The rise of online dating and open relationships

Oct 27, 2023

Results suggest that online dating is a growing in popularity, especially for younger Australians and those in newer relationships. Open relationships are also more common than once thought, with many in middle age or longer relationships engaging in this practice.


Online dating is growing in popularity

In our 2017 survey on online dating, 60% reported that they had engaged with online dating sites and applications. This new data provides insight into how common it is to meet a partner online.

Among our website users, the majority met through family/friends (19%) and dating apps (18%). National statistics, collected in our Relationship Indicators survey, demonstrated people were more likely to meet through family or friends (29%), at a social event (19%), through work (16%) or in an educational setting (14%) than online (12%).

This could be due to the demographics of our website users, which skews towards those aged 30-50. Among website users there was little discernible difference between how people met their partner and their age, meaning older people were just as likely as younger people to meet their partner online. However, the national statistics showed a notable difference between the age of the person and how they met their partner.

Almost 1 in 4 younger Australians met their partner online

Among the general Australian population, almost 1 in 4 (24%) of people aged under 44 years met their partner online, while only 6% of people aged over 44 met their partner online.

Where people met their partner was also contingent on how long they had been together. Most people (77%) aged 44 or over had been with their partner for over 20 years, suggesting they met their partner before dating apps were popular. In fact, only 6% who had been together for over 20 years met online, while 37% who had been together less than 10 years met online.

6% of Australians have been in an open relationship

6% of website users said they had been in an open relationship before. Open relationships were defined as a being in a relationship with more than one person at a time, where everyone is aware and consents, unlike infidelity.

This number was the same as the Australian population data. In the national statistics, 6% said they had been in an open relationship – 61% were men, and majority (23%) were aged 35-44 years. People who had been in their current relationship for 11-20 years were most likely (29%) to have been in an open relationship. However, it should be noted that they may have been in an open relationship in the past, and it does not necessarily refer to this long-term relationship.

A 2023 survey of 50,000 Australians conducted by readers, found that 1.4% of Australians are in an open-relationship. This matched 2014 CSIRO data showing 1% of Australians were in an open relationship (Ritchers 2014). These surveys only asked about current partners, whereas our survey asked about any previous relationships. Additionally, the demographics of the survey were not reported on. Relationships Australia believes that these findings suggest that open relationships polyamorous relationships, consensual non-monogamy and ethical non-monogamy may be an emerging relationship type that is growing in popularity.