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Internet dating

Abstract: What is Internet dating, how does Internet dating work?

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Internet dating

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Written by: Ola Jönsson, psychology student at Umeå Universitet, supervised by Gunborg Palme.
First version: 01 Nov 2007.
Latest revision: 15 May 2014.

What is Internet dating?


Internet dating as a way for people to meet has grown substantially over recent years. Various dating sites offer you an option to add a personal dating profile which tells about yourself and your interests. Profiles can be as detailed as you want. Often dating sites have a form to fill out to match one's own profile with other people's profiles. In the profile, you can include photos of yourself and what criteria you have for the person you want to meet.

What people make use of Internet dating

Who is using Internet dating? According to studies, it seems to be the same people who use the Internet, that is many people in the Western world with the exception of the elderly.

Differences to regular dating

The differences between Internet dating and dating where you meet face to face is that the Internet is an opportunity to be more anonymous. Your real name need not be disclosed, and any images that a person shows can be flattering or manipulated. Anonymity can be an advantage in the sense that people may dare to play a role that for various reasons they dare not usually play. The distance between people is less important on the Internet. People may have contact even if they live in different cities. Another difference is that communication between two people on the Internet is different from face-to-face communication. You can take your time composing text messages, compared to making a phone call. In a conversation, you need to respond quickly; timing is very important.

Why some people prefer internet dating

People who perceive social situations as uncomfortable can experience the Internet as a better way to get in contact with other people, because the time pressure is relieved. Something that may be perceived as an advantage is that traditional gender roles need not prevail in the same way when people meet on the Internet, compared with other dating. However, it is difficult to say what happens to gender roles when people get together in real life.

Another advantage is that it can be painful for both parties to invite to a date when you do not know if the other party wants to meet you. This may be perceived as less of a hassle at internet dating because people are anonymous, and because it's assumed that those use internet dating really want a contact. Many people also feel that they dare to make contact with others who they would normally hesitate to approach, since it "costs" less and is less embarrassing to be rejected when you contact someone on the Internet, compared with real life.

Advice for successful internet dating

As with dating in the traditional sense, appearance plays a big role. Since the Internet does not have the same opportunity to see someone as in real life, the presentation you give of yourself plays a big role. Your chances of getting in touch with others on the Internet is increased if you post pictures of yourself on your dating profile. No matter how you look, your chances of being contacted increase if you include pictures of yourself.

In the beginning when people make contact via a site, contact will be through text messages of some kind. It is important to consider that the only way that you present yourself is through the text that you write. So it is good to think about the way you write, so that it best conveys what you mean, because misunderstandings can occur when you cannot see the person you are conversing with.

There is no general advice to give if you want to date on the Internet. The main difference in comparison with the traditional way to meet is that in the initial stages of the encounter you have not seen each other. After having met each other in real life you will proceed more or less in the traditional way.

Examples of dating sites

There are very many different dating sites on the Internet. Most are addressed to heterosexuals, some of them are free and others cost money.

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