ABSTRACT Online dating has become an increasingly acceptable way for “singles” to meet appropriate partners. The author uses discourse analysis to explore the use of language in the construction of gendered identities in 20 online profiles, comparing the norms of gender presentation and communication with the ways in which language is used to signal various kinds of gendered “selves.” Dating sites require users to develop a new literacy of self-presentation, one that reinforces and re-inscribes the tendency toward promotionalism that permeates contemporary social life. In this context, how are Internet and social media users tapping into existing social and cultural resources and putting gender norms to work in their representations of self? How do online dating sites provide insight into an ongoing, reflexive process of self-promotion and self-construction?
OkCupid isn't the best choice for people who are looking to get into a long-term relationship; the vast majority of users are under 30 and not necessarily looking for anything serious. "If you're looking for a serious relationship, my advice is spend the money for a paid membership," Masini says. "It shows commitment." But if you're looking for a casual, but active dating life without any of the cost of other dating sites, give OkCupid a try.
Facilitated by the medium of the Internet, dating advertisements have undergone a significant change during approximately the last 15 to 20 years. They now feature much more text and usually a photo. Lists of “check the box” questions can do away with the need for explicit categorizations such as “S[ingle] W[hite] F[emale].” This complicates the process of constructing a (gendered) image for the dating marketplace, since users can no longer rely on signalling broadly using a relatively simple code. Instead, they are more likely to be tailoring their profiles to specific audiences.
Mutual is a free dating app for members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. You set up a profile, and then the app works similarly to Tinder. If two people express an interest in each other while swiping through user profiles, they're matched and able to start chatting. There's even a "double take" feature where you can get a second chance to swipe right on a profile if you accidentally skip it while scrolling. Facebook is required in order for you to use the app. This is to help eliminate the presence of fake profiles or bots.
Instead of endlessly scrolling through a bunch of people that don't bring you joy, the app will send you a select six profiles (all people who have already indicated they’re into you) every day at noon. For those you decide to message, the app will even hold your hand during conversations by suggesting icebreakers to get things started until you’re ready to take things off the app and grab coffee (or bagels) for real.
To use the site, each user had to create a profile with some minimal requirements, including the name and “headline,” as well as fill in two free-form text boxes titled “About me” and “What I’m looking for in a person.” Users also checked boxes describing “who” they wanted to meet (man or woman were the options provided) and for what kind of relationship (“short-term,” “long-term,” “friendship,” etc.). Users had to identify themselves as either male or female (the form does not allow for identification as transgender or genderqueer). Other boxes included such information as body weight and height, hair length and colour, education level and occupation, as well as religion and smoking and drinking habits. I accessed the site by creating a profile and filling in only the minimum required information.
We tested online dating websites and apps aimed at broad audiences, but there are many options for tailored dating experiences. If you’re looking for something specific in a mate, odds are there's a dating website or app just for that. For example, the Color Dating app allows users to focus on a specific ethnicity. Christian Mingle caters to singles of the Christian faith. Silver Singles is a paid service for people entering their golden years who are looking for a relationship. There are also websites for people with certain medical needs. SpectrumSingles.com is geared toward people on the autism spectrum, while Dating4Disabled is an option for people with disabilities. There are also options for people living alcohol-free lives, like Single and Sober. It's similar to OKCupid, but its users don't drink. In short, there are plenty of online dating options, no matter what you’re looking for in life.
I created this post as a guide to help you find the best online dating site for you. I’ve done online dating extensively in the United States, read a ton of reviews, and listened to the experiences of friends who have tried out the various sites below. As I mention in my online dating e-book, when I started out, I had no clue what I was doing, and my money was going down the drain each month with no results (or girlfriend) to show for it. I realized over time that I was signing up for the wrong sites and, therefore, was not putting myself in the best position to succeed. Live and learn!
Like Raya, joining The League can take a bit of effort. You need to set up a profile and allow the app to access your Facebook and LinkedIn accounts. The League uses these networks to verify your information and to make sure colleagues do not see your account. After you complete your application, The League will verify your eligibility, and you will either be accepted on the spot (rare), rejected (common), or waitlisted. If waitlisted, it can take several hours to several months to become a full-fledged member.
Eckert and McConnell-Ginet (2003) describe traditional, binary gender stereotypes for masculinity and femininity in terms of the ideally gendered heterosexual couple: physically, the man is usually taller and darker; the woman is shorter in stature and smaller, often lighter in complexion. This reflects how “women and men are required to complement each other—to be ‘opposite’ rather than merely ‘different,’” an assumption that reflects and reinforces the binary perspective (Cameron & Kulick, 2003, p. 49). In her content analysis of print dating advertisements, Jagger (1998) codes a number of personality traits as “masculine” (p. 801): intelligence, assertiveness, strength of character, and those characteristics associated with being ambitious and hard-working. “Feminine” traits include empathy; coquetry; passivity; the appearance of being nurturing, intuitive, and talkative; and related correlates. It is useful also to note that “‘Feminine’ qualities such as weakness and dependency are frequently eroticized” (Cameron & Kulick, 2003, p. 49), whether they are possessed by women or by men.
I was also on two elite dating apps: The League and Raya. Both require applications before joining. The League uses your LinkedIn profile for information like education and job position for membership. Raya, an exclusive dating app for creatives and celebrities, is the most difficult to join and refers on Instagram and connections in your contact list.
It’s important to be upfront about what you’re looking for online. If you’re interested in something casual, free sites that require less information to sign up could work perfectly. It’s probably not worth paying for a membership if you’re not looking for anything long term and are willing to risk going on a couple of potentially bad dates. If marriage is what you’re after, then you might have better luck on paid sites that pair you with people who have the same priorities.
Dating profiles give us a view of identity construction and presentation in a context of self-promotion and self-revelation. For the purposes of this analysis, identity is not viewed as a monolithic category, something static that is developed and reaches a fixed, recognizable point of “completeness.” Schouten (1991; cited in Yurchisin et al., 2005, p. 736) defines identity as “the cognitive and affective understanding of who and what we are.” This sense of self, of being, changes and develops over time, in a reflexive process that is influenced by the person’s social and cultural surrounds. Internet communication as social interaction becomes a part of users’ identity-building practices, and as Internet use and access becomes more widespread, these practices of mediation and negotiation are recognized as playing an increasingly important role in our social and psychological lives (Turkle, 1995).
Profiles created by real humans also have the potential to be problematic. For example, online dating sites may expose more female members in particular to stalking, fraud, and sexual violence by online predators. A less malicious form of misrepresentation is that members may lie about their height, weight, age, or marital status in an attempt to market or brand themselves in a particular way. Users may also carefully manipulate profiles as a form of impression management. Online daters have raised concerns about ghosting, the practice of ceasing all communication with a person without explaining why. Ghosting appears to be becoming more common. Various explanations have been suggested, but social media is often blamed, as are dating apps and the relative anonymity and isolation in modern-day dating and hookup culture, which make it easier to behave poorly with few social repercussions.