Online dating has become a massive industry and it is estimated that there is over 5,000 dating websites worldwide and close to 25 sites with over 1 million subscribers (onlinedatingmagazine.com, 2012). It is estimated that the industry is valued at roughly four billion US dollars worldwide (Blossfeld & Schmitz, 2011). There is very little research into this new dating landscape, particularly in Ireland. This study examined the experiences and attitudes of a random sample of the population aged between 18 and 39. A total of 191 participants were split into two groups based on age. The first predicted hypothesis was that the older group of adults would have a more positive attitude towards online dating than the younger group of adults. The second predicted hypothesis was that there would be a concern that online dating threatens the future of long term relationships.
The design of this study was quantitative with a quasi-experimental design; descriptive statistics were used as well as independent-sample t-tests used to compare scores and explore the differences in attitudes. The study showed that there are significant differences in attitudes towards online dating between younger and older adults with older adults having a more positive attitude. The study also revealed that there is no major concern that online dating threatens the future of long term relationships. The study suggests that people who use online dating or form relationships with people they meet through online dating may experience negative stigmatization and stereotyping. At the same time, as people approach their mid to late 30’s their attitude towards online dating may become increasingly positive.