"The fact that online dating exists is a boon for singles, and it is a great addition to the way singles can meet potential partners," said Eli Finkel, a social psychologist at Northwestern University in Chicago.
If you were under 30 and turning to online dating, there was a perception that something was wrong with you, Evans says. "You're going out and seeing bands once a week, you're constantly around people, the idea is you don't really need dating sites." But that's started to change in the past couple of years, he says.
More 20-somethings are on online dating sites than ever, and their numbers are growing. Cashing in With traditional powerhouses and e Harmony all but saturating the market for older adults seeking committed relationships, savvy web entrepreneurs are betting that young singles represent an untapped revenue source.
"It was a social tool." Cantrell is part of a growing number of young people turning to dating websites -- once reserved for middle-aged and romantically unlucky singles -- to find mates or kick-start their social lives.
In turn, they're spurring inventive changes to the historically homogenous industry.
"When you're 45, twice divorced and four kids, you want to be in a stable relationship; you want to be on Match.com," Evans says. Let's go see Radiohead play.' There's a breeziness to (the new models)." Free, edgier sites like Ok Cupid and Plenty of Fish report much stronger numbers among 20-somethings.