Online Love – Final Paper

June 20, 2009

Elena Martinez
Comm 309
Final Paper
Online Love

Dear Colleague,
Perhaps you were watching TV before you opened up this letter. If so, you certainly were exposed to at least a few (and more than likely, many) advertisements. Some of these were probably promoting websites. And some of these websites were probably dating services. Online dating and romance are very new phenomena in the history of interpersonal relationships. The advent of online attraction and love have led many to question the differences, if any, between online and offline or “real-life” love. After reviewing current scholarly research on the topics of online love and attraction, I’ve come to the conclusion that it is easier to fall in love online than offline.

There are many arguments that surround online dating and romance. Many wonder if relationships made and maintained online can truly “stand up” to similar relationships offline. Questions surround the validity of such relationships as well as the identities of those involved. After all, can love truly exist between two people who may have never met in person and thus never seen or known their “real” mate? However, those who feel online communication to be an optimum or at least helpful tool in romantic interpersonal communication point to its unifying aspects. Due to online romance’s ability to facilitate seemingly more open and connected communications between daters, users tend to find it easier to fall in love online than offline.

One of the most prominent arguments against the deep connections and feelings of trust between internet daters is that because individuals can practice impression management and create or edit their identities, the experience is an inorganic or false one. Further, many wonder how anyone could truly fall in love with and trust one whose communication messages cannot necessarily be verified by sight, sound or experience. Without physical validation, how can trust, and then love, ever truly be established?

If you’re unfamiliar with, or skeptical of internet dating interactions, you may first have questions of online identities. People dating in “real-life” dating situations are often plagued with “trust issues.” Naturally, one may wonder how people could possible begin a romantic relationship with a stranger whose very identity cannot be confirmed by anything but that person’s word. It is true that one of the appealing things about online interactions is the ability to carefully practice “impression management,” defined by Thurlow, Lengel, and Tomic (2007) as “forming impressions of others and trying constantly to influence their perceptions of us” (p. 52). Online, one can say (or not say) anything about themselves to attract another romantically.

Surely, you’ve seen a television show or movie that humorously portrays someone meeting up with an online love interest who turns out to be much different than they described. However, scholarship on the subject shows that this is not an experience that online daters necessarily regularly have. Also, lying or deception is simply part of the dating landscape, whether or not the deception is online or offline. According to Ellison, Heino, & Gibbs (2006), “Public perceptions about the higher incidence of deception online are also contradicted by research that suggests that lying is a typical occurrence in everyday offline life, including situations in which people are trying to impress prospective dates” (p. 420). Just as offline, people online must consider the consequences of their actions when entering into an interpersonal relationship. Hardey (2004) discusses the descriptions that online daters give of themselves. He explains:
Such descriptions are shaped by the knowledge that success in making dating contact would involve a meeting offline. This means that to embellish or lie about appearance or other characteristics could lead to the collapse of any potential relationship that has been entered into online. (Hardey, 2004, p. 211)
Because it is in the online dater’s own best interest to be honest if they truly are pursuing a successful romantic relationship, it is most likely they will portray themselves at least as accurately as they would in a real life encounter. Hardey (2004) quotes Ross, a respondent who illustrates this tendency:
I could write that George Clooney was me! Trouble is I don’t come near to him and there would be no point as it would be impossible to keep the story up once I got into contact with a girl. If I want to play games like that I use chat rooms. . . . At DateNet, I hope to meet for real and the embarrassment of a false image would be impossible to cope with! (p. 211)
So, you can see that many people’s concerns about mass identity fraud in online dating communication are truly unfounded.

Now that we’ve seen that online dating and interpersonal communication are not necessarily inferior to, or more risky than their offline counterparts, you may still wonder how any of this shows that it is actually easier to fall in love online. Well, clearly if, as we’ve show above, establishing trust and open communication is faster and easier online than offline, then the potential for falling in love is also easier. After all, trust and communication are widely understood to be important contributing factors to falling in love.
Studies have shown that online romantic interpersonal communication can actually foster levels of trust and interconnectedness that can in fact happen much faster and easier than in offline romantic communication. According to Pauley & Emmers-Sommer (2007), “The nature of online relationships may increase self-disclosure and promote tactics that reduce relational uncertainty” (p. 413). When two people are communicating without the dangers of embarrassment or disapproval that they could meet in a face-to-face situation, many find themselves disclosing much more than they normally would in the early stages of dating. Getting these disclosures out of the way early saves daters the trouble of slowly sorting through and dispensing their undesirables.

An important part of these early and more detailed disclosures is what exactly the daters find out about one another. Often, if the daters discover commonalities, their relationship will make it to the next level much more easily. These commonalities are especially fostered in online relationships as online communication focuses most on shared interests and similarities. According to Avivi, Laurenceau, & Carver (2009), “Empirical evidence indicates that similarities between relationship partners in values and interests (which often determine goals) relate to relationship stability” (p. 139). These similarities found and nurtured online ensure that the path toward love is a little smoother for the online romantic relationship.
Not only may online daters have more in common, disclose more, and disclose more quickly, they tend to maintain a level of more communication overall. Sidelinger, Ayash, Godorhazy, & Tibbles (2008) show that even those in offline relationships may turn to the internet to increase their communication levels, and therefore solidify their relationships:
Given commitment levels fluctuate based on developments in romantic relationships, and because Internet use is increasing and romantic couples may talk online for almost 15 hours per week, couples in romantic relationships may turn to the Internet to help increase commitment. (p. 344)
Having a high incidence of communication, especially open and honest communication, is well-known to strengthen romantic bonds and increase intimacy. If communication is the key to love, then online daters are already a step ahead.

Online love is very real, and you’re beginning to see it capitalized upon more and more because of the medium’s ability to bring people together and keep them together. Due to online communication’s ability to encourage open communication, honesty, shared interests, and full disclosures, those seeking love find it just a bit more easily online. Computers are thought by many to be cold, hard machines, powered by nothing but logic and reason. The truth is however, that these machines are powered by people who most of all simply seek connections with others. The internet and online communication, two of technology’s greatest advancements, have proven to be facilitators of humanity’s greatest aspiration: love.


Elena Martinez


Who am I? messy room…

May 3, 2009

Who am I?

April 29, 2009

Hmmm… Who am I? Well, I tend to be waaay too wordy, I’m sure even more so when asked to describe something as egotistically delicious as myself.  So instead, I’ll try to cut it down to basics….

I guess I’m a little:

3416389594_91283d54e11(Well, dude-ette – and yup thats right, the old-school turtles!  Before this new generation put ’em on steroids.)

with some nerdiness thrown in, becaue I  love to read:


and write:


My past-times include beating boys at basketball,


listening to good music,










and spending too much time and money at:








Finally, I’m really into history.  Yeah, stuff like this:







I even collect ancient coins (yes I know there’s no possible way to get nerdier).  I have one of these:






and really want one of these:







Oh and though I’m very happy here in Cali, I’ll always love my hometown:

chicago_skyline_night1(Chi-Town, Baby!)