Online dating is not only here to stay, it is increasingly the most common way we meet a partner.
Stats and trends for 2023 highlight how overall online dating users are predicted to hit 384 million worldwide this year.
But is your experience of online dating different depending on your race?
Plenty of data suggests the answer is most certainly yes.
The reality is that society’s racial attitudes spill over into our online dating habits, revealing some surprising truths.
This article will break down the most significant online dating statistics by race.
So let’s get started.
Online dating by Race Headline statistics
- White men and Asian women get the highest response rates in online dating
- Men show a preference for Asian women (with one significant exception)
- Most women show a preference for white men in online dating
- Black men and black women get the lowest response rates in online dating
- Although black women reply to the most messages, they get the fewest replies
- 47% of white people think online dating has made finding a partner easier, compared to only 30% of black people
- Asian men are viewed less favorably by women
- Over 80% of Millennials say they would marry someone of a different race
- 35% of people say they would prefer to date within their own race
- 85% of non-whites said they would prefer to date outside of their own race
- Only 4% of people think interracial marriage is a bad idea
- There is evidence that online dating is creating more interracial marriages
Online dating use by Race
The popularity of online dating differs around the world (more on this later).
But when it comes to race, the data suggests that online dating is universally popular.
Pew Center Research found in the US similar shares of White, Black, Hispanic and Asian adults report having ever used online dating apps.
- 34% of black people in the US have used online dating
- 29% of white people in the US have used online dating
- 34% of Hispanic people in the US have used online dating
- 26% of Asian people in the US have used online dating
This is also backed up by Statista data which presents a similar picture.
The graph below displays the share of adults in the United States (as of 2019) who have used online dating sites or apps by ethnicity.
As you can see, there is a pretty even split.
(Image source: Statista)
Yet more differences do emerge when different demographics were asked about their experiences of using online dating.
When another Pew Research Center survey asked whether online dating has made it easier to find a long-term partner, we start to see a more noticeable split.
As the report highlights:
“These views also vary by race and ethnicity. White or Asian adults are more likely than Black or Hispanic adults to say online dating has made finding a long-term partner easier. At the same time, Asian adults are also more likely than White or Black respondents to say online dating has made this harder.”
Has online dating made it easier or harder to find a partner?
- 47% of White people say it’s easier and only 19% say it is harder
- 30% of Black people say it’s easier and 23% say it’s harder
- 31% of Hispanic people say it’s easier and 28% say it’s harder
- 46% of Asian people say it’s easier and 33% say it’s harder
(Image source: Pew Research Center )
**Note** Asian adults were English-speaking only.
These stats start to suggest that different races and ethnicities have different experiences when using online dating.
So let’s dig deeper into that.
Online dating race preferences
We all have preferences when looking for a partner. Some are overt and others may be unconscious.
But how do society’s racial preferences and prejudices impact our online dating experiences?
Does your race or ethnicity impact your “success” rate in online dating?
Available stats would suggest so.
In one study, popularity was measured by response rates when online dating.
The Facebook dating app, Are You Interested (AYI), noted some interesting things.
The app allows users to search through profiles, saying “yes” to people they are interested in and “skip” the ones they aren’t.
It’s essentially, a lot like Tinder.
But when the user says “yes” the other person has the chance to respond.
After analyzing 2.4 million heterosexual interactions on the app, certain surprising patterns emerged:
- All racial groups preferred another race over their own.
- Overall, Asian women and White men appear to be the most popular.
- Asian women were more likely to respond to white men (responding 7.8% of the time).
- White men responded to black women less often than they did to White, Latino, or Asian women (responding less than 8.5% of the time).
- All men seemed to prefer Asian women (aka: they had the highest response rate) except for Asian men.
- All women preferred White men (aka: they had the highest response rate), except for Black women.
- Black women responded the most positively toward black men, but all other demographics responded the least to black men.
- Overall, both Black men and Black women got the lowest response rates.
- All men responded the least to Black women.
(Image Source: Quartz)
**Chart showing the percentage of users who got a response to their “yes” on the dating app ‘Are You Interested’**
Your race can impact how many responses you receive when online dating
We can see that certain ethnicities and races seem to have an easier or harder time creating connections online.
Notably, Black women are the least responded to. Meanwhile, White men and Asian women appear to be the most popular demographics.
