“It’s Gone from More of Convenience to Necessity at This Point” Exploring Online Dating Use in the UK during the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Thematic Analysis

DEAN MARSHALL, Nikki, PARTRIDGE, Benjamin John, MASON, Jade, PURBA, Chanda, SIAN, Amanda, TANNER, Jessica and MARTIN, Rosie (2023). “It’s Gone from More of Convenience to Necessity at This Point” Exploring Online Dating Use in the UK during the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Thematic Analysis. Social Sciences, 12 (10): 567.

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Official URL: https://www.mdpi.com/2076-0760/12/10/567
Open Access URL: https://www.mdpi.com/2076-0760/12/10/567/pdf?versi... (Published version)
Link to published version:: https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci12100567


There were reported increases in negative emotions such as boredom and loneliness during lockdown; simultaneously, there was a notable increase in new users and activity on online dating platforms (ODPs). While motivations for using ODPs vary widely, there is limited understanding for users’ motivations to engage with ODPs in a time when restrictions were in place. To explore users’ motivations and the impact COVID-19 had on their online dating experiences during the pandemic semi-structured interviews (N = 12) were conducted in the UK during December 2020–July 2021. Data were analysed using reflexive thematic analysis. Motivations for using ODPs during the pandemic included addressing negative emotions such as loneliness, but, crucially, they became a necessity for meeting new people and making romantic and non-romantic connections in a time of social isolation. Lockdowns had negative effects on creating and sustaining online connections; however, where online connections were made, lockdowns restricted contact through social distancing and tier systems, limiting the ability to progress a relationship by moving it offline. Online interactions provided a relationship building foundation; however, there was ultimately a need to move the interaction offline in order for the relationship to develop. Findings related to motivations fit with prior literature; however, there was a shift in priorities, with importance being placed on online spaces to meet social needs that were limited due to the pandemic. ODPs were important for society, they provided a space for connection and socialising, which was vital in helping people navigate the solitude of lockdown.

Item Type: Article
Editor - Winder, Belinda
Additional Information: ** Article version: VoR ** From MDPI via Jisc Publications Router ** Licence for VoR version of this article: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/ ** Peer reviewed: TRUE **Journal IDs: eissn 2076-0760 **Article IDs: publisher-id: socsci-12-00567 **History: published_online 11-10-2023; collection 10-2023; accepted 28-09-2023; rev-recd 27-09-2023; submitted 07-08-2023
Uncontrolled Keywords: relationship building, online dating platforms (ODPs), lockdown effects, motivations, pandemic, online dating
Identification Number: https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci12100567
SWORD Depositor: Colin Knott
Depositing User: Colin Knott
Date Deposited: 07 Nov 2023 16:56
Last Modified: 07 Nov 2023 17:00
URI: https://shura.shu.ac.uk/id/eprint/32643

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