Language of dating

It is important to note that evolutionary theory provides an explanatory framework for understanding patterns of human mate choice and the preferred characteristics in a potential partner from the point of view of reproduction (Dunbar et al 2007: 91).

However our study is not strictly comparable, because we focus on people over 50 years of age, therefore reproduction may not be on their minds, even subconsciously, when they decide to place an online dating advertisement.

The number of online dating classified ads have grown rapidly in recent years.

As Fiore (2004: 13) describes, they “have shed their stigma as matchmakers for the awkward to claim a prominent role in the social lives of millions of people”, and “the base of users spans generations, breaking the 20- or 30-something age ceiling common in many online social environments”.

Researchers have studied online relationships mainly from psychological and sociological perspectives (Van Gelder 1985; Lea & Spears 1995; Scharlott & Christ 1995; Walther 1996; Daneback 2006; Valkenburg & Jochen 2007; etc.), and predominantly among younger people.

The methodology employed in these previous studies is usually interview-based.

In contrast, women’s preferences in order were: commitment, social skills, resources, attractiveness and sexiness.In our data, all five of Pawłowski and Dunbar’s categories appear as statistically significant key semantic domains, and we find other statistically significant categories.Being happy, energetic and enjoying life appear at the top of our list.Academic research into the language of online dating ads is still scarce.In Computer-Mediated Communication research, previous analysis of personal pronoun usage (Sherblom 1990; Witt 2004; Walther 2007) has been reported.

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Table 1 exemplifies the traits associated with these categories, based on the investigations conducted by Dunbar and his colleagues.

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