Date of Conferral
The Internet has become the one of the most used ways for individuals of both sexes to meet potential mates. The purpose of the grounded theory study was to gain an understanding of the stages of development of an online romantic relationship and the motivations that impact the progression and the maintenance of relationships through asking individuals who have experienced the phenomenon about their experiences. Social penetration model, social learning theory, and the stimulus- role-value theory guided the study. Four samples of convenience were used to obtain the 20 participants, including the Walden University participant pool, 2 local universities, Match.com and Facebook. Through reviewed literature, the researcher designed the survey and interview questions. The first area explored was how online romantic relationships developed including consideration of motives, perceptions, mate selection, language, and self-expression. The other area explored how online romantic relationships were maintained, including an exploration about gender differences, differences between face-to-face and Internet relationships, and difficulties encountered. Data was placed into the NIVIVO computer software and was analyzed by the researcher. Three themes were discovered from the data including finding potential partners, communication, and maintenance. This study benefits the scientific community in providing information to further develop theories in the literature about how the internet has impacted romantic relationships. It also benefits both the individuals who use the internet to find partners and individuals who want to create new Internet dating tools that are better designed for the needs of the users. This could potentially improve the quality of life for those who are seeking life partners.