While most Americans do not have firsthand experience with online dating, close to one in three adults know someone else who has tried the services.

Internet users are in somewhat closer proximity to online dating; 38% of them know someone who has used online personals.

Being a broadband user or someone who is single and looking in an area where it is difficult to meet people also increases the likelihood of being connected to someone with online dating experience: While equal numbers of urban, suburban and rural internet users have tried online dating websites, adults who live in urban communities are more likely than those who live in suburban or rural areas to say that they know someone who has used an online dating website; 35% of urban adults know an online dater, compared with 30% of suburban adults and 26% of rural adults.

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However, that still means that 26% are forging their own path in online dating, without others leading the way.

In general, younger people and those with higher levels of income and education are more likely to be tapped into the online dating scene via someone they know.

Though internet users often take advantage of other opportunities for dating, flirting, meeting, and investigating potential dates online, websites specifically geared toward online dating form the core of internet romance activities.

Panel data gathered by com Score Media Metrix shows that Yahoo Personals and attracted the most visitors in January 2006.

Looking exclusively at the current target population for these services, we find that 37% of internet users who say they are both single and currently looking to meet a romantic partner have gone to a dating website, which represents about 4 million people.

Online daters are generally younger and more likely to be employed.

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Some of those who have used online dating websites are now officially “off the market.” Of the 16 million American adults who have ever used online dating websites, about one quarter (23%) are now married or living as married.

Still, the majority (45%) of those who have visited the sites have never been married.

Much of this discrepancy may be explained by the general youth of online daters, who have not necessarily entered their prime earning years.