Friday, January 28, 2011

Finding Love on the Internet - A Reversal in Personal Stance, Essay #1

Written for: Social Dynamics of Communication Technology 509-A2, Gonzaga University, Dr. Alex Kuskis
Essay #1 - January 27, 2011

I am in the middle of an experiment. As I write this, I am also creating an online dating profile for According to Wikipedia, currently has over 20 million users with a 49/51 male to female ratio in more than 25 countries (retrieved from rates very high on different user-rated websites, including the number one spot on

"Online dating sites have revolutionized over the years and online singles dating has now become a popular dating choice for intelligent, professional single men and women seeking companionship, relationships and marriage. Online dating sites and singles sites have been modernized with a variety of fun tools for singles to use, creating excellent singles matches and subsequently resulting in much higher dating success rates. " (retrieved from

I never found myself drawn to participating in online dating sites. First, I've been in monogamous relationships the majority of my adult life. Even as I fill out the multi-page questionnaire that has asked me everything from religious preference and current income to whether or not I want my potential suitor to be interested in participating in the same activities together, my boyfriend of five years is sound asleep in the other room. I met him in a bar through a mutual friend in downtown Seattle. My previous long term boyfriend I met in college - we were in the same dorm together freshman year and lasted for three and a half years. Second, when wanting to find a significant other, I've had the time to devote to meeting and establishing relationships by more traditional means. I've had relative success in bars and clubs, as well as through friends who have set me up. It was my understanding that the methods I use can be applied to everyone. I admit that I generalized/stereo-typed the American public.

However, I now realize that the Internet today is merely facilitating relationships much the same way that newspapers did in the personal ads over the last 3+ decades (Thurlow, p. 139). The added advantage now is that these relationships can be maintained online with visual tools (like photos or skype) which can help determine whether or not to continue in the interpersonal relationship. According to psychologist Patricia Wallace, men and women tend to form romantic relationships online because they do the following (Thurlow, 129-130):

1. Create the promise of future interaction - the feeling of anticipation chatting to someone online is/can be similar to seeing someone in real life.

2. Birds of a feather - with, I was able to find people with similar interests pretty easily. I check boxed the things I like and others do the same. The ability to connect with "like-minded people" is a huge bonus that goes beyond the cliched "I like long walks on the beach and bubble baths".

3. Self esteem and humor - just because it's online, doesn't mean there aren't compliments and flirting. The sense of confidence that comes when someone talks about what they like about you translates both verbally and in written word.

4. Self-disclosure and intimacy - for those who choose to participate in more of a "blind date" situation - i.e. you don't know what the person looks like and they don't know your appearance, as well - solely basing your feelings on divulging your inner self can be a complete turn-on. You have a raw connection that is not based on the superficial features of a person. For those who choose more of a setting, the ease of typing what you're feeling without the same sense of guilt or embarrassment that you have with a physical meeting helps to build the intimacy as if you were in a private room with the person.

As I get older and busier, and without knowing exactly what the future holds, I believe I now understand and accept why millions of people are drawn to the ease of online dating. During my college years, I believed that online dating was a desperate step. It was low self esteem and lack of options that drove people online. It turns out I was wrong. According to a study by Kim, Kwon, and Lee, "individuals with high self esteem are more likely to use Internet dating services than are those with low self esteem when they are highly involved in romantic behavior" (Kim, Kwon, Lee, 2009) . This study is based off of three characteristics - sociability, self esteem, and involvement and concludes that it is those who are more social with higher self esteem and involvement with outside activities who are more likely to use Internet dating services as a tool to find romance.

It took about 20 minutes to set up a free profile for The site is definitely thorough, to say the least, with multiple pages of questions and preferences to make sure they're "matching you" with similar people. When I finally viewed my "potential matches", at first I was a little jaded. Pictures of men I wasn't attracted to lasted about four pages (sets of 16, I believe) until there was finally an image I liked. And he was perfect. Good looking, athletic, musical, had a job....and it only took me 30 minutes to get from A to B - not bad for an evening in. Truth be told that if I found myself in a position of not having a significant other, using a site like would no longer be an issue. In truth, getting to email and make connections with men by uploading a few images and talking via Internet makes it sound pretty easy.

According to stats on, over 120,000 marriages occur every year due to initial online encounters (retrieved from With that type of statistic, it leads one to believe that online dating can be successful and just as fruitful as blind dating or being set up by friends. Deeper research can done on how those marriages workout or the amount of people satisfied with the online dating experiences. There's also the issue of individuals using online dating for negative gains - either personal fulfilment in lying about themselves to gain positive feedback, using the more romantic site for a "hook-up", as well as taking advantage of a person for monetary gain. These concerns are all viable questions when it comes to the deeper problems of identity on the Internet. However, with those issues aside, people still continue to use online dating as a tool to meet potential love matches and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.


Balle, J. Facts on Online Dating. Retrieved from

Kim, M., Kwon, K., Lee, M. (2009).Psychological Characteristics of Internet Dating Services: The Effect of Self-Esteem, Involvement, and Sociability on the Use of Internet Dating Services. Cyberpyschology & Behavior. volume 12, number 4. Retrieved from gonzaga's online library. Retrieved from

Thurlow, C., Lengel, L., Tomic, A. (2004) Computer mediated communication: social interaction and the internet. London: Sage Publications

Top 10 Dating Sites. Retrieved from

No comments:

Post a Comment

A Drunk Experience of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (a review)

Preface: This post is extremely biased. And long. I have never read "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies" nor do I  desire to do so. T...