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Online Dating and Conjugal Bereavement
ARTICLE

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Death Studies Volume 34, Number 7, ISSN 0748-1187

Abstract

This study examined self-presentation in the online dating profiles of 241 widowed and 280 divorced individuals between 18 and 40 years old. A content analysis of open-ended user-generated profiles assessed the presence or absence of various themes, including the user's marital status, the backstory of their lost relationship, and whether they engaged in sense-making regarding that lost relationship. Results indicated that about one-third of widowed individuals discussed their loss in their profiles. In addition, about one-third of the widowed profiles included explicit reference to a philosophy of life, and about 16% mentioned sense-making or cognitive reappraisals of their bereavement. Many profiles included some articulation of a vision of a future partnership. Results also revealed a significant correlation between widowed individuals including a backstory and their likelihood of exhibiting sense-making in their profiles. Finally, unlike the widowed users, divorcees provided much briefer mentions of their lost relationships, used less sense-making language, and were less likely to articulate an explicit vision of future partnerships. Overall, the results suggest that for widowed individuals, online dating sites may function as venues to explore their past experiences and engage in the construction of a post-loss identity or a post-loss "ideal self." (Contains 5 tables.)

Citation

Young, D.G. & Caplan, S.E. (2010). Online Dating and Conjugal Bereavement. Death Studies, 34(7), 575-605. Retrieved June 25, 2022 from .

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