online daters are just looking for something fun or entertaining to do. It looks like online dating is just the solution to boredom for some. Additionally, 25 percent of users are just on the apps looking for a new friend. Lonely quarantine times spurred this trend, with Wall Street Journal reporting that the number of millennials and Gen Z users on dating apps looking for friends increased in the pandemic.

Not everyone is happy about this, though, as seen through a heated debate on Quora. Some daters feel that app users looking for friends are wasting their time.



Casual Sex

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If you suspected many users are looking for a hookup, you weren’t wrong. A whopping 26% of people on the apps are, says PRC, just looking for casual sex. But the app breakdown might surprise you. Tinder, the app that’s anecdotally for hookups, actually has many female users (60 percent) looking for a real relationship, according to the eHarmony research. Meanwhile, a total of 33 percent of women across all apps are just looking for casual sex.

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