Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Mass Communication and Media Arts

First Advisor

Lawrence, Novotny

Second Advisor

Veenstra, Aaron


The increased use of online dating sites has further encouraged corporations’ attempts to capitalize on these mate-seeking trends., eHarmony, and OkCupid are primary competitors in a growing market of individuals seeking out potential romantic partners. They offer several mainstream dating options as well as niche-dating sites. Similar to society at large where dating still occurs offline, scholars have revealed that racial hierarchies exist within various online platforms. As such, the roles of gender and ethnicity in online dating environments merit study. Specifically, the experiences of Black women who use Internet dating sites, a virtually unexplored demographic, form the basis of this dissertation. This study consisted of 16 interviews and a demographic survey, which were used to examine Black women’s online dating experiences from their perspectives to determine whether or not online dating sites are productive, love-seeking spaces. Data analysis was conducted utilizing a Google Form survey to collect demographic data and NVivo 11 qualitative software to help generate themes that guided analysis. Themes that emerged included: negative and positive perceptions from men; physical and non-physical attributes participants possessed that men found attractive; whether or not men’s perceptions impacted interview participants’ success or failure in online dating, and whether or not participants viewed their online dating experiences to be in line with those of other Black women. Participants discussed how perceptions from men online influenced their racially-gendered online dating experience.




This dissertation is Open Access and may be downloaded by anyone.