By KATIE ANN SCHUBERT A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA 2014
2014 Katie Ann Schubert
To my family Thank you for your support.
4 ACKNOWLEDGMENTS I thank my parents for their endless support in my educational ventures. Further, I thank all the women who volunteered their time and stories for this research. Lastly, I would like to thank my committee for their hard work and patience throughout this research process.
5 TABLE OF CONTENTS ACKNOWLEDGMENTS ................................ ................................ ................................ .. 4 ABSTRACT ................................ ................................ ................................ ..................... 7 CHAPT ER 1 INTRODUCTION ................................ ................................ ................................ ...... 9 Research Questions ................................ ................................ ............................... 10 2 LITERATURE REVEW ................................ ................................ ........................... 12 Sociology o f Gender ................................ ................................ ............................... 12 Gender and Dating In America ................................ ................................ ............... 17 Role of Sex in Relationships ................................ ................................ ............. 18 Gender Scripts ................................ ................................ ................................ 22 Evolution and Mate Selection ................................ ................................ ........... 24 Partner Perception ................................ ................................ ........................... 26 Role of Gender in Personal Advertisements and Speed Dating ....................... 27 Internet Dating Subculture ................................ ................................ ...................... 28 Internet Dating and Mate Selection Theories ................................ ................... 32 Motivations of Internet Daters ................................ ................................ ........... 35 Culture and Online Dating Sites/Dating Scripts ................................ ................ 37 Self Disclosure and Authenticity in Online Dating ................................ ............ 38 Implications ................................ ................................ ................................ ............. 43 Justification for using Qualitative Interviews ................................ ........................... 45 3 DATA AND METHODS ................................ ................................ ........................... 48 Participants ................................ ................................ ................................ ............. 48 Interviews ................................ ................................ ................................ ................ 50 Coding and Analysis ................................ ................................ ............................... 53 4 FINDINGS, PART I : CHANGING GENDER SCRIPTS AND INITIATION ............... 57 Picking out Specific Characteristics ................................ ................................ ........ 57 Scripted Rules and Expectations ................................ ................................ ............ 65 Convenient way to Meet Men ................................ ................................ ................. 70 Conclusion ................................ ................................ ................................ .............. 74 5 FINDINGS, PART II : DATING EXPECTIONS HAVE REMAINED THE SAME ....... 76 ................................ ............................ 76 Internet Dating is Artificial ................................ ................................ ....................... 81 Men are Just Looking for Sex ................................ ................................ ................. 84 Conclusion ................................ ................................ ................................ .............. 89
6 6 FINDINGS PART III: DISCOMFORT/STIGMA/TABOO ATTACHED TO INTERNET DATING ................................ ................................ ............................... 91 7 CONCLUSION ................................ ................................ ................................ ........ 96 Summary of Significant Findings ................................ ................................ ............ 97 Areas of Future Research ................................ ................................ ..................... 103 Significance and Contributions of this Study ................................ ......................... 104 APPENDIX INTERVIEW QUESTION GUIDE ................................ ......................... 106 REFERENCE LIST ................................ ................................ ................................ ...... 107 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH ................................ ................................ .......................... 113
7 Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate School of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy By Katie Ann Schubert May 2014 Chair: Connie Shehan Major: Sociology Internet dating has become much more common in the past decade. This past June (2009), dating sites reported 27.5 million unique visitors (Comstock, 2009). It is projected that in 2011, dating sites in the Uni ted States alone will collect a whopping $932 million (JupiterResearch, 2007). Although Internet dating is gaining popularity, there has been very little research done on how Internet dating is changing the way people date. I conducted semi structured inte rviews with 30 women between the ages of 18 35 and asked them about their experiences dating online. Interviews were analyzed using grounded theory and coding of the interview data focused on how participants did gender and Internet dating, but focusing on My analysis shows that although the way women are doing gender while participating in online dating is changing, women are nonetheless continuing to do gender. The way that women do gender has been altered by the increased use of Internet dating, but these women continue to adhere to many of the traditional their potential partner. West and Zimmerman explained that no one can opt out of going
8 gender. Although the women interviewed reported doing dating differently with the use of the Internet, doing gender is still a pertinent theme in many of these interviews. Furthermore, many of the women interviewed reported feeling he ld accountable for doing gender appropriately, even while engaged in Internet dating.
9 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION Most of us who have found our soul mates relied on the randomness of the bar scene or the party circuit or life in general. This serendipity is culturally important we have a collective investment in the idea that love is a chance event, and often it is. But serendipity is the hallmark of inefficient markets, and the marketplace of love, like it or not, is be coming more efficient. Rufus Griscom Wired Magazine (2002) Throughout history, human beings have courted and intimate relationships have been one of the most important pair bonds in society. These facts remain true even today. However, the process by which people court and form relationships has been altered with the advent of new technologies. One such technology has been the rise of Internet dating sites. The formation of intimate relationships is becoming increasingly dependent on these online techn ologies, and because of this, researchers must understand the psychological and sociological intricacies associated with online dating. Researches have long studied how men and women view and treat intimate relationships differently. The differences we s ee in regard to gendered performance in relationships are not static our society defines how men and women should behave in relationships. In the past few decades, our society has undergone numerous changes pertaining to how people treat and define relatio nships, the roles people perform in their relationships, and how relationships are initiated and maintained. Internet daters are not immune to these gender scripts. This research will predominantly focus on the gender scripts of online daters in the United States, focusing predominantly on what is displayed in dating profiles and the rules associated with relationship formation. In doing
10 focusing on the ways people behave i n accordance with their gender and the types of sanctions in place when people do not behave accordingly. Despite the growing popularity of the online dating industry, there is still a tremendous amount we do not understand about Internet dating and the people who use online dating services. This research will propose to further these avenues of thought and contribute to the research on Internet daters and dating. The goal of this study is to better understand gender scripts associated with initiating onl ine relationships. Lawson and Leek (2006) found people who participate in Internet dating feel more comfortable with the Internet dating process than the traditional dating process because they are not expected to adhere to rigid gender stereotypic roles. If this is true, the initial process of Internet mediated relationships should show less conformity to traditional gender roles. The interviews conducted in this study will focus they behave and the ways in which they believe their date expects them to behave. Research Questions Every culture has unique gender scripts in regard to relationship formation and dating. Although these scripts have changed over time in the United Stat es, they are still present. These scripts are also present when individuals meet and date others with the use of Internet dating services. This research will attempt to uncover the types of scripts that are present when individuals meet online. This resea relationship formation. The major focus of the interviews is how female Internet daters For instance, do initiation strategies differ for women if they are
11 dating onlin e versus engaged in more traditional dating styles? How do the beginning stages of Internet mediated relationships differ from other more traditional relationships? Do women feel they are less committed to stereotypical gendered behavior online? These ques tions will shed light onto how and when initiation of intimate relationships occurs. For purposes of this research, initiation will be defined as a) who sends the first message online to begin communication, b) who initiates the first in person meeting, an d c) who asks for the second in person meeting. The interviews will many emails must be exchanged before phone numbers are exchanged, how many phone calls must be ex changed before a face to face date is set up, etc.).
12 CHAPTER 2 LITERATURE REVEW Sociology of Gender The field of sociology has progressed the understanding of gender in our society. The sociological work on gender sees gender as an institution, frame, or social structure to which everyone in society looks for behavioral guidance. West and Zimmerman (198 whose competence as members of society is individuals, but something individuals do in their social interactions. This behavior ptual, interactional, and micropolitical activities that cast particular pursuits as expressions of masculine and feminine constructs reproduced in social interactio ns. mechanisms that can explain and produce social inequality. The authors explained that by taking i nto consideration race, class, and gender, a more thorough understanding of
13 13). Race, gender, and class are all accomplished in social interactions Risman (2004) also built upon the theory that people do gender. Risman argued that gender should b e conceptualized as a social structure. She explained that by doing this, our understanding of gender will be advanced in several ways. First, it will help researchers analyze the interconnection between gendered selves, the cultural expectations that help explain interactional patterns, and institutional regulations. Second, the understating of gender as a structure will enrich theory this concept does not attempt to override other theories, but works to compliment them. Third, it will allow us to investig ate the direction and strength of causal relationships between gendered phenomenon within many different dimensions. And last, is helps us understand institutional change and individual identities. When we begin to take into consideration how gender inequa lity is being produced within each dimension, we will be better equipped to intervene and change the structure. She explains that gender inequalities are reproduced in everyday interactions, even if done so subconsciously. Furthermore, cultural gendered in teractional experiences make egalitarian heterosexual relationships extremely difficult to accomplish. Using structural language will help detangle how inequalities are constructed, recreated, and deconstructed. explained that gender is a social institution. She argued that institutions guide the way people in a given society live and behave. Classifying gender as a social institution allows researchers to understand why people continua are aware of it. Martin also offered several other reasons why framing gender as an
14 it highlights power, it reinstates the mate rial body, it acknowledges disjuncture, conflicts, and change, and it challenges the macro micro separation. The notion that gender should be conceptualized as a social structure (Risman, 2004) or social institution (Martin, 2004) extended the doing gender perspective. Male and female behavior is reproduced through social interaction. Society provides its members with a blueprint on how to behave, dress, and think in accordance with their gender. Whether we refer to this social phenomenon as an institution or a structure, it comes back to West and Ridgeway (2009) discussed the ramifications of societal members not behaving within their gender norms. Ridgeway believed that people use gender as a primary frame to guide their behaviors and interactions with others. Ridgeway aligns herself 48). These categorizations are based on gender stereotypes and help us understand them and ourselves in relation to them. If behavior is not molded behavior. Because our society places so much emphasis on preconceived notions of appropriate masculine and feminine behaviors, we hold these notions true and sacred. When they are not followed, our society punishes those who go against them. Similar to West and Zimmerman, R idgeway explains that gender is almost always a background identity for individuals and, in that way, becomes a way of acting. Therefore, in order to understand particular organizational or institutional structures (on a more macro level
15 approach) we must first be aware of the significance of the background effect of the society takes without taking into account the background effects of gender as a primary cultural frame for orga be deeply rooted in both macro and micro spheres. There have been many criticisms of the doing difference approach. For instance, Collins et al. (1995) asserted West and Fenstermaker treate d gender as the most fundamental category of difference and then simply added on class and race. Collins only framework llins also critiqued oppression of race, class, and gender that produce positions characterized by really occurring in terms of oppression. Thorne (1995), Weber (1995), and Maldonado (1995) also offered criticism of class, and sexuality, we need a range of metaphors and theories honed in many sites of Similarly, Weber explain seems the overarchi
16 rooted systems of oppression and inequality in America. In other words, it is not enough to simply say people are doi ng difference in regard to race, class, gender, and sexuality. strengthened in more formally acknowledging the constraints imposed by these macro level forces in the social en should have given more attention to historical circumstances of race, class, and gender. West and Fenstermaker (1995) address this specific criticism by acknowledging that accomplishments of race, g ender, and class are embedded in history. They state that viewing these things as accomplishments help us understand how social structures are reproduced at any particular sociohistorical moment. Many of the theorists who came after West and Zimmerman bui lt upon the idea gender; the research to date on gender in American society seems to agree that there are clear notions of how gender should be done. When these agreed u pon gendered behaviors are confused or not followed, there are consequences. These gendered analyzing how and where gender fits into society, academics hope to bring at tention to deep foundation of this proposed study. Gender is the predominant variable in this research. Internet daters as more than just passive participants, but as actors in a complex process of
17 America, will focus on a variety historical events that have shaped the way dating occurs today as well as different theories that explain the dating process. Gender and Dating In America There are a few crucial historical milestones that have shaped the way intimate relationships are viewed today. Freer dating practiced in the United States coincided with the popularization of the automobile and telephone in the early 1900s. With these technologies, teenagers were better able to meet in private without the supervision of parents. The feminist movem ent in the latter half of the 20 th century also changed the relationships. The feminist movement stressed equalitarian gender performance in the family and greater freedom for women t o explore their own sexuality. The movement changed many dynamics within relationships. For instance, Rudman and Phelan (2007) found that having a feminist partner was linked to healthier relationships for women. Men with feminist partners also reported gr eater relationship stability and sexual these relationships were reported to have more quality, equality, and stability. The advent of new forms of technology cell p hones, computers, the Internet has also shaped the structures of relationships and how relationships are initiated and and the Internet have facilitated communication and the formation of intimate relationships. Discussion of these technologies will be discussed in greater depth later in the paper.
