Sounds familiar: People on online dating sites are experiencing frustration because it does seem that the internet in many ways is just the same old bar scene. This is one of the findings of research by anthropologist Susan E. Frohlick. She is conducting an ethnographic study of online dating among women age thirty and above.
She says the women on the one hand gained a sense of empowerment from their online dating experiences. But they still wanted the man to make the first move and expected him pick up the tab:
Women are finding it as a useful tool to enter into the dating world, they find that it’s safe, they find that they can be a little more bold than they would in face-to-face relationships. But, at the same time, they are experiencing frustration because it does seem that the internet in many ways is just the same old bar scene.
Complaints include a preponderance of men who are looking for much younger women, as well as men who misrepresent their looks, interests or marital status, or who show little interest in moving the relationship offline, she said.
Furthermore, women are hesitant to admit that they meet men through the Internet.
One of the most striking findings so far is that there’s a huge contradiction between what women say about the popularity of online dating sites on the one hand and, on the other hand, their own sense of almost shame, and certainly secrecy about it. They talk about how it’s for losers.
Frohlick says she hopes the study will shed more light on how the online dating world might be changing women’s sexuality. She would like to find more study participants from across Canada, including women who are looking for same-sex partners.
She is part of the project “Surfing for Love” at the University of Manitoba. The study will be completed in May, 2008, and a summary of the results will be posted online, she writes on her homepage.