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Perhaps that’s why, among those who said they had used multiple dating sites, 28 percent had tried four or more.

But our research also found that online dating, however painful and time-consuming, often does produce the intended result if you use it well—and persevere.

“It was—unbelievably—not a crazy experience.” Online dating has certainly lost its lonely-hearts stigma.

Just look at how many people seeking dates or mates are flocking to matchmaking sites and apps.

In fact, people over 50 are one of the fastest growing segments.

“It’s a product of the growing normalcy of using social media apps,” says Moira Weigel, author of “Labor of Love: The Invention of Online Dating” (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2016).

“Those are among the most popular dating sites in the world, and when you’re fishing, it just makes sense to drop your line in the most crowded ponds.” That’s generally true unless you have a particular guiding factor, such as religion, race, or politics, in which case you can go to a niche site like JDate or Black People Meet.

“All kinds of people are doing it,” says Caploe, 54, a publisher who lives in New York City.There’s a whole range of difficult human emotions to contend with: insecurity, disappointment, rejection, maybe heartache. “Sometimes there is nothing that clicks whatsoever,” says Julien Nguyen, a 30-year-old software designer from Austin, Texas, who has used Bumble and Tinder.“Sometimes whatever chemistry we had just fizzles out.”Perhaps being in the market for a mate can’t be compared with using other services. D., a professor at the Harvard Business School who studies consumer behavior, thinks so.“Our real-life and online identities are more and more interwoven.” Because of this cultural shift, online dating sites now have unprecedented reach into our lives. Reams have been written about online dating, but as far as we know, no one has put the sites to the test.They are gatekeepers to a massive population of potential partners; they control who we meet and how. So Consumer Reports decided to survey almost 115,000 subscribers about online dating and their experiences with it.

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A whopping 44 percent of respondents who tried online dating said the experience led to a serious long-term relationship or marriage.

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