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Minnesota State University, Mankato
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Romantic relationships class explores online dating world

Online dating highlights couples' priorities, professor says.

By Neil Musolf, Free Press Correspondent [published in The Free Press, Mankato, MN, 11/4/2011]

Once upon a time, the majority of people met their life partner in somewhat conventional ways. Maybe at church, school or on the job. A few more avant-garde types might have taken out an ad in the personals seeking Mr. or Ms. Right.

Well, times have definitely changed. According to Daniel Moen, an assistant professor in the department of family and consumer science at Minnesota State Mankato, many people of all ages are meeting each other online.

“Online dating has seen an increase in popularity,” Moen said. “In 2006, there were 16 million online daters, and of those, 3 million became long-term relationships.”

Moen teaches a class called “Romantic Relationships,” where he explores the online dating phenomenon along with other romantic topics. His students do a lot of role-playing where they try to solve relationship problems.

Moen said in spite of a trend by young people who don’t see marriage as an important part of life, 90 percent of Americans will eventually marry. He believes there’s a big need for people to understand what goes into a making a relationship healthy so that those marriages will have a better chance of lasting.

Online dating has changed romantic relationships in a few key ways. There is now a much larger dating pool, and that people have the opportunity for long-distance relationships with someone they’ve never actually met face to face.

“Men tend to misrepresent themselves when it comes to how tall they are and what their economic status is,” Moen said. “Women don’t always tell the truth about their weight and their age. What it comes down to is that people are trying to attract the best mate as a date.”

Moen also said that women are more selective than men when it comes to online dating, and that men average more contacts per day than women. Similarity helps with online dating, too. People with the same ethnic backgrounds, religion, smoking and drinking habits, and number of marriages seem to be attracted to one another. Looks still count online, with people who are considered more physically attractive receiving more date requests than people who might be considered less attractive.

Read the complete Free Press story in the Nov. 4 print edition, or go to the e-edition at

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