This has been backed up by another study race and attraction from OkCupid which concluded:
- Although Black women reply to the most messages they get the fewest replies.
- Every race, including other Black people, give them “the cold shoulder”.
- White men get more replies from almost every group.
- Whilst White women prefer White men, Asian and Latina women prefer them “even more exclusively.”
- Asian men respond more to Latina women.
- Asian men receive fewer messages and matches.
Contributing editor of the African American-oriented online magazine ‘The Root’, Demetria Lucas, says it is disheartening:
“It’s always the same result and it’s always about how no one’s reaching out for black women. It can get very depressing for someone who is looking for love.”
(Image source: OkCupid)
**OkCupid graph showing men and women’s match scores by ethnicity.
Asian men are the only guys to not prefer Asian women
Despite Asian women being the most popular demographic on the app, the only exception was amongst Asian men.
They showed the greatest preference for Hispanic women.
Meanwhile, the OkCupid research found a bias against Asian men from everyone except Asian women.
Speaking on NPR, Journalist and writer Kat Chow said of the findings:
“What’s remarkable to me is that, according to that study, most men respond to Asian women — except Asian men. For a while now, we’ve heard of the (popularized? stereotyped?) plight of Asian men lamenting about how Asian women mostly date white guys, with videos like Wong Fu’s “Yellow Fever.” That stuff’s not new. But why haven’t we heard more about the dating preferences of Asian men?”
Whatever is going on, it certainly seems that our underlying preferences stem from deeper running assumptions about particular ethnicities and races.
Racial assumptions when online dating
Is it the perceived status of the white man that makes him the most popular option in online dating?
Similarly, do cultural stereotypes and male perceptions of Asian women play a part?
According to Janet Fang writing in Scientific America, Asian women have long been hypersexualized:
“Even before the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, Congress passed the Page Act of 1875, which banned the immigration of Chinese women by portraying them as prostitutes and threats to the institution of marriage. And you can’t talk about exoticizing Asian women without talking about the Korean and Vietnam wars. We’ve all heard stories about GIs and sex workers, and we’ve seen the movies. “Me so horny. Me love you long time”—you know what I’m talking about. I’ve had that shouted at me my whole life. Catcalls for us are always a bit racist.”
And these same racial stereotypes are likely to explain why Black women are the least preferred demographic in online dating.
26-year-old Parisian Christelle explained to Le Monde newspaper the prejudice she has faced:
“Sometimes people say to me outright, ‘I don’t want to date Black girls’ because we’re ‘too aggressive,’ or sometimes they say, ‘I prefer lighter girls”.’”
According to the Mashable article ‘Racism thrives in the online dating world,’ the apparent shunning of both Black women and men shines a light on a deeper problem.
That these preferences “reflect the shameful roots of racism in the United States.”
Roots that have cast Black men and women in unfavourable lights sexually and romantically:
“The risible idea that Black women are not suitable for respectable dating or marriage, but instead fitting for temporary sexual relations, stems from the Jezebel image, a sexually aggressive Black woman dating back to slavery, Jim Crow, and present in the 21st century.
“The ludicrous belief that Black men are dangerous and aggressive stems from the 19th century (and much of the early 20th century) when intimacy between Black men and white women was considered rape, despite consensual interest.”
Most people say they are happy to date outside of their race
When we look at the stats, it seems like our attitudes may be becoming more liberal when it comes to race and dating.
For example, OkCupid research in 2014 found only 10% of people said they’d be willing to date someone with a vocal racial bias. Whereas in 2008 that figure was much higher — 27%.
Over that 6 year period of time, OkCupid users certainly reported less racially prejudiced attitudes.
Less people also stated a preference for specifically dating inside their own race.
In 2008, 42% of users said they’d prefer to stick to their own ethnicity when dating. But by 2014, that number had dropped to around 35%.
Which on the surface suggests progress.
Although, dig deeper and already we see certain telltale signs of racial differences.
Because 85% of non-whites said they would prefer to date outside of their own race, and only 65% of white people said the same.
(Image source: Dating Advice)
When asked “Is interracial marriage a bad idea?” fewer than 4% of users answered that it is a bad idea.
And people appeared happy to answer this question. As it was one of the least skipped questions on OkCupid.
Perhaps suggesting it was a no-brainer?
In fact, as little as 1% of users chose to skip this question.
