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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.

She signed up for JDate, an online dating site for Jewish singles.

“All kinds of people are doing it,” says Caploe, 54, a publisher who lives in New York City.

“It was—unbelievably—not a crazy experience.” Online dating has certainly lost its lonely-hearts stigma.

Just look at how many people seeking dates or mates are flocking to matchmaking sites and apps.

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).

“It’s a product of the growing normalcy of using social media apps,” says Moira Weigel, author of “Labor of Love: The Invention of Online Dating” (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2016).“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.Collectively, we spend huge sums of money on matchmaking, not to mention all the time and substantial emotional investment. Given that we usually rate products (like refrigerators) and services (like banking), this is new and fairly unusual territory for us.But as we explored the possibility of taking on this investigation, we discovered that 20 percent of our subscribers are either divorced or have never married, and might benefit from what we found.

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