18 There has been much research on dating in America, which has focused on a multitude of topics. First, much research has been c onducted on the role of sex in relationships. The role of sex in relationships has been changing; it has become more socially acceptable for young adults to engage in sexual behaviors early in the be discussed, as well other common beliefs about sex and relationships. Second, research has focused on gender scripts during relationship formation and during the relationship. Third, many researchers have focused on evolutionary aspects of mate selection including the homogamy and filter theory. Fourth, research on dating has analyzed how partner perception affects relationships. This research focuses on the principle of least interest and self perceptions in relationships. Last, some researchers have fo cused on the role of gender in personal advertisements or speed dating events. All of this research is relevant to the research on gender and dating. However, this particular study on Internet in which to view Internet dating practices. Role of Sex in Relationships The first area of research revolves around the changing role of sex in relationships. Rose and Frieze (1989) explained that cultural norms for the first date are For instance, first dates are guided by stereotypes of gender. Men are expected to initiate, plan, and pay for the date while women are supposed to allure the man and facilitate conversation on
19 the first date. Older research on dating etiquette and gender norms has found the same (Westervelt, 1957; Scott, 1965; McGinnis, 1969; Allen & Briggs, 1971; Lipke, 1971; Landers, 1983; and Carlson & Fitzgibbon, 1983). However, it seems that what comes after the first date has changed substantially over the past few d ecades. The kind of dating that previous generations were familiar with is no longer common. Tom Wolfe (2000), and American journalist, explained, Only yesterday boys and girls spoke of embracing and kissing (necking) and getting to first base. Second bas e was deep kissing, plus groping and fondling this and that. Third base was oral sex. Home plate was going all the way. That and girls have never heard of anything that dainty. kissing, now known as tonsil hockey, plus groping and fondling this and that. Second base is oral sex. Third base is going all the way. Home plate is learning In other words, dating has changed from so mething done for functional purposes (finding a lifetime partner), to something done for recreational purposes. Furthermore, Christopher and Sprecher (2000) found that societal values regarding dating have become more liberal in the past few decades. The authors explained that because young adults are waiting longer to be married and because there are more lenient attitudes towards premarital sex, young adults are more sexually active and have more partners than they did in the past. Men and women are wait ing much longer to get married. In 2010, the average age for first marriage for males was 28.2 and 26.1 for females (U.S. Census Bureau). However, men and women are still engaging in sexual behaviors as frequently up until marriage; and studies show the ge nders perceive these behaviors differently, which will be discussed in greater depth below.
20 aged women. The study yielded a few major findings: 1) Marriage is the major life goal for the majority of college women, and most would like to meet a spouse while in college, 2) Relationships between college men and women today are often characterized by either too little or 6) College women say it is rare for college men to ask them on dates, or to acknowledge when they have become a couple, 7) The culture of courtship has largely become a hook up culture with almost no shared norms or expectations, 8) The women in the study reported a wide variety of feelings about hooking up, but many women said that after a hook up they often felt awkward and sometimes felt hurt. the dominant script for college student intimac y. However, these students also reported desiring a more conventional relationship in the future. Bogle explained that college campuses have become sexual arenas, and that these arenas were permeated with double standards for gendered sexuality. Bogle foun d that more women than men were disappointed with hookups because they desired more conventional relationships. specifically among middle upper class females. The authors found that much behavior
21 Hamilton and Armstrong explain that women are often guided by a rela tional imperative (that normal women should always want love, romance, relationships, and marriage). Morgan and Zurbriggen (2007) also explored how sexuality is used in heterosexual relationships. The authors explored the sexual and relational messages yo ung adults received from their first significant dating partner. The authors found that women reported receiving messages from male partners that indicated a high interest in sexual activity as well as pressure to engage in sexual activity. Women often res ponded to theses messages by giving in to unwanted sex. However, many women set sexual boundaries. The authors noted that whereas men often established heteromasculinity through expressions of high sexual interest, female partners often balanced this appro ach with their own traditionally gendered displays of feminine virtue (reining in male sexual desire and setting boundaries on sexual activity). The authors concluded that traditional gender scripts are still the predominant message in the early stages of first significant relationships. Schmookler and Bursik (2007) analyzed how gender and gender role differences influenced the valuing of monogamy in emerging adults who were currently in heterosexual relationships. The authors found that men reported greate r distress with a women were found to value both emotional and sexual monogamy more than men. When male infidelity occurred, it generally occurred to satisfy sexual nee ds; when female infidelity occurred, it generally occurred to satisfy emotional needs. The authors also found that both men and women regarded monogamy as equally relationship enhancing. All the participants of this study were unmarried college students (t he only
22 prerequisite to take part in the study was to have been in a relationship for 6 months or more). Willoughby and Carroll (2010) explored the relationships between attitudes towards both marriage and cohabitation and sexual experience during emerging adulthood. They found moderate evidence that marital attitudes are related to sexual experience but stro ng evidence of a relationship between attitudes towards cohabitation and sexual experience. Sexually active participants were more likely to have positive attitudes toward cohabitation. However, sexual intercourse in the past and the number of sexual partn ers did not seem to impact attitudes towards marriage with the exception of those who stated that being married was a very important goal for them. in hand with West and surrounding how men and women should behave sexually are also changing. Men and terms of sexuality and gender. Gender S cripts The second area of research revolves around gender scripts during relationship formation and the relationship. Although styles of dating are changing, men and women Most of the studies on gender and intimate relationships focus predominantly on how gender how men and women view relationships. Understanding gender as a social institut ion or frame from which our behavior are guided may help researchers understand the internal
23 workings of dating practices, whether these practices are traditional or modern (facilitated by the Internet). As was mentioned previously, men and women often gui de their behavior using gender scripts provided by the society in which we live. These scripts are present in every interaction, and are especially evident in courtship rituals. This is not to say that these scripts are static and unchanging, or that every one abides by them. These scripts are, however, evident in many cases. Below, some of the most prominent studies on gender and dating will be explored. Research shows that men and women begin intimate relationships differently; they have different initiat stages of a relationship. One such study performed by Clark, Shaver, and Abrahams (1999) found that men tended to be more active and direct in the beginning stages of relational development and were more interested than women in the goal of sexual intimacy. The authors also found that women used passive and indirect strategies more often than men in the beginning stages of a relationship. Other research on gender scripts has focused on sex d ifferences in self disclosure. Self disclosure is seen a personality trait (Dindia and Allen, 1992), and there seem to be notable differences in this personality trait when comparing men and women. Jourard (1961), one of the first researchers to develop a self disclosure role requires men to appear tough, objective, striving, achieving, unsentimental, and structur e will not allow man to acknowledge or to disclose the entire breadth and depth of his inner experience to himself or others. Man seems obliged, rather, to hide much of his real self the
24 ongoing flow of his spontaneous inner experience from himself and oth ers (Jourard, 1997, p.35). Dindia and Allen (1992) found that gender differences in terms of self disclosure are not as large as previous researches suggested. They criticize the academic community for perpetuating the myth that there are large sex differe nces in self disclosure. West and Zimmerman would explain these differences in gender society, as Jourard (1961) explained, there are clear ideas of how men should behave Similarly, conversations containe d few unmitigated intimate stories (only 2 out of 40). Most of the romantic stories told by these men were done so because the men had serious concerns about issues such as losing their sense of independence or accepting or deflecting responsibility for mi stakes or poor choices they made in their relationship. disclosure in this study was also minimal, as regulated by our societies Evolution and Mate Selection The third area of research revolves around evolutionary aspects of mate selection. Feingold (1992) explained that empirical research has found several important qualities that influence mate selection for both genders: physical attractiveness, socioeconomi c status, intelligence, honest, sincerity, charisma, expressiveness, and sense of humor. Early sociological research in the field found men focus more on physical attraction when filtering potential partners, whereas women are
25 more interested in socioecono mic status and ambitions of prospected partners (Feingold, 1992). Sociologists explained that these differences were evolutionary important to the human species. Women invest more energy into the rearing of children, and would like a man who is able to fi scally help. Men, on the other hand, and attracted to women who look as if they are young enough to reproduce. For years, academics have noted the importance of personality and values in mate selection. Burgess and Wallin (1943) explained that people te nd to marry those with characteristics similar to their own; a principle academics have been calling mates to find ones that they are similar to (Kerckhoff & Davis, 1962). F or instance, we tend to date others who live in a similar geographic region, who are as attractive as we are, who are of similar race/ethnicity, religion, age, social class, and who share similar values. Winch (1952) referred to the group of people meetin g our specifications as the similar characteristics. For example, people surround themselves with others who share the same religion, education, social class, and so on Winch explained: There is a set of variables upon which homogamy has been shown to function: race, religion, social class, broad occupational grouping, location of residence, income, age, level of education, intelligence, etc. It is my opinion that thes e variable function to select for each of is the sort of people with whom we shall be most likely to interact, to assure that the people with whom we work and with whom we play and with whom we otherwise associate are more or less like us with respect to t hat set of variables and also with respect to cultural interest and values. In the sense that these variables determine with whom we shall y that we shall choose our spouses. (p.14) As a result, Winch explained that propensity to date others who are similar to themselves is more a matter of our environment and not of personal attraction. Not
26 surprisingly, researchers have demon strated a positive association between marital satisfaction and similarities in terms of personality, attitudes, and beliefs (Fowers and Olsen, 1993). Theories pertaining to the evolutionary basis of mate selection can also be boiled that they must behave in certain ways. Women are told they must be nurturing and stay home with children, and men are told they must be sexually active and be the primary breadwinners for the famil y. As a result, it seems difficult to determine whether these behaviors have an evolutionary basis or whether they are simply learned behaviors. Partner Perception The fourth area of research revolves around h ow partner perceptions affect the relationsh ip. Another substantial part of the research focuses on men and women behave and negotiate their roles differently in relationships. For instance, Sprecher, Schmeeckle, and Felmlee (2006) conducted a longitudinal study on 101 couples (dating and married) t least interest in the relationship has more power over the conditions of the relationship. The c ouples were asked who they believed to have the most amount of emotional involvement in the relationship, who they believed had more control in the relationship, and how satisfied they were with the relationship. The authors found that their results upheld be perceived as the partner with less interest in and more control over the relationship.
27 Similar to the Sprecher, Schmeeckle, and Felmlee Lydon (2003) tested the notion that women, and not men, perceive their dating partners perceptions. The authors sought to offer an explanation of this gender difference in relationship illusions. Their sample consisted of 47 he terosexual couples. The couples were given questionnaires that addressed interpersonal characteristics and relationship commitment and satisfaction. The study those high in c self perceptions. The study also found that women involved in dating relationships showed relationship illusions irrespective of their commitment. The authors concluded that men needed to identify with and then commit to a specific relationship before they exhibit pro relationship thinking (which women exhibit as a general disposition). The associated wi th their relationship illusions. Role of Gender in Personal Advertisements and Speed Dating Lastly, before the Internet dating services became popular, American society used a variety of other tactics to meet potential partners such as placing personal a dvertisements, and attending speed dating events. Goode (1996) found that there were still differences between what men and women looked for in personal advertisements. Men were far more influenced by looks and women were more influenced by success. Fisman et al. (2006) found very similar results when analyzing speed dating events. The authors found that women put greater weight on the intelligence and race of a potential partner during speed dating events, while men
28 responded more to physical attractivenes s. From these previous studies, it seems safe to speculate that men and women often value different characteristics in their partners; (1992) evolution based theory of mate selection, as was explained above. All of the research on gender and dating in America can be explained by men e societal standards for doing gender appropriately. These standards include a general liberalization of sexuality (although women are still expected to be less promiscuous than men), men being tough and not needing to self disclose, women being nurturing, ideas about how men and women should initiate relationships, and what men and women should look for in potential partners. Although not explicitly stated, all of these theories can be explained by West trends have carried on into technologically mediated relationships, such a s Internet Dating. In the next section of this literature review, the history of Internet Dating will be Internet Dating Subculture Inte rnet dating has become much more common in the past decade. In 1995, a website named Match.com was started by Gary Kerman. In 2004, Guinness World Today, Match.com has onlin e dating sites in 24 countries, in eight languages, and spans five continents (InterActiveCorp, 2009). This past June (2009), dating sites reported 27.5 million unique visitors (Comstock, 2009). eHarmony attracted 4.25 million
29 unique visitors in June, 2009 followed by Yahoo!Personals (4.1 million), and Match.com (3.4 million) (Comstock). Internationally, dating sites bring in about $950 million (Comstock). It is projected that in 2011, dating sites in the United States alone will collect a whopping $932 mi llion (JupiterResearch, 2007). Research shows that certain demographics are overrepresented in online dating sites. Internet daters tend to be below 35 years old, well educated, employed, and have high incomes (Brym and Lenton, 2003). They are more likely to be men than women, more likely to be single or divorced, and live in urban areas (Brym and Lenton). Madden and Lenhart (2006) reported younger cohorts, ages 18 29 are the main users of Internet dating sites, with 18 percent of all online adults in that age group having visited a dating site. Madden and Lenhart reported 11 percent of online adults ages 30 49 have visited online dating sites, while 6 percent of those ages 50 64 and 3 percent of those aged 65 and older have tried online dating sites. Step hure et al. (2009) found that although younger people access dating sites more often, older people (+55) report more motivation in posting and responding to profiles and meeting face to older adult believed this trend is due to the fact that older adults find it more difficult to meet others through conventional means and thus invested more in less conventional means (Int access to large numbers of potential partners in their normal day to day activities than (p.660 ).
