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There Is More to Love: Meeting and Mating in The 21st Century


This dissertation explores how individuals meet and mate in the 21st Century. Technology has always influenced the way we date, but meeting a partner online is increasingly common. I employ a mixed methods approach to understand the complex online dating space. Using three unique data sources, I explore how facial attractiveness, gender, and third parties structure online dating interactions.

In chapter one, I examine the influence of facial attractiveness and demographic factors on initiation and response behavior on a match-based online dating site. I also influence whether the context of the online dating site, match-based, influences traditional dating scripts. I use data from an online dating site to examine these questions. The results of this chapter indicate that facial attractiveness and demographic factors influence initiation and response behavior online.

In addition, match-based sites help to diminish the effect of traditional dating scripts on initiation and response behavior online.

In chapter two, I investigate how individuals negotiate the tension between romantic and prosaic love. I also examine whether the preferences individuals express during confidential focus groups and interviews matches what they express in publicly posted online dating profiles. This chapter uses data that have not been used in prior published work on online dating: online dating profile content and focus group and interview data. The results of this chapter indicate that a third logic, market, should be considered in the typology of love.

In chapter three, I examine the involvement of third parties in the romantic partner selection process, specifically the involvement of mothers in the romantic lives of their children. The major question I would like to address in this chapter is how the dynamics of gender operate in the reproduction of family relationships. The results of the study indicate that mothers’ presentation of their children both in their profiles and in their correspondence with other mothers is based upon strategy.

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