Study: Increase in online dating users

MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) -- A new study by the Pew Research Center finds an increase in online dating.

According to the Pew Research Center, 54 percent of Americans say relationships that begin on a dating app or site are just as successful as those that begin in person.

“We're just hardwired for loving and emotional connection. So I think online dating can be a great way to really effectively meet that need,” says Dr. Shilagh Mirgain, a distinguished psychology at UW Health.

With just one click, the dating world is at our fingertips.

“One study estimated by 2040, 70 percent of people will be looking for love online, so I think each year we're seeing an increase in online dating,” Dr. Mirgain explains.

While online dating is one way to dip your toes into the dating pool, experts say in-person contact is vital to a solid relationship.

“I think in this day and age we can start to build up a fantasy of a relationship based on a text or an emoji, but I really encourage people to meet the person, but then really spend the quality time to form a solid foundation,” says Dr. Mirgain.

With a Valentine’s Day that falls on a Friday this year, that means there is a lot of face-to-face time at Vintage Brewing Company this weekend. Couples old and new are celebrating their relationships.

“As you age and evolve, you just learn more about each other and more about intimacy,” says Kay Lera of Madison.

She and her husband Rob have been together since 2000 and married since 2003.

Just one table over, Anthony Cheek and fiancé Michaela Colestock have been engaged since December 2019.

Neither of the couples met online, but know many others who have.

“I have a dear friend who met her husband online in a chat room, so before the online dating apps came through. They met and they've been married and have to children,” Lera tells NBC15 News.

“I've had, one of my college friends is engaged to her Tinder boyfriend that she met on Tinder. I've had a lot of good Tinder stories, surprisingly with my friends,” Colestock says.

While Colestock and her fiancé did not meet via a dating app, technology did play a role in their modern romance.

“I just so happened to see him at the gym, and noticed that he looked really good,” she says. “So of course I was going to let him know that he looked really good, and then a few days later he messaged me on Facebook and was like, 'Would you like to go out sometime?' And I was like, 'Yeah, sure. Why not?'"

Whether you are looking for a match via an online dating site or in-person, experts remind us to stay positive on the search for love.

“I encourage people to really hold onto their value, what they have to offer and to remain optimistic and hopeful. It just takes that one match to find Mr. or Mrs. Right,” Dr. Mirgain says.

While some find their sweethearts online, digital dating can go sour.

According to a recent study by BestVPN,org, Wisconsin is ranked as the third worst state in the country for online catfishing.

Make sure you take steps to keep yourself safe when you meet for the first time, by setting up a first date in a public place and planning a way out if something goes wrong.