We’re more relaxed about interracial dating
This all tallies with a Pew Research Center study that found Millennials are more relaxed about interracial dating and marriage than previous generations.
The survey found that Millennials are significantly more likely to be accepting of interracial marriage.
85% of Millennials said they would be fine with a marriage to someone from any of the racial groups asked about (Black, White, Asian, Hispanic).
(Image source: Pew Research Center)
The data sounds promising. Plus there is also evidence that online dating is creating more diverse marriages.
Researchers attribute the rise in interracial marriage in the US over the last 20 years to the growing use of online dating.
(Image source: Forbes)
It certainly suggests generational shifts in our attitudes toward race and dating.
But rather importantly, we also need to remember that the majority of these surveys rely on self-reported information.
Which doesn’t always reveal the whole picture…
Underlying harmful racial stereotypes factor into online dating
Here’s the tricky thing about surveys:
They rely on honesty.
It’s very subjective to simply ask someone about their preferences. In a politically correct society, many of us want to say and do the right thing.
And that political correctness can sometimes mask our genuine underlying preferences and prejudices.
It’s not that people are intentionally being racist.
It’s simply that we all have racial biases. Some of which are subtle and others very deeply ingrained so we’re not even aware of them.
And that spills over into our online dating habits.
But our swiping habits tend to reveal more hidden truths. Because they rely on the facts of the data, rather than simply asking people about preferences.
The reality is that we don’t necessarily know ourselves as well as we like to think.
It is a reality highlighted in the book ‘The Dating Divide: Race and Desire in the Era of Online Romance’.
American researchers Celeste Vaughan Curington, Jennifer Lundquist, and Ken-Hou Lin analyzed a large amount of data from a major dating site.
- Online dating benefits white people the most.
- Online dating benefits black people the least.
- White daters are more likely to report having a preference for their own race than other daters.
- Latinas face family pressure to date lighter.
- Asian and Latina women associate white men with having a more gender-equal partnership.
- Black men face extreme stereotypes of being sexually aggressive.
- Asian men face extreme stereotypes of being insufficiently dominant and unmanly.
What people say and what they do can be very different things
Alongside highlighting certain preferences and prejudices, the research suggested that we are not as open-minded as we may like to think.
Celeste Vaughan Curington says they discovered differences in what people say and what they actually do:
“Some self-identified progressive white daters, who might identify with social justice, or as progressive, or a feminist, reported having mostly homogenous romantic relationships. In this self reflection, they’re recognizing the incongruities between what they say publicly and what they do privately.”
The researchers hypothesize that many of our subtle preferences seemingly fly under the radar.
Because according to co-author Jennifer Lundquist, they have been silently building for many years:
“We know at points in history, these preferences were codified into law, and then they became invisible. Now you suddenly have people using these apps and filling out a profile and having to say, ‘Oh wait, do I have a preference…Even when two people look very similar in terms of their education, background, and their answers to their personality questions, race is still such a maker or breaker in terms of who they ultimately contact.”
There may be a lack of confidence when interracial dating
It’s certainly not all doom and gloom when it comes to online dating and race.
Certain statistics show that racial boundaries are being crossed. And that people are more willing to respond to interest from someone of another race than they thought.
That’s according to sociologist Kevin Lewis of the University of California, San Diego.
His study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found something interesting:
People are more likely to respond to interest from someone of another race than initiate contact.
He suggests that high degrees of racial segregation might be dissuading us from crossing racial lines:
“It’s not that people’s levels of prejudice are changing; people are avoiding others from a different racial background because they think those other people won’t be interested.”
“Receiving an interracial contact and replying to it makes you send over twice as many new interracial messages in the short-term future than you would have otherwise.”
Essentially our instincts may be to approach people who look the same as us because that is where our comfort zone lies.
But we can be coaxed into greater confidence when others express an interest in us.
Although according to Kevin Lewis that can also be pretty short-lived:
“Once people go out and start initiating ties across racial boundaries, the odds of getting a reply are still relatively small. No one likes rejection,”
“These cross-race interactions are still by far the exception to the norm. People go out and have this newfound optimism about interracial messaging, and all of a sudden, no one replies. People revert to their prior habits.”
Are online dating app algorithms racially biased?
Researchers at Cornell University looked at potential dating app bias in a paper titled “Debiasing Desire: Addressing Bias and Discrimination on Intimate Platforms.”