30 Madden and Lenhart (2006) also found that most online daters tend to identify with more liberal social attitudes, compared with all Americans or all internet users: supporte individuals who have visited Internet dating sites are less likely to identify as being religious and are less likely to believe in traditional gender roles for men and women (p.12). their membership. eHarmony reported a 48 percent increase in membership from last y ear and True.com a 33 percent increase (Comstock, 2009). Brym and Lenton (2003) explained that there are four major trends occurring in our society today that help explain the popularity of Internet dating. First, there is a growing number of singles in ou r society. These singles are turning to the Internet to help find potential partners. Second, more individuals are experiencing increased career and time pressures. Many people report working longer hours now than they had in the past. Brym and Lenton expl single p eople today are more mobile than they were in the past. As a result, many singles report that it is difficult to meet people for dating and form intimate relationships. Last, workplace romance is on the decline. Employers are becoming more sensitive to sex ual harassment and taking disciplinary action when romantic relationships are
31 formed at work. These four trends can help explain the increased rates of membership for Internet dating sites today. Even though meeting potential partners through the Internet has become increasingly common, most couples in the United States still first met through face to face encounters. Madden and Lenhart (2006) polled American partners and found 38 percent first met at work or school, 34 percent met through family or friend s, 13 percent met at a nightclub, bar, caf, or other social gathering, three percent met through the Internet, two percent met at church, one percent met by chance, such as on the street, one percent met because they lived in the same neighborhood, one pe rcent met at a recreational facility like a gym, and one percent met on a blind date or through a dating service. However, Match.com (2009 2010) reported that 17 percent of couples married in the last three years met each other on an online dating site (Ma tch.com and Chadwick Martin Bailey). Furthermore, according to a 2009 U.S. survey conducted for eHarmony by Harris Interactive, nearly 542 people get married every day in the United States because of eHarmony; that accounts for nearly 5% of new U.S. marria ges (eHarmony.com, 2011). The Pew Internet & American Life Project surveyed 3,215 adults in 2005, and found three million Americans had entered into long term relationships or marriages with people they met on dating Web sites (Madden and Lenhart, 2006). I t is important to note that there is a lack of scholarly research on these statistics; it seems most of this research is conducted by Internet dating sites or companies hired by these sites. to how many marriages or long term relationships arise from online dating, it seems safe to speculate
32 that the Internet is changing these trends, and we will likely see an increase of partners meeting on the Internet as more people venture towards Internet dating. The research on Internet dating and daters have included a variety of topics, some of which will be discussed below. First, academics have begun to analyze of Internet dating applies to early theories of mate selection; for instance, the homogamy and filter theory. Second, researchers have analyzed that stated motivations of individuals to use online dating sites. Third, there has been research on the role of culture in online dating sites and dating scripts. Fourth, there has been much research on the role of self disclosure and authentic it y in online dating. These four areas of research will be exami ned, as well as how these research findings may be explained by Internet Dating and Mate Selection Theories The first area of research on Internet dating has focused on how earlier theories of mate selection have effected Internet daters and online dating sites. Online dating sites have long acknowledged that there is a science that goes into matching people. Dr. Helen Fisher, a biological anthropologist at Rutgers University was recently employed by chemistry.com (a division of match.com) as their Chief Scientific Advisor. renowned biological anthropologist, author and expert in the science of human attraction. She spent the last 3 decades figuring out why love ma kes us go weak in the knees and causes our hearts to skip a beat. Her research Helen
33 Fisher studies the evolution and future of human sex, love, marriage, and gender differences in the brain. Helen Fisher has also conducted research on how personality types influence mate selection (www.helenfisher.com). For years, academics have noted the impor tance of personality and values in mate selection. As was stated above, Burgess and Wallin (1943) explained that people tend to marry those with characteristics similar individuals use homogamy to sift through possible mates to find ones that they are similar to (Kerckhoff & Davis, 1962). With the popularization of the Internet in the 1990s, social interactions and encounters began to change, specifically in regard to the meeting and filtering process of potential partners. Internet dating sites allow individuals to easily search, sort, and filter for desired demographics or personality traits of other users. These types of networking sites also allow an expansion of socia l networks and (2003) discovered many people were drawn to online dating sites because t hey allow one to travel outside of their normal range of potential mates. Many respondents reported that online dating created opportunities for them to meet others they would have normally never met (Brym & Lenton). Internet dating allowed them to travel outside their immediate social networks and contact others who may not necessarily live in their geographic region or take part in similar day to day activities. Online dating sites paid attention to these mate selection theories and have used them to the ir advantage to sell memberships. The structure of online dating sites often
34 reflects the importance of homogamy theory in mate selection. The most common type of dating site is the search/ sort/ match system and includes profiles, search and match feature s, and private messaging capabilities (Fiore & Donath, 2004). Within this type of dating site, there are both mainstream systems and subpopulation systems. Mainstream systems include a broad base of users from a variety of racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic specifications with a search function. Match.com and Yahoo!Personals are examples of mainstream systems. Subpopulation systems attempt to serve a specific subpopulation. For instance, JDate .com serves Jewish singles, Manhunt.com serves gay men, Right Stuff Dating caters to academics, whereas VanityDate requires members to be beautiful, wealthy, or highly accomplished (Fiore & Donath). Other popular dating sites are those that match personali ties of members. To desires, personality tests have become a more popular feature Sites like eHarmony or Tickle employ such tests and match users with others who share si milar personality traits. For example, eHarmony asks users to answer questions about their demographics (age, education, income, height, ethnicity, religion), and personality (interests, energy level, likes and dislikes) (eHarmony.com Personality Test, 200 9). Test, 2009). These tests assume people prefer homogeneous partners, and match users bas ed on similarities in their answers. However, a few academics have begun questioning the effectiveness of these personality tests (Houran, 2004; Finn and
35 Banach, 2000; Naglieri et al., 2004), stating there is no peer review to validate these tests. Houran millions of singles are making life changing decisions based on compatibility tests that rigorou s reviews of these personality tests should take place. Personality has been an issue studies in psychology. Many psychologists believe people are born with predispositions for certain personalities. Sociologists, such as West and Zimmerman, believe peopl e learn their personality through social interactions. The nature nurture debate has been a long standing debate in academia for years. This paper argues on the side of nurture. Men and women learn their personality, and how to ocial interactions. Furthermore, men and women are trained to look for certain characteristics in potential partners. Therefore, it seems no large surprise that experts are able to zero in on personality characteristics that attract one another; they all h ave the training of American society as a common denominator. Motivations of Internet Daters The second area of research has focused on the motivations of individuals to use online dating sites. Lawson and Leek (2006) outlined six stated motivations of I nternet daters. First, many respondents reported that they were lonely and in need of companionship, emotional support, and communication. Second, many respondents had just got through some sort of life crisis such as a family member death or a divorce. Th ese respondents claimed Internet dating provided them with the needed social support after a crisis; often, they reported a better quality of living after they started using the dating site. Third, Internet dating allowed respondents to control their
36 prese ntation and environment. Many women reported that they felt safer meeting men online rather than in a bar or club. Furthermore, Lawson and Leek found many women, in order to control their presentation, generally described themselves and thinner and taller than they really were in their profiles. Fourth, respondents reported feeling like they were freer from commitment and gender stereotypic roles when dating online. For instance, respondents reported that when dating online, it is appropriate for women to m ake the initial contact. Fifth, respondents reported preferring Internet dating because they perceived it to be an adventure. Many claimed Internet dating was more exciting than visiting a local bar or nightclub in search of potential partners. Last, some Internet daters believed online dating was a romantic fantasy. These daters claimed that in online dating, you are able to construct a fake environment where you can pretend to be someone else. Brym and Lenton (2003) discovered several other motivations f or Internet dating. First, online dating created opportunities for many individuals to meet others they would have normally never met. Internet dating allowed individuals to travel outside their immediate social networks and contact others who may not nece ssarily live in their geographic region or take part in similar day to day activities. Second, respondents reported preferring Internet dating because it is private and confidential. Users can search for potential partners in the comfort of their own home in relative anonymity. Last, Internet dating is convenient. Users can post one profile and search for as many people as they would like using certain search guidelines. Users can respond to those they are interested in and ignore others in which they are n ot interested.
37 Culture and Online Dating Sites/Dating Scripts The third area of research has focused on the role of culture in online dating sites and dating scripts. Of the seven largest Internet dating sites, four are based in the United States while t he other three are based in the United Kingdom, Israel and Canada (Brym and Lenton, 2003). Based in the United States, Match.com is also known for their International sites. Match.com has dating sites for most European countries (Austria, Belgium, Denmark Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the UK), most of Latin America (Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Columbia, Mexico, Peru, and Venezuela), parts of Asia (China, India, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Pakistan, Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam), Austria, New Zealand, Canada, and South Africa (Match.com, 2011). Match.com justifies having different sites for different countries: While love is universal, the way people meet, court and develop relationships cultures. Match.com powers online dating for MSN across Asia, Australia, the United States and Latin America, and has been an AO L partner providing personals for Love@AOL for nearly 10 years. (Match.com, 2011) The role of culture in dating practices is also of high importance when developing dating sites. For instance, Farrer and Gavin (2009) researched the use of Match.com Japan, focusing on Japanese communication styles. The rese examine how and to what extent Japanese online daters overcame the limitations of computer mediated communication through the use of contextual and other cues. Farrer
38 and Gavin explained, s shaped by local cultures (p.408). They found that many Japanese focus on implicit communication such as body language, the use of silence, and implying meaning through what is not said. There is acquire social information using the cues that the online dating platform provides [sic], example, much implicit information was conveyed by the way profiles were written. Many profiles used emoticons and other nonlinguistic symbols to hint at emotional tone or personality traits. While the use of emoticons and other nonlinguistic symbols are also seen in profiles in the United States (Lawson and Leck, 2006), they seem to hold less significance than their use in Japanese profiles. S elf Disclosure and Authenticity in Online Dating The fourth area of research has focused on the role of self disclosure and authenticity in online dating. Most research to date has focused on Internet dating and identity management and creation. A few st udies have focused on the role of trust in Internet dating and how individuals sometimes lie on their profile in order to manage their identity. For instance, when people do lie on their profiles, it is generally about personality traits they wish to chang e. In other words, Internet dating profiles may represent more of whom users wish they were than who they really are. Yurchisin, for at these hoped for possible selves
39 offline but also to have those possible selves validated through both online and offline hors believed online identity is fluid, and online profiles allow users to try on different personalities and identities. Hardey (2004) also researched the role of authenticity in Internet courtship. hemselves with the use of their partners decide to meet in person. Brym and Lenton (2003) discussed briefly the role of Some people misrepresent themselves respondents confessed to misrepresenting themselves, especially about their age. Fourteen percent of their respondents said they had misrep resented their age, followed by marital status (10 percent), and appearance (10 percent). Lawson and Leck (2006) few seem to give much thought to what usually could be di smissed as a makeover of available to the respondents about each other in Internet interactions and their transitory hravesringkan, and McCabe provided by the Internet, as compared to face to face interactions, allows individuals to present aspects of their current perceptions of themselve s that they would not ordinarily Internet that often allows for misrepresentations.
40 Similar to the research on authenticity, many studies have looked at the ways in which people attempt to build trust through the creation of their profiles. Hardey (2004) nitial descriptions of their lives, which include details of why they are trying to meet a new t of email relationship with them. As was explained above, authenticity of emails and exchanges is often tested when the initial meeting occurs. Yurchisin, Watchravesringkan, and McCabe (2005) also found that there is a strong desire amongst dating site users to be honest or truthful about themselves in their profiles. Still, in one study on Internet daters, 82 percent of respondents believed one of the largest disadvantages of on line dating is people not telling you the truth about themselves (Brym and Lenton, 2003). In this study, women were significantly more likely than men to report this as a disadvantage. Furthermore, 72 percent of respondents in the same study believed the p eople they met online were hiding something. Again, women were more likely to report this being a significant disadvantage of Internet dating (Brym and Lenton, 2003). The 11 people with whom Brym and Lenton conducted in depth interviews agreed unanimously that the number one disadvantage of online dating is that some people purposely misrepresent themselves. Rosen et al. (2008) focused on the impact of emotionality and self disclosure on online dating versus traditional dating. The researchers recruited 1, 029 adult subjects from the Los Angeles and asked them about their demographics, use of various
41 communication technologies, and their experience with online dating. The results indicated that the amount of emotionality and self disclosure affected a person perception of a potential partner. In general, higher levels of self disclosing messages were seen as reflecting a more positive and open person. However, online daters had a slightly higher tendency to prefer the person with the least self disclosure. Traditional daters were split between the lowest and highest self disclosers. Furthermore, male online daters actually preferred both high and low self disclosures over moderate ones, whereas women preferred lower levels of self disclosure. This study, lik e most the other studies on Internet dating, dealt mostly with young college educated participants. However, overall this seemed to be a strong study with good methodologies. Merkle and Richardson (2000) researched the significance of infidelity as a sour ce of betrayal in online relationships. The researchers found that in online facilitated relationships, the definition of infidelity is often broadened to include more than just sexual behavior. They explained that because of the emphasis placed on emotion al closeness in online Richardson also noted that choosing to self disclose to more than one person at a time wa s considered infidelity to some Internet daters. Numerous researchers who have studied Internet dating have called for further research. First, Merkle and Richardson (2000) believe more research is needed to ed relationships define the boundaries of betrayal, and whether infidelity is as destructive to such relationships as it is in non
42 been on several dates with someone y ou met online and they still have their profile active on the dating site? Is it considered betrayal if the person you met online is currently chatting with several other potential partners? Second, Stephure et al. (2009) argue more research should incorpo rate age as an important variable in studies on Watchravesringkan, and McCabe (2005) argue more research needs to be done on the over time? Fourth, Fiore and Donath (2004) believe future research should consider building detailed models of which characteristi cs people seek most in online personals. Fiore and Donath also think an ethnographic study of a small number of users would and how the systems affect their concepti seems to be a lack of research addressing the role of stigma in Internet dating. For instance, does shame or stigma associated with Internet dating affect relationships? These are all potential avenues for future research. Personality, motivation, and issues surrounding self disclosure are all psychological areas of research. It seems that most the research on Internet dating has been carried out with a psychological lens. Because this is a sociological research study, this paper will be conducted under the lens of sociological principles. It is important to note that psychology and sociology are not that different. Psychology studies the person and the mind. Sociology studies society and the impact of society on the individual. Because we are all members of a society, our behaviors and thoughts
43 are guided by principles of society. Therefore, the fields of psychology and sociology cannot and should not be separated, as they work together to understand the complex analyze ways in which men and women behave in our society. This theory best intimate relationsh Implications As was noted above, Clarke, Shaver, and Abrahams (1999) found that men tended to be more active and direc t in the beginning stages of relational development whereas women used passive and indirect strategies more often than men in the beginning stages of a relationship. This study pertained to traditional (face to face) dating. It will be interesting to deter mine whether Internet daters behave similarly, or if they have broken free from the more traditional gender roles. Studies that have examined motivations of Internet daters have explained women are drawn to online dating because it provides them with more agency and freedom from stereotypical gender roles (Lawson and Leck, 2006). In other words, women are less likely to adhere the initial contact). With the security that ari ses from Internet dating, and the agency it provides women, it seems likely that there will be more equalitarian initiation practices in Internet relationship formation. To date, there has been no research addressing this important issue.
