Love Interfaces: Identity and Attachment in Online Dating

Manel Mula Ferrer



This article explores the processes of identity definition and attachment creation in online dating platforms. Built on my own experience as a user since 2010, my essay is shaped as an autoethnographic theoretical enquiry into the relations between online dating and broader concepts related to the economic and affective spheres of late capitalism. My thesis is that online dating websites operate from the identification of heteronormative homogamic intimacy with the good life and that, as such, they often reproduce offline structural inequalities. Online dating software attempts to recapture the indeterminacy of desire through their interfaces, forcing a process of identity stabilisation validated by the profile photo onto its users, while exposing them to a space prone to relationality. At the same time, the process imbues one’s identity with a sense of validation, appealing to the naturalisation of mediated self-disclosure as exemplified by entertainment formats typical from late capitalism, such as Reality-TV. At the same time, attachment is represented by matches, which reduce the polyvocality associated with desire and equate it to homogamic intimacy while minimising any destabilising factors such as rejection through their design.

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