This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

Swiped off my feet: Exploring differences related to relationship initiation




O'Neil, Katherine

Type of Degree

PhD Dissertation


Special Education, Rehabilitation, Counseling

Restriction Status


Restriction Type


Date Available



An increasing number of people are going on dates and forming relationships after meeting through a mobile app or online dating site. Although stigma towards the use of these services is likely decreasing, negative perceptions persist that people who use online and mobile dating services are “desperate,” only use the services to meet sexual partners, or deceive others by posting inaccurate content or photoshopped pictures. In a pilot study (N =198), I found participants viewed meeting a romantic partner through a mobile dating service as more embarrassing than meeting someone through an online dating service and both types of dating services were viewed as more embarrassing than meeting a romantic partner in person. The main study explored differences in the amount of relationship satisfaction, trust, social support, relationship initiation outness (willingness to disclose how partners met), and shame participants reported as a function of whether they met their partner in person (n = 104), through an online dating site (n = 99), or via a mobile app (n = 106). A total of 309 participants recruited from Amazon Mechanical Turk completed the Dyadic Trust Scale, Network Support Index, modified versions of the Outness Inventory and the Other As Shamer Scale, the Relationship Assessment Scale, and a demographic questionnaire. Participants who met through an online or mobile dating service were significantly less out about how they met their partner than those who met their partner face-to-face. No significant differences in relationship satisfaction, relational trust, social support, or shame were found between the three ways of meeting someone. Limitations, implications for practice, and directions for future research are discussed.