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The usage of dating sites and apps is also rising, and it’s rising among different age groups

The usage of dating sites and apps is also rising, and it’s rising among different age groups

Years ago, online dating was viewed by many as the last resort, a place of desperation, and the end of the road for those unable to find a relationship the “normal” way. However, times have seriously changed. Nowadays, it is often the first option rather than the last for someone seeking romance.

Like anyone else, more and more doctors are turning to online dating to meet single men and women outside of their immediate social circles. With a chaotic schedule and long hours, online dating can be an easy way to, at the very least, make an initial introduction. For single doctors, online dating may be the easiest way to get back into the fray. Setting up a basic profile takes only a few minutes, and then it’s off into the cyber world.

Critics say that online dating has been overhyped and is probably one of the worst places to find someone if you want a relationship. Yet much of the early stigma surrounding the concept of finding romance on the Internet has dissipated, and its popularity is soaring. Still, it does have drawbacks.

“Online dating is kind of like shopping at Amazon,” said Kurt,* a 52-year-old hospitalist living in the Los Angeles metropolitan area. “You window-shop, make a selection, and hope for the best. But it’s kind of vague about the return policy.”

(*Editor’s note: Some of the physicians in this article preferred that we use only their first names to identify them.)

He’s been shopping for the past 3 years with mixed success.

With the popularity of online sites such as, Zoosk, eHarmony, OkCupid, and Plenty of Fish, and apps such as Tinder that are used on mobile phones, online dating is now considered “normal” and mainstream.

Recent data from the Pew Research Center show that the overwhelming majority of Americans feel that online dating sites are a good way to meet people. In their updated 2016 report, the center found that 15% of all US adults admit to having visited online dating sites or used mobile dating apps. This translates to about 40 million people, with users ranging from teens to retirees, coming from all walks of life, and representing all professions—including physicians.

For example, the proportion of people using dating sites and apps between the ages of 18 and 24 years old has almost tripled from 10% in 2013 to 27% in 2016 when the Pew survey was updated. Online dating has also increased in popularity among people aged 55 to 64 years old, with about 12% reporting they have used an online dating site or mobile dating app at some point in their lives compared with 6% a few years earlier in 2013.

Denise Prigge, MD, is a 29-year-old pediatrician practicing in Bremen, Germany. She decided to try online dating because she wanted to check out other options for meeting people. “I wanted to see who could be out there waiting for me,” she said. “I have my friends, and I did not have a hobby where I could meet someone or time to go out partying.”

Prigge pointed out the additional problem that even if she met someone or had time to party, it was difficult to meet a man who was her intellectual equal, and her relationships never worked out if they weren’t. Meeting men in her work environment was also problematic because “all the good ones are either married or in a relationship,” she explained. “Those who were not—there was probably a good reason for it, or they were married to their job.”

Online Dating Makes It Easy

There really isn’t anything all that new about online dating. It is simply a modern-day version of the classified ads that used to run in newspapers, which in turn, were a modern-day spin of matchmaking. One of the major drivers of the growing popularity of online dating is the time factor. People can browse through profiles anywhere and anytime on a computer, tablet, or smartphone. It’s far less time-consuming than going out to a social event, and much easier to approach someone on a website than in person.

Greta, a 37-year-old pulmonary and critical care specialist from Utah, found that being a physician made it even more difficult to meet people in everyday life, but online dating helped her circumvent some of the challenges.

Having moved to different cities for medical school, her internship/residency, and her fellowship, it seemed that the older she got, the harder it was to meet people.

“I was finding it increasingly difficult to meet potential dating partners, and ‘flirting’ at work when trying to take care of patients seemed to break some sort of code of conduct for me,” she said. “[The field of] medicine has lots of hierarchy, and as a woman, I also found that to be a barrier for meeting a partner at work.”

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