44 Furthermore, hom ogamy theory may be loosing some credibility as Internet dating sites (and others newer forms of meeting partners) become a more popular way of meeting potential partners. For instance, Luo and Zhang (2009) found no evidence of the homogamy theory in their analysis of speed dating events. This makes sense more on our environment (i.e. who surrounds us) than our attraction to like minded people. With newer ways of meeting others, many people outside our day to day activities are accessible. Researchers have demonstrated a positive association between marital satisfaction and similarities in terms of personality, attitudes, and beliefs (Fowers and Olsen, 1993). Because of the decre ased emphasis placed on homogamy with the rise of Internet dating services, relationships formed online may report decreased satisfaction over time. To suggest possible answers to a few of the research questions proposed at the beginning of this proposal: Results will likely find much difference in initiation strategies when focusing on gender and Internet dating. Additionally, it is likely that results will indicate that women feel they are better able to initiate relationships (are able to be more direct in their initiation) online versus in person and that men and women are less person. Furthermore, the business applications of such a study are important. Because more and more people use the Internet to begin relationships, there is a need for more research and information on Internet dating. Dr. Helen Fisher, a biological anthropologist at Rutgers University was recently employed by chemistry.com (a division of match.com) as their Chief Scien tific Advisor. She was asked to assist
45 chemistry.com in developing a personality test to match members of the site. If this study were to find men and women approach Internet dating differently, the results may help companies cater their sites to the uniqu e preferences of their female and male members. In sum, shedding light on how men and women initiate online relationships may potentially assist in the development of Internet dating sites. Justification for using Qualitative Interviews One major weaknesses of previous research on intimate relationships and gender is the relative lack of qualitative methods in research on intimate relationships and gender Because of the nature of complex research questions pertaining to intimacy and gend er, the use of qualitative methods should yield richer data. Furthermore, many of the research variables pertaining to intimate relationships are difficult to study. As a result, this study will employ in depth interviews with online daters. Using qualita tive interviewing to study online dating would be beneficial for many reasons. First, dating is a private endeavor and interviews would help the researcher understand what thought process is involved in choosing partners, and what emotions are involved in the dating process. Matthews (2005) explained that because marriage and family life is generally private and not open to participant observation, understanding the intricacies of such lives could only be accomplished through interviewing. Furthermore, Clar k, Shaver, and Abrahams (1999) study of initiation strategies noted that much of what happens when initiating a relationship occurs below the observational level and is therefore very difficult to study. In addition, much initiating behavior is subconsciou s in men and women and therefore difficult to capture with interviews and/or surveys. Second, there have not been many qualitative studies on
46 Internet daters or Internet dating. Because of this, using unstructured interviewing may help uncover common theme s associated with online dating and Internet daters which has not been yet been explored. A few examples of Internet dating research using interviews will be provided below. Yurchisin, Watchravesringkan, and McCabe (2005) used semi structured interviews i n their exploratory study on identity creation and recreation in online dating profiles. The authors explained they chose to use interviews so that respondents could express themselves freely and explain their actions. The authors used specific questions a (p. 740). In this way, the researchers were able to derive common themes: that the use of Internet dating services was generally triggered by an event, that respondents wanted to be honest and truthful about themselves in their profiles, and that many reported slightly stretching the truth in their profiles. Lawson and Leck (2006) used in depth, informal interviews to understand the motivations of Internet daters, their styles of courtship, and how they negotiated problems associated with trust and deception. These in depth interviews were coded for themes that arose; such as trust, time, risk and need satisfaction. Because of the scarcity of previous research regarding Internet c ourtship, open ended interviews were essential to pull out these themes. Couch and Liamputtong (2008) used in depth, online chat interviews to understand what extent online daters use Internet dating sites to meet sexual partners. The authors explained th at using in and seek clarification from participants and it allowed participants to articulate their lived
47 experiences and to participate in a two (p.270). The aut hors also believed their use of online chats enhanced the validity of the responses they received. Because online chats provide a sense of anonymity, the researchers believed respondents were more comfortable discussing private or stigmatized behaviors or activities.
48 CHAPTER 3 DATA AND METHODS Participants The analysis presented in this study is based on data from interviews with women who are currently using Internet dating sites. Interviews are focus ed perceptions of their experiences on the dating site (how they do internet dating), including gendered attributes and behaviors (how they do gender). The interview sample for this study consist s of never married, heterosexual women between the ages of 18 35. When recruiting participants, each volunteer was screened according to their gender, sexual orientation, age, and marital status. Furthermore, volunteers were asked to disclose which Internet dating site they use in order to determine whether their motivations are in line with the requirements of this research. Only volunteers using Internet dating sites that advertise themselves as were accepted These sites included but were not limited to, businesses such as match.com, eharmony.com, okcupid.com, zoosk.com, perfectmatch.com, or plentyoffish.com. All volunteers had a stated motivation of wishing to find a committed relationship from their Intern et dating site pa rticipation. Dating sites where people use sites for purposes of initiating physical or cyber sexual encounters w ere not included. There are multitudes of different dating sites, most of which were considered legitimate for purposes of thi s paper and research. The data in this study resulted from 30 interviews. Saturation seemed to occur at 30 interviews In other words, i nterviews yielded no new information at 30 participants. fresh data no longer
49 sparks new theoretical insights, nor reveals new properties of these core theoretical Initial sampling occur red by snowball sampling, starting with ads posted around a college campus and on social networking sites (such as facebook). The ad s refer red gender component o f the research. Volunteers were asked to email the researcher to determine eligibility and, if eligible, to set up an interview date and time. Interviews were conducted in person or over a face to face Internet chat system such as Skype or i Chat. If the participant preferred interviewing over an Internet chat system, an appointment w as set up allowing for one hour of unobstructed face time and the informed consent w as emailed to them. In the beginning of each interview, the participants were asked to read the informed consent. In this, the participants were ensured their confidentiality would be kept: their name would not be linked to t heir transcribed remarks or mentioned in any report, and their information would be assigned a code number. The websites the participants use d for Internet dating would be disclosed, but the specific interview data w ould not be linked with particular datin g sites. As the first interviews we re coded (discussed below), theoretical sampling occur red Theoretical sampling sought and collect ed pertinent data to develop and refine the categories constructed during coding (Chamaz, 2006). For example, if codes cont inually found that women in graduate school report less conformity to gender stereotypes, the theoretical sampling should be guided in the direction of women in graduate school in order to explore the specific category at greater length.
50 Interviews Qualitative interviews can occur in many settings, ranging from unstructured interactions to formal interviews with respondents. The purpose of interviewing, perspec unstructured interviewing, semi structured interviewing, and structured interviewing. Informal interviewing generally lacks structure. Unstructured interviews are open ended and e ntail researchers asking questions and allowing conversations to ensue. Informal and unstructured interviewing are beneficial for exploratory studies. As the researcher discovers patterns in interviewee responses, he or she may want to develop an interview guide of more specific, semi structured questions (Rubin & Rubin, 2005). When interviews have a very narrow focus and when interviewers are looking for specific pieces of information, a structured interview should be used (Rubin & Rubin). For this intervi ew, a semi structured interview guide was used from which the interviews were guided. However, I was more interested in the story of Internet dating ed active interviewing. Holstein and Gurbrium (1995) d escribe active interviewing as a conversation between the researcher questions to be asked, the active interview guide is advisory, more of a conversational agenda than was guided by my research agenda, but remain ed set of pr edetermined questions that might be used as appropriate to engage the
51 well with constructivist grounded theory, the methodology discussed below. As a grounded theorist, an interviewer must ask participants to describe and reflect upon particular experiences. The interviewer, from this methodology, must listen, observe, and encourage responses to a few broad, open ended questions. In grounded theory, as in active interview ing, the interviewer is more concerned with eliciting a narrative from the participant than sticking to a structured interview guide. This active interview was guided by four main questions (see Box 1). The first question asked the participant how they ge t started doing Internet dating (how do they construct their profile and contact others). The second question asked the participants The third question was open ende resulted in two or more in were aimed to provide respondents with an opportunity to add anything else pertinent to their Internet dating expe rience that has not already been covered. These four questions we analyze d their responses/stories to determine how they do gender as they do Internet dating. After these questio ns, each subject w as given a brief written questionnaire asking their age, ethnicity, occupation, level of education, religion, length of participation in Internet dating, and 5 words that summarize how they wish to be portrayed in their Interne t dating pr ofile. Participants we re asked about these demographics in order to take into consideration variations by race, ethnicity, class, age, and religion. As I mentioned above, race, class, and gender are all components
52 were analyzed w hen coding interviews. Furthermore, since principles of homogamy and filter theory were analyzed, I want ed to have this demographic information accessible. The maj or focus of the interview wa s on how participants do their gender while doing Internet datin g For instance, do relationship initiation strategies differ for women when beginning an Internet mediated relationship versus a traditional relationship? How do the beginning stages of Internet mediated relationships differ from other more traditional re lationships? Do women feel they are less committed to stereotypical gendered behavior onli ne? All of these questions shed light onto how and when initiation of intimate relationships occurs. For purposes of this research, initiation will be defined as a) w ho sends the first message online to begin communication, b) who initiates the first in person meeting, and c) who asks for the second in person meeting. The i nterviews occur ed at a location and time that wa s convenient for the interviewee. In the beginni ng of the interview, the participants were asked for permission to tape the interview. If taping was permitted, I only took notes during the key points of the interview. These taped interviews w ere transcribed. If taping wa s not permitted, the participants were asked if they would felt comfortable with me taking notes during the interview. These notes were expanded later the same day. Furthermore, I wrote memos about these interviews and my experiences conducting these interviews the same day the interview was conducted. Memo writing allows the researcher to engage in the data and remain as reflexive as possible. Fonow and Cook analytica
53 own demographics undeniably influence d some interviews. In the memos, it was important for me to note how my own race, class, gender, age, and ideologies may have affected the interview and my relationship with the interviewee. Because I was using constru ctivist grounde d theory (discussed below), it was critical to engage in memo writing. In constructivist grounded theory, the theory that arises in the data depends In keeping track of reflexivity, the understanding of both the phenomenon under study and the research process itself will be enhanced. Furthermore, memo writing kept track of reoccurring themes (categories) and incomplete categories in the data, which will be discussed in greater depth below. Keeping track of reoccurring themes and incomplete categories aided in theoretical sampling, which was discussed above. As the categories bec a me saturated with data (no new properties emerge), theoretical sampling cease d Coding and Analysis The transcribed interviews were coded for themes that aro se. The coding focus ed on how participants do gender and Internet dating. Many of the scholars noted in the literature review explained race, class, and gender cannot be separated when anal yzing social issues. As such, race and class w ere considered within the context of the interview data. Grounded theory (Charmaz, 2006) was used to analyze interview data. g
54 depth exploration of a particular topic with a person who ha s had the began with Glaser and Strauss (1967). Glaser and Strauss argued that theories should be developed from data, instead of deducing testable hypotheses from existin g data. Analysis of data occurs through a constant comparison of interview codes. The coding of interviews reveals categories or common themes in the data. The connections of these categories are documented in memos throughout the research process, formin g a emerge. Grounded theory has taken on different forms since its creation: constructivist and objectivist grounded theory (Charmaz, 2006). Objectivist grounded the ory resides in knowable world. The data already exists in the world; the researcher finds them and ded theory, analysis as created from shared experiences and relationships with participants and cerned with the how and why of participants constructing meaning and actions in specific situations. For this reason, constructivist grounded theory approach was used in this study. Doing gender, as explained above, is reinforced through social interaction s. This study is interested in how people do gender. Charmaz (2006) explained that grounded theorists must continually evaluate the fit between their initial research question and their emerging data. As grounded
55 theorists, we should not force theory or p reconceived ideas onto our data, but rather follow leads we find in the data through coding. As part of this, we should not necessarily adopt of reproduce their views as our own but instead, interpret them separately from our knowledge. Because I entered i nto this study having conducted a literature review on Internet dating, I was sure not to impose my preconceived ideas and knowledge onto the interviewees or data, but instead pai d close attention to theories emerging from the data. Coding is the first step in grounded theory data analysis and aids in synthesizing many interviews and documents to develop a grounded theory. Charmaz (2006) categorizes, sum the analytic frame from which a researcher builds the analysis and aims to address the two main phases of grounded theory coding: 1) an initial phase that included naming each word, line, or segment and 2) a focused, selective phase that categorizes the most frequent codes (Charmaz, 2006). Initial coding occur red first. Charmaz (2006) advised researchers to ask the following questions during initial coding: 1) What is this data a study of? 2) What does the data suggest? Pronounce? 3) From whose point of view? 4) What theoretical category does this specific datum indicate? (p.47). Initial coding sticks clos e to the data and codes for words reflecting action. In initial coding, the researcher must work quickly through the data, remain open to exploring theoretical possibilities, keep codes simple and precise, develop short cuts, preserve actions, and compare data with data
56 (Charmaz). Furthermore, Glaser (1978) advised coding with gerunds to help detect processes within the data. Line by line coding wa s part of the initial coding process. Line by line coding helps the researcher see actions and identify signif icant processes within the interview data. Charmaz (2006) advised researchers to ask the following questions to aid in this process: 1) What process(es) is at issue here? How can I define it? 2) How does this process develop? 3) How does the research parti cipant(s) act while involved in this process? 4) What does the research participant(s) profess to think and feel while involved in this process? What might his or her observed behavior indicate? 5) When, why, and how does this process change? 6) What are t he consequences of the process? (p.51). The line by line coding should provide leads to follow. Word by word by line (and word by word) coding will help separate data into categories and see processes w ithin the data. The coding also include d in vivo codes; codes that condense meanings of widely used terms that participants assume everyone shares. In vivo codes are important because they are characteristic of the social world in which one live s. Once I felt that there was strong analytical progress made with the initial coding, a more focused coding occur red The most significant and frequent codes were pulled from the line by line coding. Focused coding helped determine which initial codes should be categorized by comp aring data to data. After thos e codes were finished, theoretical codes were applied to the focused coding. The theoretical codes specified possible relationships between the categories establish ed during focused coding.
