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Introduction

Over the past two decades there has been an increasing trend towards people using the internet and dating applications to meet new partners.

While there are no official statistics on the number of Australians using online dating sites, with industry bodies claim that around 4.5 million Australians are using this dating method each year, with online dating being the second most preferred way to meet a new partner behind introductions through family and friends.  This is ahead of other traditional channels including interest-based clubs, holidays, pubs or bars, work and social networking sites.  Reduced stigma has promoted increases in online dating at all ages.

Commentators claim the advantages of internet dating include: convenience and ease of access to a large number of potential partners, particularly for individuals interested in partners of a specific orientation, lifestyle, or if they live in an isolated area; the opportunity for determining common interests and chatting before actually meeting face-to-face; the chance to control the seriousness and speed of relationships being sought; and access to the compatibility ‘matching’ profiles of many sites.

However, there can also be negatives and users should exercise some caution with dating and romance scams accounting for over 30 per cent of total reported scam losses to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.  Guidelines were developed in 2012 to encourage inclusion of appropriate scam warnings and information on websites; establishing vetting and checking systems to detect and deal with scammers; and make available to consumers a scam complaint handling mechanism.

Relationships Australia’s November 2017 monthly online survey asked respondents for their opinion on questions about their use and awareness of online dating.

Relationships Australia State and Territory websites