An Australian study has found that gay and bisexual men are increasingly using online dating sites and dating apps to meet long term partners.
The rise in these apps and websites has been typically associated with a culture of hooking-up or one-off sexual encounters.
And while they do get used for this, it appears men are also using the services to meet romantic longer term partners.
Researchers at the Kirby Institute at the University of New South Wales in Australia found that almost 80% of the 4,215 gay and bisexual men they surveyed had had met their primary regular partner online.
The results suggest that the use of online dating to meet sexual and romantic partners has largely displaced other methods of meeting partners in Australia.
“In the past, men who used the internet to meet partners might have been described as a particular type – and usually this was associated with ‘risky’ behaviour,” commented Associate Professor Garrett Prestage, chief investigator on the study.
“Use of the internet to meet partners is so ubiquitous among gay men that claims of it being superficial make little sense. These days most men meet their long term partners on the net; not just one-off sexual contacts,” he said.
While online dating apps tend to be associated with younger people, results from the study suggest that older men were more likely to have met their primary regular partner online. The overwhelming majority of men surveyed, regardless of age, had met their current partner online, particularly in recent years.
The results of this study also suggest that the population of gay and bisexual men using the internet for this purpose is now broadly equivalent to all sexually active gay and bisexual men.
“Men are more likely to meet via online methods these days than through other means, but risky behaviour occurs regardless of where men meet,” said the researchers, who added that, “Interventions and information intended to reduce risk need to treat online dating and hooking up online as the ‘norm’.”