57 CHAPTER 4 FINDINGS, PART I : CHANGING GENDER SCRIPTS AND INITIATION Online dating has seemed to change dating and gender scripts for women. Online dating has altered what women are looking for in men and the ways they initi ate relationships. Many of the women interviewed acknowledge that Internet dating is different than more traditional forms of dating in that they feel more liberated to seek the perfect match and initiate contact with men. The data supporting this claim re volves around several important findings: First, Internet dating has allowed for women to pick out very specific characteristics in men that they report being important to them in relationships. Women report these specific characteristics may not matter so much if they had met the man in a face to face setting. Second, the initiation process of Internet mediated relationship is scripted by rules and expectations unlike those used in traditional dating practices. Women report these rules make the beginning s tages of dating more predictable and accessible. Third, many of the women interviewed reported Internet dating is a more convenient way to meet men given their work and school schedules. It seems that this change is the result of larger social issues such as women spending more time at school and on their careers than before. Picking out Specific Characteristics Internet dating has made it easier for women to pick out specific characteristics in men they report being important in potential partners. As such, the data from these interviews indicated that women are very active during the initiation phases of the Int ernet mediated relationship. The women interviewed reported working very hard and spending a good deal of time screening the men on the dating sites and picking out very
58 specific characteristic, such as height, eye color, education, and employment status. As was discussed in the literature review section, a study performed by Clark, Shaver, and Abrahams (1999) found that women used passive and indirect strategies more often than men in the beginning stages of a relationship. The data from the interviews sho ws that women are actually very direct in their desires and are very active in pursuing their needs. The virtual atmosphere of Internet dating seems to liberate women to search and sort through men based on very specific characteristics. Many of the women interviewed reported that they were expecting to find the to narrow down the exact types of characteristics one is looking for in a partner, many of the women reported expecting nothing less than perfection. Paige explained: There are people who are looking for the perfect someone. Because you can go online, and find someone who looks like they're the perfect match on paper, and then maybe they're not beginning. These people are on a search for t he perfect person. Further, the large pool of men on these dating sites makes it necessary to search for specific characteristics to make the pool more accessible. Without searching for specific criteria or limiting out certain characteristics, there are simply too many men to sort through. The following excerpts illustrate the need women feel to narrow down their search criteria: When I got th rough profiles I search for criteria. Like the basics height, ethnicity, body type, educationa later on, no kids, close to where I live, not married, and I only date white guys they're who I find attractive. And good looking. Those are the initial criteria
59 otherwise there are way too many guys on the site. It narrows it down to a few hundred guys that I can sort through. (Paige) It does really get to be the laundry list essenti al things lik es to travel, etc but beyond that I try not to knit pick about the information. (Jean) In the beginning, I tried to respond to all the messages. But then after a while, you lifestyle choices, what you think about sex, personality traits, what would you do in this situation, stuff like that. (Bri) they had met in person. However, a few of the women reported it is harder to overlook a es people upfront for that if you met them in person would be excusable, I suppose, if you iews, such I think that being able to be picky and filter people out has made me that much so them but if they were face to face with me, I might actually get along with them and look past The ability to search and sort through the thousands of Internet dating profiles has made women much more picky about who the y date and much more active in seeking a hoped they would find in a partner. The pool of eligibles has become much larger with Internet dating sites, and as a result, wom en are now able to be much more specific about their desires and expectations in a partner. The following excerpts from a few interviews illustrate the extent of these expectations:
60 traveling. Anyone who is the creati ve filter out by their picture that helps. I think it would be mainly pictures, height, religion, those are the main ones. (Catherine) When I search for people I put in a They have to be active and workout 3 4 times per week. They have to have a job, yeah. Um, and preferably never married. I look okay. But just cats, no. Obviously, [the picture is] the first thing you look at, but ctures. And you're out if you take dorky pictures like with your shirt off in the mirror, or next to your car. If someo ne has a spelling error any sort of kind of like very well, or were avid readers sudden, you can be that picky person. You actually may to find someone to date, so you need to b opportunity to be more picky on these sites. (Kristy) Women also reported enjoying being able to know facts about the men before they committed to go on a date. Many of the women explained th at it was nice being able to filter for all of the characteristics they desired in a man and then decide to invest time in a date with them. The dating profiles offered many facts about men: their occupation, income, height, eye color, educational level, r eligion, political stance, astrological sign, whether or not they have children or pets, and many more facts. Knowing these characteristics upfront made it easier for women to decide whether they would meet this man in a face to face setting. The following excerpt illustrate the importance of this:
61 You have a chance to think about it before making a decision. You also get to screen them. I feel when you meet someone out, you really have to go with your instinct, and sometimes your judgment is impaired at t he time. So this is a little more like, you can actually sit there and think about it a little bit before getting rying to screen each other out. So I feel like you can be more honest about what you want. (Mandy) Mandy appreciated that she was able to think about whether she would like to pursue a man further before she made a decision. Dating online offered her this convenience, which she valued. Further, she felt more liberated to ask more questions in an online setting than in a face to face setting. Dating online opens the door to more obvious beliefs about online dating and the capability to screen more easily online: online shopping. I get to look specifically for things that are important to me that going to be able to compromise on. And if I can make those decisions at choose specific characteristi cs she wanted in a potential partner. She was able to make her initial decisions based off these characteristics and not have to waste time trying to decide if the man had all of these specific traits. Online dating, therefore, made it easier for Paige to characteristics upfront: you meet someone because they approach you and they their educational background, or their political affiliation, that may make you incompatible more substantial than a one night conversation. At a bar, you meet
62 people primarily on base for a relationships. (Samantha) To Samantha, basing a relationship off of specific characteristics such as their educational background or political affiliation was much more stable than basing it off of physical attraction. Online dating allowed her to filter for those specific characteristics, ultimately leading to a more stable base on which to build a relationship. Chelsea echoed these concerns: re marriage so you're going to click that on your preferences and the site will only match you with people who have also clicked that. So that right there helps you narrow stuff down and you cant do that k now a days, in the modern era, meeting someone its really awkward to yourself into always whereas on the site you can kind of know more w hat you're getting yourself into. (Chelsea) Chelsea appreciated that she was able to know what she was getting herself into before she went on a date with a man. She was able to filter for characteristics she deemed were important, making her more compat ible with men she chooses to date. With the advent of Internet dating, women feel like they are better able to be picky about the men they want to date. Further, women are careful to screen for many of the characteristics they deem important or necessary i n potential partners. appearance. The profile pictures are generally the first, and most important, part of a Just because there are so many profiles I sometimes feel kind of shallow bc I someone when yo (Jean)
63 One of the first things I filter is religion, and then I filter for or any den 100,000 + and then education is like higher education. But if you filter someone through education, then the income kind of follows to where they make a decent income. And then the physical features and characteristics. What their hobbies are comes later than what do they look like, how tall are they. After I filter for religion and then education I tend to be su per shallow and just scroll down to look screening done by women in most cases. Once the men get through this first screen, the women will read his profile. These interviews made it clear that women were engaging in a filtering of potential partners. Filter theory can be applied to what these women were doing when they were searching the Internet dating sites for pote ntial dates. Filter theory states individuals use homogamy to sift through possible mates to find ones to which they are similar (Kerckhoff & Davis, 1962). For instance, we tend to date others who live in a similar geographic region, who are as attractive as we are, who are of similar race/ethnicity, religion, age, social class, and who share similar values. Murstein (1970) also wrote about filter theory, stating individuals filter out potential mates through a three stage process referred to as Stimulus V alue Role. The first stage, stimulus, consists of filtering through visual, auditory, and non interactional means. These female online daters engage in this stage when scanning though the images and profiles of the men. The second stage, value, consists of filtering through verbal interactions. The female online daters engage in this stage when talking with the men on the phone prior to the date, and then while on the initial dates. The third stage, role, involves the ability of the
64 couple to function well in mutually assigned roles. Since this study is primarily interested in relationship formation, this third stage of the filter theory was not explored. Furthermore, it seems that because these women are paying monthly dues for being part of their dating s ite, they believe in imposing rigid filters when looking for dates. The women feel this way partially because the dating sites make it easier for them to filter using specific parameters, and partially because they feel like they are paying to find a perfe ct partner that meets all their expectations. The dating sites host huge numbers of men. Women see themselves as the consumers, and become all their expectations, or they will just look elsewhere. The role of women in the United States has been changing in the past several decades. Women are taking more initiative for their education and careers, and as these results indicate, their partner selection as well. West and Zim merman (1987) explain that doing gender is unavoidable since the allocation of power and resources is present in the domestic, economic and political domains, as well as in the broad arena of interpersonal relations (p.8). As a result, in all situations, a person is performing their gender. West and Zimmerman also note that social movements, such as the feminist movement, provide the ideology and impetus to question these performances. The feminist movement weakened the social accountability of people to pe rform their gender. During the feminist movement, women were offered more freedom to stray from traditional notions of femininity. In doing so, women took more initiative in pursuing their educations and careers, something that was viewed as acceptable beh avior (or gender performance) before the feminist movement. The results of these interviews indicate
65 that women are also taking more initiative in choosing their romantic partners. With the rise of online dating sites, and the changing gender norms and exp ectations in our society, women feel more liberated to search and filter for specific characteristics they desire in potential partners. It is clear that what women are looking for in potential partners is changing, partially due to their changing rol es i n society; women seem to think they are doing gender differently than they have done it in the past. However, as West and Zimmerman pointed out, one can never truly opt out of doing gender. Although much has changed for women over the past few decades, wom en are still doing gender when choosing their ideal man. The women interviewed were still quite bound to hegemonic ideals when filtering out traits. The women were looking for good looking, tall, educated men with good jobs that paid well. So, although wom en feel as if they have more agency and on hegemonic ideals. Scripted Rules and Expectations From the interviews, it is clear that the initiation process of Inter net mediated relationship is scripted by rules and expectations specific to Internet dating. Women report these rules and expectations make the beginning stages of dating more predictable. Many of the women interviewed women reported enjoying the week or t wo of email exchanges getting to know one another and the initial coffee date. Further, if a woman decides she is not interested after a few email exchanges or dates, she is simply able to cut off contact. It seems, however, that there is some confusion ov er what
66 should be done with your profile if you do decide to date someone. This will be explained below. Many of the women interviewed reported there is an understood process to relationship formation online. Usually, contact is made with the person of i nterest and this contact is followed by getting to know one another virtually. This process generally results in a long lead up or introductory period that allows women to slowly get to know the man in which they may be interested. This process helps women decide whether they really want to meet the man face to face. Paige explained: I think its because I do end up emailing back and forth before I actually meet someone. And you can kind of get the idea if someone if off when you email back and forth usual ly 3 4 conversations back and forth. The contact is important before you meet someone. I meet with people if I have this amount of contact which can take 3 4 days to a few weeks. A few women reported phone screens as being an important part of their scre ening/ compatibility before you meet the man face to phone and had a lot in common with them and then you know within the first 5 minutes and often important, first step in the online dating process. Many of the other women reported virtual communication prior to a face to face face was standard and expected by both parties. Generally this communication occurs off the dating site. Chloe explai ned that after initial contact was made on the dating site,
67 added me on Facebook. So we became Facebook friends. Whenever I would see him communication occurs via personal email: one, two, or three emails is about standard. And then, someone usually gives the other person their phone number. He called me, I think we spoke a coup le times maybe for like a half an hour. And then he asked me when I was available, we set up a date, and (Jean) Jean explained that email communication was a common first step in the online dating process. Beth had a similar experience: We would send an email back and forth every day one person would send one one day and the other person would send on the next day. So this went on for a good week and a half to two weeks, to the point where I was like wondering when we were going to leave the Internet and actually meet in person (Beth) This process of virtual communication prior to the initial face to face meeting is fairly standard, according to the interviews. The women interviewed reported this communication prior to the initial date helped the relationship progress and allowed for th em to feel more comfortable with the initial meeting. The initial face to face date also tends to follow an agreed upon process. Generally initial dates occur in public places and include brief meetings where the women can decide whether they would like t o invest more time in this man. Linda We have multiple conversations on instant chat multiple nights in a row. And then we started texting and Even after two months of chatting online, Nancy
