Document Type


Date of Degree

Fall 2010

Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In

Communication Studies

First Advisor

Fitch, Kristine

First Committee Member

Hingstman, David

Second Committee Member

McLeod, Kembrew

Third Committee Member

Gronbeck, Bruce

Fourth Committee Member

Lawrence, Erika


While more and more people choose to give online dating a try and the representations of online dating in popular culture are increasing, a stigma associated with the act of going online to find love still lingers. The purpose of this dissertation is to look at people who use online dating services in order to explore how this group of people makes meaning from their experience with online dating, particularly how they negotiate the stigma of online dating. Using Goffman's theories on self-presentation and stigma, 200 recent posts to a website called were inductively analyzed in order to answer two questions: (1) what rules for e-dating are present in the discourse on eDateReview, and (2) how do posters to the site engage issues of stigma in online dating? Analysis found five prominent guidelines for online dating emerged: (1) be honest in your presentation of self; (2) be honest with yourself about your successes and/or failures; (3) to be successful you have to put in the effort; (4) keep an open mind; (5) accept your own limitations. In regard to online daters' approach to stigma, the ideas that stigma is cumulative, there is a hierarchy at work when managing stigmas, and a general language of distrust towards online dating emerged. Findings indicate that an increased use of technology is changing how people find and manage personal relationships. These changes are met with both skepticism and distrust creating a need for online daters to redefine through discourse what it means to be an online dater. Through the discourse on online daters attempt to reaffirm a positive identity for themselves that they can present to others in order to maintain a consistent self image in light of the stigma associated with online dating.


v, 85 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 80-85).


Copyright 2010 Shana Kopaczewski

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Communication Commons