Singles Are a Tech-Savvy Bunch: Survey

young woman on couch surfing Facebook on a laptop.
Almost three-quarters of single Americans use Facebook, and about a quarter of both men and women clean up their profiles before accepting friend requests from potential dates, a new survey finds. (Image credit: Darrin Henry | Shutterstock)

Stood up on Valentine's Day? Maybe you should have cleaned up your Facebook profile. A new survey of American singles reveals that more than a third scope out potential dates on the social networking site before meeting.

In fact, singles are a tech-savvy bunch, according to the new survey, funded by dating website Almost three-quarters use Facebook, and about a quarter of both men and women clean up their profiles before accepting friend requests from potential dates.

The survey company MarketTools queried a nationally representative sample of 5,481 U.S. singles as well as 1,095 married people, ranging in age from 21 to over 65. This is the third annual "Singles in America" survey commissioned by

"The media portrays long-term love and commitment as being doomed," Helen Fisher, a biological anthropologist at Rutgers University and a scientific advisor for, said in a statement. "Sexting, new attitudes about virginity, the rise of 'friends with benefits,' emerging 'Internet etiquette' and women’s rising roles in courtship all presage a dramatically new dating landscape."

But, Fisher said, singles looking for love haven't changed their underlying motivations.

"Despite all we hear about hooking up and divorce, we now have significant data that shows American singles (including men) are earnestly seeking respect, trust, transparency and commitment in a relationship," she said.

Tech-driven dating

The Internet is playing an increasing role in the dating landscape, the survey found. About 48 percent of women and 38 percent of men "Facebook" their dates before meeting, and 49 percent of women and 27 percent of men say they'd cancel a date if they found something unsavory about the person online. Women's relative pickiness in online research might explain why 49 percent of single men say pre-date Googling is taboo. [Busted! 6 Gender Myths in the Bedroom & Beyond]

Still, people are curating their social network profiles carefully, the evidence suggests. Privacy settings are common, and 65 percent of singles say they don't post their relationship status on Facebook. Meanwhile, 27 percent of single men and 26 percent of single women make sure there's nothing incriminating on their profiles before they accept new friend requests from love interests.

Occasionally, Facebook brings about a relationship's end. About 16 percent of 20-something singles reported breaking up over something that showed up on the site. Among men, the top triggers were something in a date's pictures (55 percent of cases), a suspicious post on someone else's wall (42 percent) or a status update (21 percent). Among women, rogue wall posts were the most common trigger (48 percent). Pictures instigated 36 percent of Facebook breakups, and who their date was adding as friends another 27 percent.

Cellphones also play a role in dating, it seems. About 57 percent of single men and 45 percent of single women report receiving explicit photos or texts ("sexts") at some point in their dating life. Of these, 23 percent say they've shared their own sexts, often with more than one person. Sexting may have its benefits: Singles who report sexting are twice as likely to have gone on more than one first date in 2012 and twice as likely to have sex on the first date than singles who don't sext.

Romantic trends

All of this technology reflects more traditional motivations, the survey found. Friends-with-benefits relationships are becoming more common, with 47 percent of singles reporting one in their romantic past. And these casual arrangements are becoming more likely to get serious. In 2011, 20 percent of singles reported a friends-with-benefits relationship turning long-term. In 2012, that number leapt to 44 percent. [5 Myths About Polyamory]

There has also been a slight increase in women waiting for an exclusive relationship before sex, with the percentage rising from 25 percent in 2010 to 31 percent in 2011 to 37 percent in 2012. Singles are also becoming more optimistic about the long-term, with 90 percent reporting optimism about marriage in 2012 compared to only 76 percent in 2010.

Nor are married and single people as different as they might suspect. The social lives of singles and married individuals are remarkably similar, with 52 percent of couples and 46 percent of married people reporting going out between one and three times per week. Married people were more likely to cook at home, though, with 78 percent playing chef on a typical weeknight compared with 55 percent of singles.

Marriage had one other perk, the survey found: About 47 percent of married people reported orgasming at least 90 percent of the times they had sex, compared with 38 percent of singles.

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Stephanie Pappas
Live Science Contributor

Stephanie Pappas is a contributing writer for Live Science, covering topics ranging from geoscience to archaeology to the human brain and behavior. She was previously a senior writer for Live Science but is now a freelancer based in Denver, Colorado, and regularly contributes to Scientific American and The Monitor, the monthly magazine of the American Psychological Association. Stephanie received a bachelor's degree in psychology from the University of South Carolina and a graduate certificate in science communication from the University of California, Santa Cruz.