For teens who meet romantic partners online, it is common for those relationships to never actually progress to the point of a physical meeting. Given the number of years today’s teens have been using social media and the volume of content posted to social media profiles, potential suitors have access to a motherlode of material on their crush.
Some 31% of teens who have met a partner or partners online, indicate that they have been involved in a romantic relationship with someone online they never met face to face, while 69% of teens who have met a romantic partner online say they have met them in person. One high school girl describes falling down the rabbit hole of a crush’s profile.
Overall, 3% of all teens have met a romantic partner online but never met them in person. And we talked for about a week, and then I decided he actually seems kind of chill. And then I took it slow, like, ‘cause meeting someone over the Internet isn’t always the best idea. Such a move, she noted, will reveal to the profile owner via a notification that you’ve been looking through their profile.
Teens in our focus groups related their experiences meeting partners through online venues. So if you’re going to do it, like do it very carefully.”“Well, I said…we just said, like, do you want to hang out at the movies sometime? And we kind of met there and then we just kind of became romantically involved. And if the feelings aren’t reciprocated, such liking of old photos can border on disturbing.
Overall, 4% of all teens ages 13 to 14 have dated someone they met online, compared with 11% of all teens ages 15 to 17. A little more than one quarter (28%) of teens have searched for information online about someone they were currently dating or interested in.
The survey also found that among teen daters who have met a romantic partner online, Facebook is cited more often than other sites as the primary source for online romantic connections. And I met a girl on there and she lived up in [town]. She just had a lot of problems with him and she…they talk all the time, but it just … And the searching doesn’t end when the relationship is over; 13% of teens (or 38% of teens with dating experience) have ever searched for information online about someone they dated or hooked up with in the past.
Teens in our focus group described a variety of practices for flirting on social media. But despite the wide range of communication technologies available to modern teens, the time-tested tradition of asking in person continues to be the main way teens would ask out someone they were interested in.
One high school girl explained: “A little bit more bold over text, because you wouldn’t say certain things in person. you just wouldn’t say certain things in, like, talking face to face with them because that might be kind of awkward. Cause they’re not really there.” Many teens use social media as a venue to flirt and interact with potential romantic partners, but for those on the receiving end of those advances, social media flirting can often turn in a much less desirable direction. Some 52% of teens say if they wanted to ask someone out on a date, they would usually do that in person.
They’re old, and I’m like, why did I post a photo of me?Fully 35% of all teen girls have had to block or unfriend someone who was flirting in a way that made them uncomfortable, double the 16% of boys who have taken this step. ‘I don’t know you.’ I’m like, ‘Why are you talking to me? Girls are far more likely than boys to wait for the person they’re interested in to initiate contact.Notably, this phenomenon is not just limited to older girls who might have greater exposure to dating and relationships. Nearly half of girls (47%) say they usually wait for someone they are interested in dating to ask them out first, compared with just 6% of boys.A high school girl described meeting a boyfriend online: “For me personally, it was from Facebook and it was a friend of a friend. And then we started Skyping, and after that we just kind of started a relationship.”“I’ve met a person over Instagram, actually. But it didn’t last that long.”“I was dating this girl that I met through a social website that probably hardly anybody knows about. A high school girl explained: “It looks a little more creepy.And then like we just like really liked each other. And, I mean, you…it’s not like you just kind of comment on their picture like, hey, here’s my number. I’d be kind of creeped out if someone mentioned my photos from a long time ago, especially because those photos tend to be very embarrassing.
” Flirting and otherwise letting someone know you are interested in them is typically the first step to building a romantic relationship, and teens approach this in numerous ways across a range of online and offline venues.