The Online Dating Industry: 20 Years of Love

Online dating in the last 10 yearsBy Erika Ettin

Online dating is not a new phenomenon. JDate first opened its proverbial doors way back in 1997, almost two decades ago. was founded even earlier than that. The concept was born in 1993, and the site launched for the first time in 1995, making this year its 20th anniversary. Happy anniversary,! 

I was an early adopter of online dating, using JDate back in 2001, before people really knew a thing about the concept. And if they did, well, they didn’t take to it. My parents, naturally, almost collapsed, assuming I was going to meet some stalker psycho killer-type, or worse, someone who wasn’t worthy of their daughter’s affection. Luckily for everyone, the worst that happened was meeting more than a few awkward men. 

The Dating Industry has Skyrocketed

In the last 20 years, online dating use has skyrocketed. It’s now over a $2 billion industry, and it still has plenty of room to grow. Pew Research Center published a study in April of this year showing just how much has changed.

When launched, only 14% of American adults used the internet. Today, 90% of adults use the internet, and of those, one out of every five adults ages 25-34 years old have used online dating, but it’s also increasingly popular with older singles, too. In fact, 25% of my client base is over 50.

Online dating is not a new phenomenon

We’ve All Tried Online Dating

Also, when I started my business helping people with online dating a mere four years and a few months ago, there was no such thing as a dating app. People were using the sites that most of us have heard of— JDateMatch.comOurTime, and Zoosk. But there was no Tinder, Hinge, Grindr, Coffee Meets Bagel, Bumble… and the list goes on.

It’s so rare now to find someone single who hasn’t at least tried online dating in some form or another. And it’s so easy now to get a date for many people. Wasn’t that the hard part before?

40 Million Americans Use Online Dating

According to U.S. Census figures and published by, 44% of adult Americans are single. Do you know what this means? Over 100 million people are unattached! And 40 million Americans use online dating services, or about 40% of our entire U.S. single-people pool.

So if you’re one of those people holding out hope that you’ll meet someone in line at the supermarket or next to you on an airplane, I’m not telling you to lose that hope. What I am telling you, though, is to try an online dating site, too.

The online dating industry is booming for a reason. Technology is your friend and it’s time to make the best of it. Better your chances of finding a date and love by signing up to an online dating site or app, and give it a try.


About Erika Ettin

Erika Ettin is the Founder of A Little Nudge and author of Love at First Site: Tips & Tales for Online Dating Success from a Modern-Day Matchmaker. She offers services to guide people through all aspects of online dating, from first click to first date. Erika studied economics at Cornell University and received her MBA from Georgetown University. Her company, founded in early 2011, has been featured in The Washington Post, NPR, News Channel 8, and, and Erika currently writes a syndicated column for the Chicago Tribune. Learn more about Erika here.



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