Essentially they claim that dating apps that let you filter by race or that use algorithms that pair people up with the same race help to reinforce biases and divisions.
How are the algorithms racially biased?
By showing you “ideal” matches based on your history.
What that means is that if you’ve had several White matches in the past, there is an inclination to give you more of the same.
And as the cofounder of the dating app Coffee Meets Bagel told BuzzFeed:
“Many users who say they have ‘no preference’ in ethnicity actually have a very clear preference in ethnicity […] and the preference is often their own ethnicity,”
Yet this preference is based on assumptions the algorithm makes about us. Algorithms use past decisions to predict future preferences.
But as we’ve already seen, we aren’t always the best judge of our own preferences. Which research coordinator at Cornell Tech Jessie Taft says can end up limiting us:
“There’s a lot of evidence that says people don’t actually know what they want as much as they think they do, and that intimate preferences are really dynamic, and they can be changed by all types of factors, including how people are presented to you on a dating site,”
“There’s a lot of potential there for more imagination, introducing more serendipity and designing these platforms in a way that encourages exploration rather than just sort of encouraging people to do what they would normally already do.”
Online dating by country
To a certain extent, looking at online dating in different countries may reveal certain race statistics too.
Particularly when it comes to online dating app usage.
For example, we can see that online dating popularity is lagging behind in countries like India, where only 5.8% of people use it. That’s compared to almost 22% of people in the US.
The popularity of online dating worldwide
- US (21.9%)
- UK (19.1%)
- France (12.7%)
- Germany (11.8%)
- South Africa (10.2%)
- Brazil (10%)
- Japan (9.5%)
- China (9.1%)
- India (5.8%)
(Image source: Statista)
Different apps are popular in different parts of the world
Different countries also seem to favor different dating apps.
So where you live may well be a deciding factor in which of the reported 8000 available dating apps you decide to download.
Overall, the most worldwide downloaded apps across the globe are:
- Plenty of Fish
- Ok Cupid
(Image source: Business of Apps)
The most popular apps are far-reaching across the world.
Take Tinder for example.
It is available for download in 190 countries and offered in over 40 languages.
11% of Tinder users are White, and approximately the same percentage of users on the platform are African American.
But if you are looking at that list of online dating apps and see some unfamiliar names, it’s not surprising.
As I say, where you live plays a part in deciding upon your “go-to” app, as does what you are looking for.
So whilst Tinder sits at the top of the chart for popularity in the US, Badoo is the frontrunner in Europe and South America.
There may also be racial factors that dictate where you prefer to swipe.
The best apps tailored to race
With so many apps available, it’s no surprise that certain apps aim to tailor their experience toward different countries, cultures, and races.
Tantan initially had mainly Chinese users but has reportedly grown to become the largest Asian singles community in the world.
It now has over 360 million users globally (with 90 million registered users in China).
It claims to have Asian culture more deeply embedded.
It says through dating and matching features exclusive to Asian people such as astrology and tarot compatibility. And it says it tailors to Asian taste in dating scenarios and interests.
BLK App is the most popular African American dating app. The app is exclusively for Black singles over the age of 18.
The app creators claim that “BLK is the #1 dating and lifestyle app for the Black community creating a warm, inviting, and supportive space where Black love is celebrated”.
Meanwhile, BlackPeopleMeet is one of the oldest and most established online dating sites for Black people, and reportedly has more than 5 million visits each month.
There are also smaller and more niche race-based dating apps on the market.
Apps like RezFox, which is driven toward indigenous dating.
Brad Pine from the app’s development team says:
”The difference between Rezfox and other apps that are out there is that we are Native specific … for Indigenous people across North America,”
Most popular race-specific online dating apps:
- Best app for Asian dating — Tantan
- Best app for Black dating — BLK app
- Best app for interracial dating — InterracialMatch
- Best app for Latino and Latina dating — Latin American Cupid
- Best app for Japanese dating — Japan Cupid
When online dating statistics start to get broken down by race, we begin to see our subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) prejudices reflected back at us.
For example, our preference for White men and Asian women.
And our lack of interest directed toward other racial demographics — namely Black women and men, and Asian men.
But we also see glimmers of hope too, that point toward shifts in our cultural attitudes around race and dating.
It seems that more than ever people are willing to consider dating and marrying outside of their own race or ethnicity.
And what’s more, there’s evidence to suggest that online dating is already leading to more interracial marriages.
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