Why Online Dating is for All Ages

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According to a recent study aiming to find the most desirable single in 2014, you'll have the most luck if you're 25 years old and rich.

The study pooled information from about 81,000 singles between the ages of 25-35 on the dating website Plenty of Fish, along with about 1.8 million messages to see what traits were the most desirable in both men and women who are online dating.

For both sexes, men and women in their twenties received more messages than those in their thirties. Women who were between 25 and 26 years old received the most messages, with a sharp decline once they turned 33.

It seems that both men and women prefer singles who make money. Women who earned between $50,000-$75,000 and men who earned between $75,000-$150,000 attracted more prospective dates than those earning less. And men who have law degrees are also likely to be the most successful in garnering attention online, with 33% more messages than the average single guy.

While data like this paints a certain picture of online dating, it's good to keep in mind that this is information gathered from only one online dating site and from just one demographic. If we were to look at online dating as a whole, the fastest-growing segment is singles over 50. And many people prefer paid dating sites like Match.com or eHarmony because daters tend to be more serious if they buy a subscription.

Free dating sites have always skewed younger, because many young daters aren't interested in serious relationships and want a chance to meet a lot of people. Paid dating sites tend to attract users of all ages who are on different levels of the dating spectrum - from casual to marriage-minded.

Twenty-somethings are also gravitating towards dating apps rather than online dating sites. Apps like Tinder, Hinge, and Are You Interested have been on the rise, mostly because of the ease of creating a profile and meeting people immediately, whereas most online dating sites require a little more effort and time before you're meeting each other face-to-face.

So while the POF study might feed into the stereotypes that persist about online dating (that singles prefer if you're young, earn a lot of money, etc.) - there are in reality a wide variety of singles who are online dating. Don't be afraid to explore a number of dating sites and see which one works best for you. This is the best time of year to do it, since more people than ever are online dating!