Mobile Dating: A Fancy Way to Fall in Love?

Mobile Dating: A Fancy Way to Fall in Love?

Lu Sun (Communication University of China, China)
Copyright: © 2019 |Pages: 17
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-7885-7.ch004
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In addressing the question as to whether mobile dating is a fancy way to fall in love, the author of this chapter ignited further interest in examining the issue by reviewing up-to-date studies on mobile dating, examining mobile dating applications and individual users' motivations at different stages of mobile dating. Furthermore, the author also included LGBTQ studies in her investigation. Finally, the author identified various problems related to mobile dating that invite further examination and solutions.
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Mobile dating, also known as cell phone dating, enables people to chat, flirt, meet, hook-up and probably start potential romantic relationships by using text messaging, voice calling, video chatting, and the Internet. Mobile dating applications (MDAs) are designed to make interactions easier for mobile dating based on mobile devices, especially for smart phone users. The concept of “mobile dating” stems from “online dating” which is different from conventional face-to-face offline dating and refers to the practice of using dating websites or mobile devices for the purpose of finding potential partners. Online dating has been developed for several decades since websites are prevalent in daily life. Toma (2015) described the mechanism of online dating: dating websites operate by requesting users to compose self-descriptive profiles and then connecting them with databases of potential partners. Several factors facilitate the booming of online dating. In fact, social and commercial institutions that facilitate courtship and marriage are diverse and long-standing (Ahuvia & Adelman, 1992). Matchmaking and introductory intermediaries, especially for facilitating marriage, play a role in the marriage-courtship market long before the beginning of online dating. Furthermore, computer-mediated communication (CMC) has been used for romantic matching for over 60 years (Finkel et al., 2012). Thanks to the development of technology, video-dating emerged in the 1980s, which was popular at that time for mate seeking and encouraged users to provide profile descriptions and photographs and participate in a video-based chat (Ahuvia & Adelman, 1992; Woll & Cozby, 1987).

Meanwhile, “cyber love”, an emerging fancy word, was regarded as as “a romantic relationship consisting mainly of CMC” (Ben-Ze’ev, 2004, p. 4). Li and Chen (2005) made it more clearly by classifying cyber love into two main categories. (1) Cyber love I-a: romantic relationships developing mainly through the Internet, but the people involved had actually met each other face-to-face before; Cyber love I-b: relationships in which two people meet each other online and later form offline romantic relationships; (2) Cyber love II: two people form an online romantic relationship and do not meet face-to-face.

“Online dating” has been described “as an adventure” (Lawson and Leck, 2006, p. 197). They viewed online dating as a gambling activity where users are supposed to take risks on the premise of social exchange theories. As social interaction is an exchange process, individuals should balance costs and rewards to obtain profit to the most. In this case, risks are one of the costs in online dating, they indicated (Lawson and Leck, 2006).

Finkel et al. (2012) did a comprehensive study on online dating from the perspective of psychological science. They asserted that online dating is drastically different from traditional offline dating and it is hard to say whether online dating promotes better romantic outcomes than conventional offline dating. Accessing, communication and matching are three main services online dating offered (Ahuvia & Adelman, 1992; Finkel et al., 2012).

(1) Access to a potential partner who is exposure to the same platform. (2) Communication with various forms of CMC to interact with specific potential partners through the dating site before meeting face-to-face. (3) Matching by the use of a mathematical algorithm to select compatible partners for users. (Finkel et al., 2012, p. 3)

Although online dating has some similar characteristics with mobile dating, the use of mobile devices makes mobile dating more convenient and technical. Individuals’ daily life is entangled with digital media, especially mobile devices (Goggin, 2006), and this involved into to sexual acts and intimate relationships (Light, 2014). With the proliferation of smart phones, individuals prefer mobiles over PCs in recent years when dating online. Because it is more convenient to use a portable smart phone all day and wherever you like. According to ASDF survey, young generations prefer mobile dating apps to matrimonial sites (Diary, 2018). By incorporating user's real-time location and intelligently connecting to social networks, mobile dating systems could give more appropriate options due to the potential partner's proximity, interests, priorities.

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