According to a 2015 study by the Pew Research Center, 15 percent of American adults have used online dating sites (web-based platforms like Match.com) and/or dating apps (location-based smartphone apps like Tinder).Participation by those 18 to 24 has almost tripled since 2013, and boomer enrollment has doubled.If you find your life partner on your first date, the site doesn’t make much money off you.

Perhaps that’s why, among those who said they had used multiple dating sites, 28 percent had tried four or more.

But our research also found that online dating, however painful and time-consuming, often does produce the intended result if you use it well—and persevere.

There’s a whole range of difficult human emotions to contend with: insecurity, disappointment, rejection, maybe heartache. “Sometimes there is nothing that clicks whatsoever,” says Julien Nguyen, a 30-year-old software designer from Austin, Texas, who has used Bumble and Tinder.

“Sometimes whatever chemistry we had just fizzles out.”Perhaps being in the market for a mate can’t be compared with using other services. D., a professor at the Harvard Business School who studies consumer behavior, thinks so.

You can do almost anything online these days: Check a bank balance, buy shoes, choose a mattress, order a cab.

So when Roberta Caploe was ready to start dating again after a divorce, she didn’t ask her friends to fix her up or feel the need to frequent bars or health clubs.Online dating is different from shopping for, say, a sweater, he explains: “Once you decide on the sweater you want, you can get it.But with dating, the sweater has to agree, too.”Another reason for the low satisfaction scores may be that “most dating sites have some misalignment between profit model and user experience because they are financed through subscription fees or advertising,” says Scott Kominers, Ph.“Our real-life and online identities are more and more interwoven.” Because of this cultural shift, online dating sites now have unprecedented reach into our lives. Reams have been written about online dating, but as far as we know, no one has put the sites to the test.They are gatekeepers to a massive population of potential partners; they control who we meet and how. So Consumer Reports decided to survey almost 115,000 subscribers about online dating and their experiences with it.Many dating sites rely on matchmaking algorithms the same way that Netflix uses them to recommend movies.