68 thought it would be necessary to meet in a public place to allow for a quick getaway if they decided they were not attracted to one another face to face: We talked online for a while about a month. We actually just corresponded through the website, then we exchanged yahoo names. And we chatted on yahoo for another two months. So we met at grand station in New York very our separate ways. This brief initial face to face contact seems fairly standard according to the women interviewed. The briefness of the date allows women to feel less committed to the date and better able to cut short the meeting if they feel as if they are not truly compatible with the man. The women interviewed explained that there is also pr otocol for cutting off communication with a man you discover you are not interested in after chatting with off communication with someone you met online proves much easier because the it was just easier for me to just ignore som eone since I met him not face to face anyway and it was just so More complications arise when you have been on more than one date with someone. For instance, a few women rep orted not knowing when to remove their profile from the site once they started dating someone in person. These women wondered whether it was standard protocol for them to talk to their dating partner before they remove it. Kristy explained these complicati ons and the reasons for these worries:
69 re dating someone? And how long do you have to be dating someone to be like an okay etiquette is behi nd that. If I found someone that I dated for a few months, I would probably go off the site. Two weeks, two dates seriousness of the person and how much you connect maybe its not the time but the actual relationship th e connection and the chemistry of the relationship. the relationship. But I wonder how that works? You know, is there online dating do you know an agreement between the two people to go off the site at the same time. reverse of Although it seems like there is a scripted protocol for the initial contact and dates resulting from Internet dating sites, it appears unclear about what to do with your profi le after you have started seeing someone on a regular basis. Since the dating process is quite different online than in person, it appears that some of the women interviewed are rovides these women with initiative and independent, and it seems unclear how that translates into the beginning stages of a relationship. For instance, Kristy reported wanting the decision to pull her profile from the site to be her decision, but struggle s with the idea of whether she should consult her new partner first. Women feel liberated to make their own decisions about partner selection and dating online, and this choice seems compromised when a new relationship forms. As was mentioned previously, the women interviewed feel liberated to filter through partners and initiate dates. They reported appreciating the online dating
70 process, in that it gave them more freedom and authority to initiate interactions with men they thought would be a good match as well as cut off contact with men in which they were no longer interested. When studying traditional, or face to face, dating, Clarke, Shaver, and Abrahams (1999) found that men tended to be more active and direct in the beginning stages of relational d evelopment whereas women used passive and indirect strategies more often than men in the beginning stages of a relationship. These research findings do not indicate that is the case. This may possibility be due to the virtual interactions associated with t he online dating process. Women seem to feel less accountable to traditional gender scripts when dating online. The way women are doing gender in a virtual setting is different than the way they would do their gender in a more traditional (face to face) se tting. Studies that have examined motivations of Internet daters have explained women are drawn to online dating because it provides them with more agency and freedom from stereotypical gender roles (Lawson and Leck, 2006). Korman (1983) noted in her resea rch that dating has traditionally implied certain tacit norms and cues that define the behavior of those engaged in the dating process. Some of these norms include male controlled date initiation. Korman noted, in 1983, that these norms were beginning to s hift into more egalitarian roles in the dating process. Korman also attributed these changing norms and ways of doing gender to the feminist movement. Convenient way to Meet Men It seems that the women interviewed acknowledge that Internet dating is diff erent than more traditional forms of dating in that it is much more accessible to them. It seems that this belief is the result of larger social issues such as women spending more time at
71 school and on their careers than before. Women report Internet datin g being more convenient in terms of meeting potential dates because they are so busy. Mandy erviews: time to go out and meet anybody. A friend told me about it and I looked it up and it and meet somebody. (Nancy) Nancy did not want to allocate time to sifting through potential partners in a traditional setting. Meeting men online was much more convenient and time effective for her. Paige echoed this feeling: I started because the hours that I work to not meet new people, but to spend time with people who are important in my ople in a more conventional setting. (Paige) Paige spent most of her free time outside of work getting together with established friends. She felt it was an inconvenience to try and meet men in the little time she had outside of work. She also felt that it was difficult to meet men in a traditional (face to face) setting. Sandy reiterated this belief: So when I was 19, I was working full time and going to school full time and there was no way to meet new people. And now, being in [in this city], being a graduate student, and working out as much as I do, I have a hard time connecting with people outside of the social groups I am already in. (Sandy) A few of the women interviewed felt that it was harder to meet men in larger cities. Sandy, in particular, w as having difficulty meeting people outside her social circle. Online dating opened up doors to other social circles, allowing her to meet a wider variety of men. For these women, most of their time is spent at work or in school. Meeting men in a more trad itional face to face setting simply is not realistic for them.
72 Further, as was noted above, a few of the women interviewed said that it was especially difficult to meet men in big cities, specifically others in your age group. Catherine noted, has made it easier for her to meet men in the big city in which she lives: So I guess great and useful tool in such the globalized world that we live in. Especially in a big city I think it is really difficult to meet people and it is a good way or it has the potent meet people your age that are single and interested in a relationship. The inability to meet men in a traditional face to face setting was noted as a matter of concern for many of the women interviewe d, whether or not they live in a big city. Other women reported that they simply have a difficult time meeting people face to face in a traditional way. These women report Internet dating being helpful in allowing them to meet potential partners. As Bri no also explained that it was difficult for her to meet men in a face to face setting given her life circumstances: So I moved to DC after I graduated college in may and I had been in the city for maybe like 6 7 months and I noticed that the social scene is much different once you get out of college. So a big thing was that I lived in a groups house and I had coworkers s o I had a very set group of friends. But I just found it difficult to meet people outside of those social groups. So, all my coworkers are female and the people in my house I just wanted to live with. Yeah, I just kind of felt that it was difficult to find avenues just to meet someone randomly. Because yeah, I would go out and I went and did things in college. But the biggest thing was that in the past, the people I have dated, have been introduced through a mutual friend. And now that my social circle was sort of different and that also my coworkers are a
73 bracket or people that I would be interested in. Beth had similar arguments surrounding her use of Internet dating sites. S he had just moved to a city where she did not know anyone and was not meeting people outside of her immediate circles at work: Then I was living in India, and when I moved back last year I was living at home internet dating for three moths and then I actually met someone outside of internet dating so I stopped then. Nancy explained that she had been doing Internet dating for such a long period of time that it actually felt strange for her to try and meet me n in a more traditional setting, ndy argued that many women are turning to Internet dating because it is difficult for them to meet men in a traditional face to single women especially in my department All these amazing people As was previously discussed, women are changing the way they do their gender. This change has stemmed from the feminist movement and societal notions and expe ctations about femininity. In the past, women were expected to put their energy into their families pursuing school and careers and investing more energy into non romantic relationships. Be cause of this, women are left with less time to meet men and pursue romantic
74 relationships. Online dating offers women a time effective and convenient way to meet men amidst all the other responsibilities they have in their life. Conclusion Regardless of their reasoning, it seems as though Internet dating has allowed for profiles to find their perfect match. Women are very active in this process and seem to be expecting to find perfection in a partner since they are investing their time and (sometimes) their money into these Internet dating sites. The dating scripts which guide the process seem to be of comfort to these female internet daters, as it allows for time to think abou t their potential date and gives them an opportunity to dodge commitment if that is what they desire. feminist movement. Women are spending more time and expending more effort on their education and careers, as well as non romantic relationships. Women are also taking more initiative for their partner selections, not settling for less than what they report wanting. As was noted above, West and Zimmerman (1987) explain that doing ge nder is unavoidable and a person is performing their gender in all situations. They note that social movements, such as the feminist movement, provide the ideology and impetus to question gender performances; the feminist movement weakened the social accou ntability of people to perform their gender. These results are indicating that women feel more liberated to stray from traditional gender and dating norms, and that the advent of online dating is helping this feeling of liberation. Women report feeling lib erated to search and filter for specific characteristics they desire in potential partners.
7 5 Further, online dating offers women a time effective and convenient way to meet men amidst all the other responsibilities they have in their life. In addition to th ese changes, the women interviewed reported appreciating the online dating process. The process allows more freedom and authority to initiate interactions with men the women thought would be a good match as well as making it easier to cut off contact with men in which they were no longer interested. Women seem to feel less accountable to traditional gender scripts when dating online. The way women are doing gender in a virtual setting is different than the way they would do their gender in a more traditiona l (face to face) setting.
76 CHAPTER 5 FINDINGS, PART II : DATING EXPECTIONS HAVE REMAINED THE SAME Although the women interviewed made it clear that dating practices have changed with the advent of Internet dating, there were still a few dating expectations that remained the same. First, the notion that romantic relationships begin with initial Although the convenience of Internet dating was dually noted in most interviews, many of the women said there was no good replacement for the initial chemistry one feels when they first met someone face to face. Even though many of the men looked great Second, even though women reported appreciating the predictability of the initial stage s of Internet dating, many said it made dating online seem "artificial" and "scripted". Many women spoke of the importance of desiring to meet someone "out and about", but not having the time to do so. Further, many women reported that the spontaneity of m eeting someone face to face was desirable. Third, many women reported that no matter how they go about dating, most the men they meet are only interested in sex. These women reported that was not what they were looking for, and avoided dating sites that we re known for being "hook up" sites (okcupid, plentyoffish, zoosk). Many of the women interviewed reported that even though the men on the dating site would look great in their profile and pictures, there was sti ll a sense that something to
77 a while. It seems that the advent of Internet dating has not changed the idea of I d so picky about what a guy might have and be able to offer. With this other guy, we were talking about different stuff the line he was in grad sch The man with whom Bri was communicating online had many similar interests as she did, leading her to believe they would be compatible in a face to fa ce setting. However, when they met, they were not as compatible as she had believed. Bri defined the he was a really nice guy, but t to face meeting that seems essential in determining whether there ed 5 10 months. They at I found in the past was that internet dating you could have a determine whether the women will actually be attracted to the men. Mandy eloquently illustrated this problem:
78 is that someone can seem really com patible, but your interactio ns with them have no chemistry. I our interactions was too Mandy seemed to be confused about how a man can appear really compatible in their profiles, but then have no chemistry in a face to face setting. She reported knowing the furthers this point: The funny thing is th online dating thing because I think that for me, the first thing that is the most important for me is that initial you have chemistry you hang out with this person and you enjoy their personality the kind of e nergy and vibe they give off. And you can also tell their maturity level. Those are the things that are the most important. And I could honestly care less about their interests, like even if their interests were the exact same as mine if they lack maturit chemistry between us then, yea Internet dating and opposed to meeting in real life. I def prefer just meeting someone and having there be this natural chemistry between us. (Chelsea) For to face determined in a face to face setting. There has been much sociological literature focusing on initial attraction and dating. Burleson, Kunkel and Birch (1994) focused on initial attraction during speed dating events. The researchers found that similarit y in communication values influenced how satisfied people were in their dating relationships and how attracted they were to their partners. More specifically, similarities in affectively oriented communication skills
79 increased partner attraction. These ski lls included comforting communication patters, ego support, conflict management, and regulation. Other studies have determined that specific traits such as extroversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, positive affect, self esteem, low neuroticism and lo w negative affect improve relationship quality (Gattis et al., 2004). This style of communication and the presence of these specific traits would be difficult to determine in an online setting, which is why many of the women in this study reported not know face to face setting. There has also been a great deal written on attraction in the initial stages of relationship formation. Early sociological research found men focus more on physical at traction when considering potential partners, whereas women are more interested in socioeconomic status and ambitions of prospected partners (Feingold, 1992). Sociologists explained that these differences were evolutionary important to the human species. Women invest more energy into the rearing of children, and would like a man who is able to fiscally help. Men, on the other hand, and attracted to women who look as if they are young enough to reproduce. Further, Goode (1996) found that there were differen ces between what men and women looked for in personal advertisements. Men were far more influenced by looks and women were more influenced by success. Fisman et al. (2006) found very similar results when analyzing speed dating events. The authors found tha t women put greater weight on the intelligence and race of a potential partner during speed dating events, while men responded more to physical attractiveness.
