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What Happened to Going to A Bar?: Sociological Theory and the Risk of Online Dating

Lindsay Smith
Ohio Northern University

Online dating is a growing social phenomenon that has evolved from a controversial practice to a relatively accepted method of seeking a significant other. Online dating typically consists of individuals subscribing to a chosen website designed to facilitate relationship establishment, creating a profile, and then actively seeking other participants with the traits they desire in a mate. The process can be complex, and those who are involved are at risk of being deceived by dating prospects. As individuals create their profile, they make a choice of whether they want to portray their actual self or their ideal self. It is up to the other participants with whom they communicate to determine if they are being honest or not, and weigh the importance of this information. With this known risk, individuals still find the motivation to participate in online dating. The purpose here is to understand these motivations from a sociological perspective, and in doing this, Cooley and Durkheim are being applied. Cooley is relevant to the distinction between the ideal and actual self, and how our connection to groups relates to online dating, while Durkheim is applied to the dynamics of the online dating community as a whole, specifically what keeps people involved in this behavior.  Additionally, these concepts aid in describing the structure of the online dating society itself.

North Central Sociological Association Conference, Chicago, IL