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Yes, you can find love online

Consumer Reports: 44% found relationships with dating websites, apps

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – With the popularity of online dating apps and websites growing, Consumer Reports released research on digital love. The consumer watchdog surveyed nearly 10,000 online daters, and 44 percent said they either had or are in a serious long-term relationship because of an online dating website or app. In fact, some have even gotten married.

News4Jax dug through Consumer Reports' data to see who's really finding the perfect match and where.

Top 4 online dating sites

Here are the top four websites where online daters found their current partner or spouse, according to the Consumer Reports survey: 

Match.com 
Men: 32 percent found current partner or spouse
Women: 35 percent found current partner or spouse
Cost: Monthly fee can start around $20 per month (check site for rates/specials)

Eharmony 
Men: 17 percent found current partner or spouse
Women: 15 percent found current partner or spouse
Cost: Monthly fee can start around $26 per month (check site for rates/specials)

PlentyOfFish
Men: 7 percent found current partner or spouse
Women: 9 percent found current partner or spouse
Cost: Free

OKCupid
Men: 6 percent found current partner or spouse
Women: 8 percent found current partner or spouse
Cost: Free

Online dating sites can work, but can be frustrating

While Consumer Reports found 44 percent of 10,000 online daters found a long-lasting relationship, respondents gave online dating sites the lowest satisfaction scores Consumer Reports has seen for any rated service in two decades -- even lower than cable television companies.

Some of low satisfaction scores involved quality of matches, quantity of matches and amount of information provided about potential dates.

Melissa Emsley had been using online dating apps for five years. After a number of disappointing dates, she became frustrated and almost gave up. But, it's a good thing she didn't.  

"I was about to give up online dating completely, when I got a message from Brian. I definitely have that site to thank for my relationship today, so it can work out," said online dater Melissa Emsley.

"Online dating is different from shopping for other kinds of things like a sweater. Once you find a sweater you like, you get it. With dating, the sweater has to like you back," said Consumer Reports Money Editor Margot Gilman.

Consumer Reports says you can maximize your results by choosing the right site from the beginning. If you’re interested in meeting someone who say, likes the same kinds of movies as you do, or follows the same faith as you do, you can probably find a website that specializes in helping you find just that. Some examples are JDate and Christian Mingle.

Consumer Reports also found that OKCupid and Tinder are more popular among millennials, while Generation Xers and Baby Boomers are more likely to use a paid subscription-based dating website or app such as Match.com.

The consumer watchdog says you can improve your odds of finding love with the way you craft your online dating profile and offers advice here

But even the best digital match can’t guarantee chemistry. That’s why it’s important to go on a date to meet someone in person early in the process. Learn more about how online dating works.

Online dating safety is key

No matter which online dating site you try, your safety must come first. In fact, Consumer Reports found 56% women and 41 percent of men hesitated trying online dating because of concerns about scams. To help protect yourself, you can do the following:

  • Before meeting anyone in person, search the full name he or she has given online.
  • See if photos that come up in that search match the ones used on the online dating site.
  • When you do go on a date, make it a public place, giving all the details of where you'll be and who you'll be with to friends and family.
  • Experts say it is important to follow your gut and recognize warning signs. Examples of warning signs include someone -- who you have not met in person -- wants you to leave the dating site's secure messaging to communicate some other way. Or, someone gives you multiple excuses as to why he or she cannot meet in person.  

    Consumer Reports offers additional advice and warning signs to help you avoid the "Sweetheart Swindle."