80 Luo and Zhang (2006) also found that the strongest predictor of initial attraction was a partne preference for beauty was equally as true for women as it was for men in their speed dating study. They noted that this finding was inconsistent with the widely accepted findings in evol utionary research that there is a sex difference in preferences for long rational, conscious mind and their behaviors in real life encounters. For instance, if a woman was aske d to think about their preferences for a potential mate, they would likely give priority to characteristics such as earning potential. However, their actual, real life behaviors would place more of an emphasis on physical attraction of a potential mate; th ese behaviors may be irrational and not necessarily in their best reproductive rights, independence, and more dating freedom that women are consciously choosing physic to what the evolutionary studies on dating and mate selection suggest. potential partner, the y are still doing gender and sexuality in traditional ways. West and Zimmerman (1987) argue that no one can opt out of doing gender. Times and gender roles may be changing, but men and women are still doing gender. Women are doing gender when they aspire t idealized notion of heterosexuality (Ingraham, 1999; Cameron and Collins, 2000; Cott, 2000). Singles are looking for soul mates; someone with which they feel chemistry and someone they with whi
81 sexuality. As such, women in these interviews who reported the importance of the ere still doing gender, even if the doing of their gender is slightly different than it was in the past. Internet Dating is Artificial Another theme that arose in the analysis of the data is that many of the women felt Internet dating was artificial. Ev en though women reported appreciating the predictability of the initial stages of Internet dating, many said it made dating online seem "artificial" and "scripted". Many women spoke of desiring to meet a man "out and about", but not having the time to do s o. Further, many women reported that the spontaneity of meeting someone face to face was desirable. Many of the women interviewed thought the process of Internet dating was backwards; they knew everything about their date before they decided to go on a dat e with them. Kristen explained: well, if you met someone you would get more a sense of their personality and attraction e married before or whether they have children or what religion they were. But with Match, and other hat informed upfront is a good thing much information that really if you met them before hand and if there was chemistry, some of those Kristen believed that having so much personal information about her date upfront was not helpful. In fact, she thought that having so much information prior to the initial date may actually harm a potential relationship by causing a premature judgment of the man. Callie also discussed this problem:
82 so far expectation. You obviously liked different (Callie) For Callie, having so much information upfront makes the initial date awkward since she had read so much about who he was, but had never spoken to him face to face. Later, she went on to explain that the perception was often different that the perception she came away with after meeting the man face to face. Amanda explained that this discrepancy in perception may be the result of misrepresentation in online dating profile s: Its weird because you're kind of trying to sell yourself so you know its going to be sort of not totally genuine you can kind of get a sense at least on the superficial level about what someone is like at least about what they like, their hobbies (Amanda) Amanda seemed aware that much of what was written in online dating profiles was a lf. She hoped to take away just the facts from the profiles, and not develop any sort of perception of a man prior to a date. Hardey (2004) researched the role of authenticity in Internet courtship and ves with the use of their profiles. Brym and Lenton (2003) also discussed the role of misrepresentation in dating profiles and Lenton found that over a quarter of their resp ondents confessed to misrepresenting themselves, especially about their age, marital status, and appearance. Lawson and natural that few seem to give much thought to what usually could be dismissed as a
83 of information available to the respondents about each other in Internet interactions and 01). Many of the women interviewed had acknowledged that this sort of deception was common in their Internet dating experiences. These experiences made the process of Internet dating feel more artificial and led to many awkward initial dates. The idea th at Internet dating was artificial was wide spread in many of the interviews. The face to face encounters these women experienced with men from these with OkCupid, but mediated relationship to a face to face relationship often felt unnatural or forced for these women. Jessica explained: eet people. I do better in group settings or if I meet somebody out if a ally hard to make the thing work. (Jessica) to awkward and pressured face to face encounters. Lawson and Leck (2006) found similar results in their research on In ternet daters. resulted in many respondents reporting that they built inaccurate pictures in their minds
84 about the type of people they were interacting with before they met result of these inaccurate perceptions, respondent in their study felt that face to face meetings were often not as imagined, and lead to an artificial sense of intimacy. The authors concluded that Internet dating is therefore nothing communication going smoothly up until the initial face to face encounter. At that point, ken, as well as the artificial sense of intimacy that came with in. In the Chapter 4 it was noted that many of the women interviewed felt Internet Much of this belief st emmed from the fact that the women interviewed were all very busy with their school and careers, and had very little time to meet new potential partners. It seems that although women appreciated the convenience of Internet dating, they still preferred and valued more organic or traditional ways to meet men. Meeting men online was, to many, an artificial process that led to awkward face to face encounters. Men are Just Looking for Sex Many of the women interviewed reported no matter how they went about dat ing, most the men they meet were only interested in sex. These women reported casual sexual partners was not what they were looking for, and steered clear of dating sites known for being "hook up" sites. Women reported that avoiding men who were looking
85 fo r hook ups was a serious concern of theirs when on these dating sites. Sandi explained: she went on dates with them: A nd you knew that he just wanted to hook ts. (Do you get that a you being my girl fri some one who is on there seriously versus someone whose seriously on there. Like you can kind of guess not digging on that. (Sandi) Sandi found herself reading into the things that men would say to her and ways in which they would present themselves on dating sites to try and determine their true see analyze their self presentation (shirtless profile pictures) to stay away from men she perceived as only wanting sex. Chloe also learned to look out for key phrases that may imply a man is just interested in sex: These diffe rent kinds of people who will send me messages, but usually I just just ignore it. There were pe ople who would send me messages and introduce themselves. The way I judge whether or not to get in contact with these men is
86 hang out with anyone. If people send me messages saying who the y are, how I usually write back. (Chloe) Bri experienced similar problems dating online: You get a lot of people who focus on things that you're not focused on so if a ad one guy message me because he was going to be in Gainesville for one weekend and asked me if I was interested in a quickie. I responded N O. Are you serious? Stuff like that. (Bri) Bri, Sandi, and Chloe all explained that there were many men on these sites only boundaries with men, and some of the confusion that results from enforci ng boundaries: able with that. They're like ok, all your friends about it, and then you never hear from them again. (Kat) Many of these women developed ways to determine if men are only interested in sex (by look ing at their narrative summary or their profile picture), or ways to establish boundaries with these men. Other women simply avoided dating sites they thought were known for being hook becaus e of that there are a lot of men who are looking for a mistress that was my encou
87 up: When I moved back to the states, I talked to a few friends who were internet dating and depending on the city people lived, there were different connotations associated with all of them. So, my stepsister lives in Chicago it was her or my fr iend in Seattle, but something to the effect that Match.com is for hook ups. So you would go on match if you wanted to have promiscuous relationships. (Beth) Beth believed that dating sites all had different connotations attached to them, and she avoided dating sites that were known for being hook up sites. Mandy voiced similar beliefs: On Zoosk, men are very blatant about it. On this site, it seems like men have to respect you a little more when they know you're also a student. But on Zoosk, Id get very random: wanna meet up for sex? Like really blatant hook up requests. Id never respond to those go just for that. I always put my preferences on my profile for hook ups or no strings attached. I always put that I want something in between marriage and a hook up. (Sam) The women interviewed used various tactics to try and avoid men online who they thought were only looking for sex: reading the personal narratives or emails and watching for key phrases or words, avoiding shirtless profile pictures, and avoiding websites known for being hook up sites. Some of the women interviewed were more understanding of the plethora of men online just looking for sex. These women believed t hat all men are only looking for sex, but the Internet makes it easier for them to be upfront about their desires. Nancy tell you that online, but in person, you do understanding on men:
88 But I think having that gap the digital gap definitely does change communication. People are a lot more bold than they would be in real life. I had a guy on match once, before he even told me his n ame, wanted to know whether I was into anal. would have approached me in real life, in a bar, and asked me that. (Linda) Linda believed the virtual nature of Internet dating allows men to feel freer expressing their desires. Linda believed that men have these same desires whether or not they are dating online, but the digital gap changes communication in a way that they feel bolder to express their interests. There has been young adults. college aged women was marriage, yet many college aged women still partake in hook ups. Bogle (2008) also looke d at the hook up culture and found that hooking up was the dominant script for college student intimacy. However, these students also reported desiring a more conventional relationship in the future. Bogle found that more women than men were disappointed w ith hookups because they desired more conventional relationships. among middle upper class females. Hamilton and Armstrong look ed at how both class culture works in college. The authors found that (p.592). Hamilton and Armstrong e xplain that women are often gui ded by a relational imperative: that normal women should always want love, romance, relationships, and marria ge
89 The literature on the hook up culture to date seems to focus largely on how women are finding a balance between this new hook up culture and wanting more conventional relationships in the future. Most of the women interviewed in this study desired a more substantial connection to their date than a hook up. As was noted above, women are more independent and sexually free than they have been in the past, and yet it seems clear from these interviews that they continue to refrain largely from hook ups. This finding could possibly be explained by study on how sexuality is used in heterosexu al relationships. The authors explained that women often report receiving messages from male partners that indicate high interest in sexual activity as well as pressure to engage in sexual activity. Women often responded to theses messages by setting sexua l boundaries. The authors noted that whereas men often established heteromasculinity through expressions of high sexual interest, female partners often balanced this approach with their own traditionally gendered displays of feminine virtue (reining in mal e sexual desire and setting boundaries on sexual activity). should behave sexually are also changing. Men an accordance with the liberalization of our society in terms of sexuality and gender. However, the women interviewed still seem to be holding onto the value that women should not readily engage in hook ups. Conclusion This C hapter outlined three important themes that arose in the coding of the interviews. These themes seemed to suggest that although many gender scripts and
90 initiation strategies have changed with the advent of Internet dating, many dating expectations ha ve remained the same. First, the notion that romantic relationships It seems likely that with the rise of large emphasis o many women felt dating online was "artificial" and "scripted". Although women reported appreciated the convenience of Internet dating, they still valued more conventional ways to meet men. Meeting men online was, to many, an artificial process that led to awkward face to face encounters. Third, many of the women reported being concerned that men online were only looking for hook ups, and reported avoiding dating sites that were known fo r being "hook up" sites. The women interviewed explained the hook up culture was widespread, but that they desired more than just a hook up from the men they met online.
91 CHAPTER 6 FINDINGS PART III: DISCOMFORT/STIGMA/TABOO ATTACHED TO INTERNET DATING Jan C hapters 5 and Chapter 6 analyzed the ways Internet dating has altered the dating landscape for women, an d how women, despite these changes, continue to do their gender throughout the partner selection process. Chapter 4 focused on how Internet dating has changed gender scripts and relationship initiation. Chapter 5 examined how some dating expectations have remained the same, even with the advent of Internet dating sites. Women seem to be navigating through murky waters, trying to balance their independence with societal notions about how women should behave in the dating world. Internet dating has changed th e dating world for many women, placing the power of relationship initiation in their hands. Perhaps because of this reason, many of the women interviewed spoke of how there was a societal stigma attached to Internet dating. Some of the women felt shame for participating in Internet how are you Other women acknowledged that although Internet dating was once very taboo, American society is beginning to understand the significance these sites play in the it used to be when I did it 5
92 Because Internet dating is becoming so common, a few of the women explained that it was loosing its stigma: (Interviewer: Is there anything else you would like to add about Internet dating that we have not discussed?) Yea, for one thing, the stigma. students UF students d here why am I not able to meet them as one, yo u have o talk about it! (Bri) I started gosh about 7 years ago. I first started internet dating when it was still a little taboo. I started with eharmony because I thought it was a little more discreet and I was embarrassed about it. (Linda ) For Bri, Internet dating is becoming less taboo since so many people are using these sites to find partners. Beth explained that she had not considered Internet dating until a tually know Match.com and she wa s like I promise, its not weird, just try it. So I did, and at I just lurked. But then I realized it was pretty normal. (Mandy) Once these women were able to experience what the dating site was like, they lost much of the fear and feelings of shame that they had prior to their experience. Mandy explained that part of the reason she became more comfortable with the process of days, w
93 they are interested. Knowing that their potential date has similar interests of ten put women at ease when meeting them in a face to face setting: So [we had the] same interests, studies so I can go in [to the dating site] and w all the same professors I did so I thought it was really safe. I was like ok ill try it. So we went to Starbucks on campus. Which was a little less sketch for me too. (Mandy) Mandy was on a dating site that allowed for her to choose from men at her p articular university. She was able to search her university for men who were studying the same thing she was and who had the same professors as she did. This familiarity put her at ease when meeting the men face to face. She was also able to meet the men o n the Starbucks campus, in a place they both knew very well. worry about the safety of being on the sites: ked about as a taboo. And people warned us against doing it because people were worried about older men preying on younger girls, and that their intentions would be bad. past. You still have to be careful. I always meet guys in public places, or near Many of the women had a preconceived notion about the safety of Internet dating sites before they signed up as members. This preconceived notion often tainted their initial view of the process, but once they got going, they realized it was safe and not so never do that. I had a stigma against it. I thought it wa s creepy and weird. I was just like no, heck no. But its funny because once I got out here I started talking to a couple of my coworkers who had done online dating and they were like talking all about it. (Chelsea)
94 Chelsea warmed up to the idea of Intern et dating when she realized many of her friends were on these sites. Once she became engaged with the process, she became more comfortable and open to the idea of Internet dating. Perhaps a large reason why many women reported being initially uncomfortabl e with the idea of Internet dating is that many women still believe it is not a completely natural way to meet men. This idea was di scussed in depth in Chapter 5 When asked never friends felt artificial to many of the women interviewed, as was noted above. The art ificial nature of these meetings added to the discomfort associated with the process of Internet dating for these women. Chapter 5 and Chapter 6 discussed the ways in which Internet dating has altered the way women date and the expectations they have in re gard to dating. This C hapter pertaining to Internet dating. West and Zimmerman (1987) argue that one can never truly opt out of doing gender. Chapter 5 and Chapter 6 disc ussed ways in which women are doing gender differently when they engage in Internet dating versus traditional dating. The change in the way women do their gender has seemed to cause turbulence perceptions. Because Internet dating chal lenges old ways of doing gender, there seems to be near universal discomfort, or at least acknowledgment of this discomfort, when it comes to Internet dating. West and Zimmerman (1987) l members
95 orient to the fact that their activities are subject to comment. Actions are often designed with an eye to their accountability, that is, how they might look and how they might be are holding themselves accountable for the traditional doing of their gender. The women are aware that the way they engage in Internet dating is different from the way they engage in traditional dating. Because much of the way these women engage in Interne traditional) gendered behavior (West and Zimmerman, p.14, 1987), they may feel a sense of guilt or shame for participating in Internet dating. West and Zimmerman explained that this dilemma occurs readily when women engage in b ehaviors usually associated with being male. However, the authors are also careful to point out that even appearances to the contrary. This contradiction may be why many of the women interviewed reported feeling shame or embarrassment for partaking in Internet dating. Furthermore, this contradiction may be why many of the women interviewed were careful to explain that they were not just looking for sex a trait traditionally associated with male gender performance. These women were experiencing accountability to act in accordance with their gender.
