Modeling the Romantic Love of Dating Service Participants

Speed dating services have become very popular, in part, due to the availability of internet use. The purpose of this study is to investigate the “processes of romantic relationships” of the participants of speed dating services, including the yearning process, the searching process, the choosing process, and the settling process; trying to understand what actually happened in each of these processes and what emotions have been elicited. Based on the above directions, three research goals are then set for this study:

  1. to understand the phenomena experienced by participants of speed dating services during the  pursuit for love,
  2. to probe into the mental state of participants of speed dating services, and
  3. to understand the coping techniques of the participants when the need for love is not fulfilled or when they are faced with a setback in the pursuit for love.

The methodology of this study is the narrative inquiry of qualitative research. In order to interpret the phenomena of speed dating services participants’ pursuit for love, the data analysis method of social anthropology is applied in this study. Four singles, two male and two female, who have attended speed dating services for more than five times, were chosen as subjects of this study.

Some common phenomena are found in the narratives of the subjects:

  • they are all influenced by the “first impression,”
  • they are all involved in the “compare-compete-comment” cycle,
  • they all more or less try to flatter the other in the interaction with an opposite sex, and
  • they all developed some sort of defense mechanism for self-protection.

In addition, through transaction analysis the influence of ego state on the development of an intimate relationship can be observed.

In the inquiry of the “processes of romantic relationships” of speed dating service participants, the study interprets the phenomena in the narratives through the dialogue between the stories told and the theories:

  1. Subjects all show the social exchange of “marriage market theory.”
  2. In choosing a candidate for a romantic relationship, all subjects show the “primary effect” of the attraction theory and all consider “personal characteristics” as important, which corresponds with the similarity, complementarity, and “you like me, I like you, you like me more” spiral laws of the attraction theory.
  3. All subjects seem to have a set of internal criteria for selecting the best candidate for marriage. He/she has to match the “stimulus-value-role” conditions before being considered for further dating.
  4. All subjects correspond with the theory of symbolic interaction – absorbing and interpreting the symbols and messages sent by the other before making the next move.
  5. All subjects correspond with the “anxiety/uncertainty management,” developing hence strategies and methods to decrease anxiety.
  6. Subjects seem to attribute an unsuccessful romantic relationship to fate.

The differences among speed dating service participants are: different expectations, discrepancy in socialization, variation in the depth of conversation, difference in degree of intimacy, and different dating functions and dating needs.

Keywords﹕dating service, heterosexual, choosing a life partner, romantic love, narrative research