“In recent years, online dating has become an increasingly popular and a socially accepted way to meet significant others” (Whitty & Carr, 2006). As online dating has become a prominent way for individuals to form romantic relationships, the methods in which people are communicating is evolving. Men and women alike are using online dating sites that include a monthly fee such as chemistry.com, match.com, and eHarmony.com as tools for finding their potential lifelong partners (Singer, 2010). It has become simple and easy to create a dating profile on these sites, which typically lists the individual’s age, personal characteristics, along with a picture of themselves (Varian, 2005). Romantic relationships that are formed and evolve through the use of these dating services establishes the fact that the internet is an important part to many individuals lives. This is reiterated as Singer (2010) states that “online dating is a $976 million annual industry in the United States” (p. 1). As one can see, this development has influenced the way in which many Americans utilize the internet to live out a major part of their lives.
Internet based technologies such as dating sites, have impacted the way in which many Americans communicate with each other. As our society has become more dependent on using the internet to accomplish simple daily activities, the way in which a personal, romantic relationship is constructed, has also become reliant on the internet. The generation that makes up today’s young men and women are seen to spend an increasingly significant amount of time in front of computers (Lehmann-Haupt, 2006). As much of our generation has become accustom to using computers and the internet frequently, online dating sites serve as a magnet for men and women who have become so reliant on the internet. Further explained, “online dating has grown rapidly in popularity and social acceptance and is second to meeting through friends, as a way for singles to connect” (cbc.ca, 2012, p. 1). The connection that is made between singles on online dating sites is based solely on the description that is read on the person that is being looked at.
It is stated that “the internet holds great promise for helping adults form healthy and supportive romantic partnerships, and those relationships are one of the best predictors of emotional and physical health” (cbc.ca, 2012). It is an imperative factor in our lives that we are not only healthy, but happy and uplifted with the people that are surrounding us. Romantic relationships that are formed through online dating sites have given many individuals the opportunity to have this happiness in their own lives. In looking at the behavior between men and women on online dating sites, a difference between the two is obvious. Men tend to view more profiles than women, and men are “more likely to initiate contact with a women after viewing her profile than women are after viewing a man’s profile” (cbc.ca, 2012, p.1). The differences that are portrayed between men and women’s’ actions online can affect how the relationship is communicated through the very beginning.
Beginning a relationship online involves many stages and can take a considerable amount of time. The growth of relationships also takes time and effort by both individuals involved. An important part of the growth of relationships is known as individuality. Individuality describes that every person has their own unique needs, approaches to love, ambitions, and characteristics that influence what one looks for in a relationship. A person’s decision of an individual they are interested in beginning a relationship with is also affected by features of oneself that the person may not be conscious of (Wood, 2010). With online dating sites, a person’s interest is initiated by the characteristics and information that the other has posted about them. As men and women look through different profiles, the requirements that they have in a potential partner, and the qualities they are looking for, can be read and apprehended on a basic level through the profile descriptions. A persons individual traits and values play a vital role when choosing a partner and beginning a committed romantic relationship. Individuality and setting standards for what is important in a romantic relationship for an individual, is one of the most substantial parts in the formation and growth of a relationship.
Communication is a system that includes different factors and changes over time. Interpersonal communication is systemic, which explains that communication occurs within different classifications. Circumstances, cultures, intimate experiences, and prior communication had with others are all factors in which affect current communication (Wood, 2010). In American culture, communicating and building relationships with others online is commonly accepted. Though this means of communication can be seen as less personal, it has been the reason for many romantic relationships across the United States. The expectations that individuals form of one another are explained in the ways which we communicate to each other. As two people talk online, certain interpretation of the other are formed because of the different influential factors in which the communication is taking place. The impact online communication has on relationships is a result from the situation and time in which it takes place.
Individuals rely on personal constructs, or the way in which a person view others based on basic characteristics the person categorizes them in based on their personal beliefs. This is necessary for forming opinions on other people or events (Wood, 2010). Profiles create on online dating sites give the audience a basic understanding for who that individual is. As one reads the information given and views the picture of the person, they can decide if they think the individual is smart, attractive, friendly, etc. based on the personal constructs they have for evaluating others. Online profiles differ and can sometimes create issues with personal identity. Communication scholars Kang and Hoffman (2011) conducted a study on why people use online dating sites, and the different factors that are involved in online dating. They found that, “in general, individuals enjoy engaging in interpersonal relationships on the Internet because of the opportunity to recreate their identity, the notion of self-presentation creates a different concern in the context of online dating” (Kang & Hoffman, 2011, p. 206). As a person is viewing another profile, they make assumptions of that person based on the grounding in which they make judgments. How smart someone is or how responsible they seem to be are examples of perceptions that could be formed.
Language affects relationships and especially in romantic relationships. The characteristics that people use to describe experiences they have in relationships, influences how they actually feel about the relationship (Wood, 2010). In a study conducted by Communication scholars Pauley and Emmers-Sommer (2007) they examined the impact that internet technology has on romantic relationships. They found that those using online dating sites had higher levels of certainty and held larger expectations for future interactions with their partner (Pauley & Emmers-Sommer, 2007). Those who use online dating sites tend to have a more positive perception of others and this is emphasized through the language used to talk to these people. Using language in a positive sense allows a relationship to grow and prosper, whereas negative language can hurt a relationship. As individuals communicate online and are forming romantic relationships, the way in which they use language is vital for the future of the relationship.
In conclusion, online dating services such as chemistry.com, match.com, and eHarmoney.com, have opened up a whole new world to those looking for a committed romantic relationship. As our society’s media outlets continue to expand, the ways in which people can communicate their feelings, ideas, and personal information is growing too. The process in which individuals interact with one another and build personal relationships through communicating, is evident even through online dating services. Whitty and Carr (2006) state that “more individuals may seek romance by turning to online dating and may even experience greater interpersonal and romantic connections online than in their offline lives” (p. 205). The connections built with other single individuals are done through trust, understanding, and an open mind.
The internet has opened up a world for single individuals to meet their potential partner through reading and interpreting text, rather than communicating face-to-face. This rather new phenomenon that has expanded via internet, has given many people a chance at a committed romantic relationship that they otherwise, may not have had. Communication through online dating services is done through reading and analyzing language that is displayed. Trust, effective communication, and an openness to new ideas, are all qualities that are involved in forming and building a romantic relationship through online dating services.
cbc.ca. (2012, February 6). Online dating may encourage ‘shopping’ for mate. Retrieved fromhttp://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2012/02/06/online-dating-may-encoura_n_1257582.html
Kang, T., & Hoffman, L. H. (2011). Why Would You Decide to Use an Online Dating Site? Factors That Lead to Online Dating. Communication Research Reports, 28(3), 205-213. doi:10.1080/08824096.2011.566109
Lehmann-Haupt, R. (2006, February 12). Is the right chemistry a click nearer?. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2006/02/12/fashion/sundaystyles/12chemistry.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0
Pauley, P. M., & Emmers-Sommer, T. M. (2007). The Impact of Internet Technologies on Primary and Secondary Romantic Relationship
Singer, N. (2010, February 6). Better loving through chemistry. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/07/business/07stream.html
Varian, H. R. (2005, July 1). A look at online dating, by the numbers. Retrieved fromhttp://www.nytimes.com/2005/06/30/technology/30iht-dating.html
Whitty, M.T., & Carr, A.N. (2006). Cyberspace romance: The psychology of online relationships. Hampshire, UK: Palgrave Macmillan.
Wood, J.T. (2010) Interpersonal Communication. (Sixth ed, pp. 103-104). Boston, MA: Wadsworth.
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