96 CHAPTER 7 CONCLUSION My central goal of this study has been to add to the scholarship on West and (or has not) changed the way women do their gender. West and Zimmerman (1987) explained that people are constantly set of traits residing within individuals, but something individuals do in their everyday social inter actions. As such, gendered behaviors are not rooted in biology, but are social some ways, changed dramatically with the use of Internet dating. However, there is still an obvious adherence to traditional gender roles for many female online daters. Using qualitative interviews with 30 heterosexual women between the ages of 18 and 35 who were currently engaged in Internet dating, this study explored the ways in which women w ere doing gender when involved in Internet dating. Interviews focused internet dating), including gendered attributes and behaviors (how they do gender). Interviews were a nalyzed using grounded theory and coding of the interview data focused on how participants did gender and Internet dating. This C hapter will provide a summary of the significant findings, some limitations of the study, and ideas for future research. Furth er, I will discuss ways in which this
97 Summary of Significant Findings Chapter 4 analyzed the ways Internet dating has altered the dating landscape for women, and focused on the ways in which women have altered their gender performance as a result of these changes, specifically in regard to gender scripts and relationship initiation. Chapter 5 examined how some dating expectations have remained the same, even with the advent of Internet dating sites. Women seem to be navigating through murky waters, trying to balance their independence with societal notions about how women should behav e in the dating world. Internet dating has changed the dating world for many women, placing the power of relationship initiation in their hands. Perhaps because of this reason, many of the women interviewed spoke of how there was a societal stigma attached to Internet dating, a theme that was discussed in C hapter six. Chapter 4 focused on how gender scripts and relationship initiation have changed with female Internet daters. Many of the women interviewed acknowledge that Internet dating is different than more traditional forms of dating in that they feel more liberated to seek the perfect match and initiate contact with men. The data supporting this claim revolved around several important findings. First, Internet dating has allowed women to pick out very specific characteristics in men that they report being important to them in relationships. Women report these specific characteristics may not matter so much if they had met the man in a face to face setting. The pool of eligibles has become much larger wi th Internet dating sites, and as a result, women are now able to be much more specific and picky about their desires and expectations in a partner. The women interviewed explained that because they were paying monthly dues, they felt
98 they should impose rig id filters when looking for potential dates. Because they say themselves as the consumers, they were incredibly picky because they had so many look elsewhere. With t he rise of Internet dating sites, and the changing gender norms and expectations in our society, women feel more liberated to search and filter for specific characteristics they desire in potential partners. It is clear that what women are looking for in p otential partners is changing, partially due to their changing rol es in society; women are doing gender differently than they have done it in the past. However, as West and Zimmerman pointed out, one can never truly opt out of doing gender. Although much h as changed for women over the past few decades, women are still doing gender when choosing their ideal man. The women interviewed were still quite bound to hegemonic ideals when filtering out traits. The women were looking for good looking, tall, educated men with good jobs that paid well. So, although women felt as if still seemed quite concentrated on hegemonic ideals. Second, the initiation process of Internet mediat ed relationship is scripted by rules and expectations unlike those used in traditional dating practices. Women reported these rules make the beginning stages of dating more predictable and accessible. For instance, the women interviewed reported virtual co mmunication prior to the initial date helped the relationship progress and allowed for them to feel more comfortable with the initial meeting. In general, the women interviewed reported appreciating the online dating process, in that it gave them more free dom and authority
99 to initiate interactions with men they thought would be a good match as well as cut off contact with men in which they were no longer interested. Women seemed to feel less accountable to traditional gender scripts when dating online. The way women initiate dating in a virtual setting is different than the way they would in a more traditional (face to face) setting. Based on these findings, it is possible that women are drawn to online dating because it provides them with more agency and fr eedom from stereotypical gender roles. Third, many of the women interviewed reported Internet dating is a more convenient way to meet men given their busy schedules. They acknowledged that Internet dating is much more accessible to them than more tradition al forms of dating. It seems that this change is the result of larger social issues such as women spending more time pursuing school and careers and investing more energy into non romantic relationships. Because of this, women are left with less time to me et men and pursue romantic relationships. Meeting men in a more traditional face to face setting simply is not realistic for many women. Online dating offers women a time efficient and convenient way to meet men amidst all the other responsibilities they h ave in their life. Regardless of their reasoning, it seems as though Internet dating has allowed for profiles to find their perfect match. Women are taking more initiative for t heir partner selections, not settling for less than what they report wanting. These results indicate that women feel more liberated to stray from traditional gender and dating norms, and that the advent of online dating is helping this feeling of liberatio n.
100 Chapter 5 focused on how dating expectations have largely remained the same with Internet dating, specifically in regard to the partner selection process. Although the women interviewed made it clear that dating practices have changed with the advent of Internet dating, there were still a few dating expectations that remained the same. First, same, even though dating practices seem to be changing. Although the convenience of Internet dating was dually noted in most interviews, many of the women said there was no good replacement for the initial chemistry one feels when they first met someone face to This finding coincides with scholarship on the idealized notion of heterosexuality (In graham, 1999; Cameron and Collins, 2000; Cott, 2000). Singles are looking for soul mates; someone with which they feel chemistry and someone with which they can marry and share a expectations of gender and sexuality. As such, women in these interviews who reported practices are slightly different than they were in the past. Se cond, even though women reported appreciating the predictability of the initial stages of Internet dating, many said it made dating online seem "artificial", "scripted", or Many of the women interviewed felt Internet dating was much more conve stemmed from the fact that the women interviewed were all very busy with their school and careers, and had very little time to meet new potential partners. It seems that
101 althoug h women appreciated the convenience of Internet dating, they still preferred and valued more organic or traditional ways to meet men. Meeting men online was, to many, an artificial process that led to awkward face to face encounters. This key finding may h ave been due to the fact that Internet dating experiences. One of the women interviewed explained this was the result inaccu rate representations of themselves on these sites, women felt that the initial meeting was often not as imagined, and lead to an artificial sense of intimacy. Third, many women reported that no matter how they went about dating, most men were only interes ted in sex. These women reported that casual hook ups were not what they were looking for, and avoided dating sites that were known for being "hook up" sites. As was noted above, women are more independent and sexually free than they have been in the past, and yet it seems clear from these interviews that they continue to refrain largely from hook ups. These finding coincided with West and holding onto the value that women sh ould not readily engage in hook ups, and doing gender in accordance with this value. Chapter 6 focused on the discomfort, stigma, and taboo attached to Internet dating. Some of the women reported feeling shame for participating in Internet dating. Many o f the women interviewed had a preconceived notion about the safety of Internet dating sites before they signed up as members. This preconceived notion often tainted their initial belief of the process, but once they began participating in the site, they re Perhaps a large reason why many women
102 reported being initially uncomfortable with the idea of Internet dating is that many women still believe it is not a completely natural way to meet men. Meeting men online felt a rtificial to many of the women interviewed, as was noted above. The artificial nature of these meetings added to the discomfort associated with the process of Internet dating for these women. Some of the research findings explained above indicated that wom en are doing gender differently when they engage in Internet dating versus traditional dating. The change in the way women do their gender has seemed to cause turbulence perceptions. Because Internet dating challenges old ways of doin g gender, there seems to be near universal discomfort, or at least acknowledgment of this discomfort, when it comes to Internet dating. It is possible that the women interviewed are holding themselves accountable for the traditional doing of their gender. traditional) gendered behavior (West and Zimmerman, p.14, 1987), they may feel a sense of guilt or shame for participating in Internet dating. West and Zimmerman explained th at this dilemma occurs readily when women engage in behaviors usually associated with being male. This may also be a reason why many of the women interviewed were careful to explain that they were not just looking for sex a trait traditionally associated with male gender performance. In summary, it seems clear that although the way women are doing gender while participating in online dating is changing, women are nonetheless continuing to do gender. The way that women do gender has been altered by the inc reased use of Internet dating, but these women continue to adhere to many of the traditional
103 their potential partner. West and Zimmerman explained that no one can opt ou t of going gender. Although the women interviewed reported doing dating differently with the use of the Internet, doing gender is still a pertinent theme in many of these interviews. Furthermore, many of the women interviewed reported feeling held accounta ble for doing gender appropriately, even while engaged in Internet dating. Areas of Future Research Qualitative research methods generally rely on smaller sample sizes than other empirical methods. This qualitative study had a sample size of 30. This allowed for a greater in depth understanding of research findings. However, because of the small sample size, the research findings may not be generalizable to all women participating in Internet dating. Future research should interview women over the age of 35 in order to provide a more in depth analysis of the experiences of other age groups female Internet daters. Age may be an interesting variable when considering how gender is ernet dating. Older women may not be as comfortable shedding traditional gender roles as are women under the age of 35. Secondly, this study helped to determine whether Internet daters behave similarly, or if they have broken free from the more traditiona l gender roles. Studies that have examined motivations of Internet daters have explained women are drawn to online dating because it provides them with more agency and freedom from stereotypical gender roles (Lawson and Leck, 2006). In other words, women a re less acceptable for women to make the initial contact). With the security that arises from Internet dating, and the agency it provides women, it seems likely that there will be
104 more equalitarian initiation practices in Internet relationship formation. To date, there has been no research addressing this important issue. Furthermore, male Internet daters should also be interviewed. This study focused on how women behaved in regard to their gender. It would be interesting to determine Lastly, there also seems to b e a lack of research addressing the role of stigma in Internet dating. Stigma and shame was an important theme that arose in many of the interviews in this study. It would be interesting to determine whether both men and women perceived shame and stigma as being an integral aspect of Internet dating. Significance and Contributions of this Study relationships have become more egalitarian and women are spending more of their time an while dating has changed, but it has not changed completely and it is quite c lear that they are still doing gender in a particular way. West and Zimmerman (1987) argued tha t one may not opt out of doing gender. The results of this study indicate that these women have altered their gender performance, specifically in regard to gender scripts and relationship initiation. However, women continue to do gender throughout the partne r selection process. W something more than they are.
105 up culture is als o significant to help challenges women experience with Internet dating. The hook up culture in America has made it difficult for women to date without feeling pressure to b ecome sexually active with their dates early on in the relationship. The Internet is a place where women feel they can sort out men who are serious about dating and those who simply want to hook up. Online dating may be as successful as it is because the h ook up culture has diminished the traditional dating culture. In addition, the gendered dynamics discussed throughout this research are also characterized by class. The female respondents of this study are outlining a middle class experience of online dati ng and the hook up culture. Most of the research to date on the hook up culture has focused on women in college or middle class women. All of the women in this study were either in college or right out of college and in professional careers. It seems that the findings of this study coincide with other studies focusing on the new hook up culture. However, this study takes it one step further by looking at how Internet dating may impact the new hook up culture by which many middle class women report being aff ected. Lastly, the business applications of such a study are important. Because more and more people use the Internet to begin relationships, there is a need for more research and information on Internet dating. These research results may help companies ca ter their sites to the unique preferences and beliefs of their female members. Shedding light on how women initiate online relationships may potentially assist in the development of Internet dating sites.
106 APPENDIX INTERVIEW QUESTION GUIDE Box 1: Interview Question Guide Open ended Questions: 1. Tell me how you get started with Internet dating. 2. What sort of things do you look for in other people's profiles? 3. Talk to me about one person you met online that resulted in two or more in person dates. Tell me about that process Probes: 1. How do you construct your profile? 2. Which pictures do you choose to display? 3. What is important to you in other people's profiles? 4. Why do you look for certain things in other people's profiles? 5. How do you filter through people who you are interested in you? 6. Do you think you look for different things in others when you are involved in more traditional dating? Questionnaire: 1. Age: 2. Ethnicity: 3. Occupation: 4. Level of education: 5. Religion: 6. How long have you been using Internet dating? 7. Please list 5 words that summarize how you wish to be portrayed in your Internet dating profile.
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113 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH Katie Schubert graduated from the University of California, Irvine with three Bachelor of Arts in psychology, criminology, and anthropology. In 2008, she graduated with a Master of Arts degree in sociology from the University of Florida. In May 2014, she obtain ed her second Master of Arts in clinical mental health counseling from Adams State University In 2014, she received her PhD from the University of Florida in She is currently an instructor in the sociology, anthropology, and criminal justice department at t he University of Wisconsin, River Falls.