Running head: Online Dating and Sexual Timing
ONLINE DATING AND SEXUAL TIMING
Venicio Antonio de Leon
Harvard Extension School
Psychology of Close Relationships
Does Online Dating Lead to Couples Initiating Sexual Actions Earlier?
Our society today seems to have moved on from association online dating as something shamed under a blanket of negative stigma. In fact, a national survey found that in 2015, 5% of couples met online first (Pew Research Center, 2015). While the dynamics of how dating today has been revolutionized by the advent of online dating, Paul (2014) found that couples who met online were more likely to breakup than couples who meet offline. Fortunately, a number of studies have identified certain variables as having strong correlates that help us understand why some relationships flourish more than others—and why some are doomed more than others. For example, we now know that the earlier a couple initiates sexual activities after dating, the worse it is for their chances of experiencing better relationship promoting behavior and outcomes during both the coupling process and in committed relationships (Busby, Carroll, & Willoughby, 2010, 2014). Wu and Chiou (2009) studied implications of how online dating leads its users to have more options as potential romantic partners, and they found that more options actually lead to an increased likelihood of indecision and poorer decisions with selecting romantic partners. And while Wu and Chiou’s (2009) findings give us one explanation in understanding why Paul (2014) finds couples who date online to have an increased likelihood of separating, no study has looked into whether online dating leads couples to initiate sexual actions earlier—something we know is strongly correlated with worse relationship outcomes (Busby, Carroll, & Willoughby, 2010, 2014).
The goal of this research is to try and isolate factors that give us more understanding in why online dating leads couples to have more chances of breaking up (Paul, 2014). By looking into online dating’s unique nature of instantly enabling an individual to communicate with a multitude of potential mates through the application’s shelter of online privacy, unlike a face-to-face interaction, it seems viable to assume that such an environment can cause a significant amount of users to engage more openly and be more rapid in tactically engaging their potential mates with expressing their emotions—sexual desires and all. And by taking Wu and Chiou’s (2009) findings that correlate increased online dating options with an increased likelihood of making poor romantic partner choices with the idea that these poor romantic decisions are being done in an environment filled with people continuously vying for each other’s hearts and bodies, while improving more and more after every rejection, suggest that the poor choices that daters make are not limited in the choice of who they chose to be their romantic partners, but also of...