Elssy Rosario

(Rock Hill, S.C.) — As Valentine’s Day approaches, those who are single are often reminded that falling in love can be hard.

As the world has become more digital and the internet has become an integral part of life, more relationships are starting online; but is this the best place to find love?

A 2016 Pew Research Center study found that 15 percent of Americans reported they had used an online dating site or app, such as Bumble, Match, PlentyOfFish or Tinder.

According to eHarmony, another popular dating site, roughly 40 million Americans are using the internet to find a relationship, including older people.

The estimates concerning the number of relationships that start online often vary, with some stating it’s as low as 5 percent and others saying it’s as high as one-third.

Additionally, there is some research that suggests online dating can help produce stronger relationships.

Many dating apps feature matching services that allow users to swipe right on the photos of other users they’re interested in meeting and swipe left on the photos of those they’re not.

So it begs the question: Is it possible to swipe right for love?

“For some it would depend if you believe in love at first sight, said Ricky Rapin, 24. “Personally I don’t. I believe it’s just a place to hook up. It’s probably based on your personal preference, but it’s worth a shot if you’re struggling (to find love).”

According to MuchNeeded.com, a site where consumers can offer advice for purchase decisions, the U.S. is “the most Tinder-obsessed country,” with roughly 1.6 billion swipes per day. It’s also estimated the average Tinder user logs into the app 11 times per day.

“You can swipe right on love, but I do have mixed feelings for what Tinder is used for,” said Carter Baran, 21.

“I believe we live in a hook-up culture, but within that culture I think you can find genuine people to be friends with and they can ultimately become a significant other,” said Baran.

However, according to a Tinder survey, 80 percent of users said they were seeking a meaningful relationship.

“I believe you can find love on online dating apps,” said Keshaiya York, 23.

“I met my boyfriend recently on Facebook and I thought honestly, he was a catfish (pretending to be someone else), but we met up and he was pretty cool,” York said. “We have been dating for 11 months and I do believe he is the one.”

Natalie Ditgen, 36, said she has tried a number of different dating sites, including Christian Mingle and OkCupid.

“They’re useful for people. I’ve been on, I think every single one of them, they all have their own purpose,” said Ditgen.

“They all have their own thing to them. You can make them what you want, it’s all what you put in. The more important part is to meet people in person, because the longer you sit and chat online, then the more you develop a relationship that might not have any chemistry in person.”

Ditgen said she hasn’t yet found love through a dating app, but she is still optimistic.

“You can for sure find love online, I haven’t, but I know people who have,” she said.

“If you understand the reality of online dating and what it entails, then you have a chance to find that love,” said Michael Smith, 23.

“I’ve never used online dating, but can you find love? Absolutely,” said Nick Doughty. “It’s not me personally, but if you are willing to try new things, then for sure.”

For Baran, dating sites have opened a whole new world.

“I have traveled a lot and these platforms were ultimately used to meet some pretty incredible people. Love is good, why not give it a chance?”