‘I am Busy Independent Woman Who has Sense of Humor, Caring about Others’: Older Adults’ Self- representations in Online Dating Profiles

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Scholarly level: 
Faculty/Staff
Final version published as: 

Wada, M.; Hurd Clarke, L.; Mortenson, W. B.. (2017). ‘I am busy independent woman who has sense of humor, caring about others’: Older adults’ self-representations in online dating profiles. Ageing and Society, 1-26. doi:10.1017/S0144686X17001325

Date created: 
2017-12
Identifier: 
DOI: 10.1017/S0144686X17001325
Keywords: 
Ageing
Dating
Attitudes
Perceptions
Gender
Race/ethnicity
Thematic analysis
Abstract: 

Similar to their younger counterparts, older adults (age +) are increasingly turning to online dating sites to find potential romantic and sexual partners. In this paper, we draw upon qualitative data from a thematic analysis of  randomly selected online dating profiles posted by Canadian heterosexual older adults who self-identified as Asian, Black, Caucasian or Native American. In particular, we exam-ined how the older adults’ self-presentations varied according to race/ethnicity, age and gender, and how the language they used to describe themselves and their preferred potential partners reflected and reinforced idealised images of ageing. Our analysis identified five primary ways in which the older adults portrayed them-selves. They depicted themselves as active and busy with cultural/artistic, social and adventurous activities; and also as physically healthy and intellectually engaged. Third, they emphasised the ways in which they were productive through work and vol-unteer activities. Fourth, they accentuated their positive approach to life, identifying themselves as happy, fun-loving and humorous individuals. Finally, they highlighted their personable characteristics, portraying themselves as trustworthy and caring. We discuss our findings with a particular focus on gender differences, drawing on lit-erature on masculinity and femininity, and also look at capital and power relations by considering the online dating setting as a field in the Bourdieusian sense.

Language: 
English
Document type: 
Article
Rights: 
Rights remain with the authors.
File(s): 
Sponsor(s): 
Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC)
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