Turkey, Life

Jury out on whether Turks like offline vs online dating

Research shows changing attitudes toward online dating in country, where most relationships start face-to-face

Selçuk Uysal   | 17.08.2019
Jury out on whether Turks like offline vs online dating


Turkish people hold a negative view about online dating, a recently released study revealed. 

The study was conducted by Dilsah Ece Eren and Selenga Gurmen at Istanbul’s Ozyegin University. Titled “Comparison of online vs. offline dating in terms of romantic beliefs, commitment, relationship maintenance behaviors and relationship satisfaction”, it surveyed people who use and do not use online dating apps in Turkey.

It found that 60% of those surveyed between the ages of 18 and 50 used online dating apps, 30% of which said such apps are better platforms for meeting someone new. 

Since there are few studies that have compared relationships that started face-to-face and on online platforms, this study could be considered the first to investigate people's experiences in terms of relationships that started online in Turkey.

Despite the apparent popularity of online dating apps in Turkey, the study revealed that views and attitudes in the country toward online dating are negative overall. However, they said there are no previous studies that compared people’s experiences with online relationships and ones that started face-to-face in Turkey. 

The data in the study showed that 276 participants started their relationships offline (face-to-face) and 270 others started through online dating apps and social media. In the research, the participants were mostly at least university graduates.

Nearly half of the participants’ parents have university degrees. Some 165 participants met through social media sites (mainly Twitter and Instagram) and 95 met through online dating apps (mostly Tinder).

“As a result, the present study failed to find a difference between those groups,” they said, explaining that the bigger number of people using the Internet does not mean online dating is increasing.

The only striking difference was found in terms of romantic beliefs between online daters and non-daters: the higher the romantic expectations a person has, the more superficial they find online dating, said Eren and Gurmen.

The research showed that people who prefer online dating are more educated and have full-time jobs. On the other hand, it emphasized that another study showed that online daters tend to stick to casual relationships rather than move on to marriage. Still, further studies are needed to understand this phenomenon.

Eren and Gurmen stressed that Turkey can be considered a traditional country. It is a non-Western country but also has modernized aspects that are similar to the West. Moreover, cultural diversity is increasing in Turkey, and it is not possible to talk about prototypical cultural features. Furthermore, rapid social and cultural transformations are taking place, and this leads to overall changes in lifestyles. 

The study underlined that culture is an important way of experiencing a relationship in general. Romantic love is favored more in industrialized and technologically developed countries, but Turkish culture has been undergoing a rapid transformation due to urbanization and an increase in education levels for the last 20 years. Besides relationship-related changes, the purposes of Internet use have also changed in Turkey over time. 

Turkey, along with Germany, has the highest number of Internet users in Europe. Data from the Turkish Statistical Institute (TurkStat) showed that in 2016, at least 84% of people in Turkey used the Internet.

In connection with the prevalence of Internet usage, another study found that 60% of those surveyed between the ages of 18 and 54 had started to engage in online dating, but only 30% of them saw this experience as a good way to meet new people.

However, the research said negative attitudes toward online dating exist in Turkey, especially in terms of long-term relationship possibilities. Therefore, there is still no clear picture depicting how these online relationships are experienced. 

Eren and Gurmen referred to another study which showed that males are more motivated to use online dating apps. But the study found no gender differences in terms of online versus offline relationships. 

"It was found that 82.4% of Internet users used social media in order to create profiles, share photos or content and instant messages. Three percent of people met their spouses online. In recent years, this percentage may have increased,’’ they said. 

"However, there is no current data in order to understand the changing panorama. In addition to this, there is no data to investigate what is going on in terms of dating relationship experiences."  

Among those surveyed for the study, 100% of young adults have a smartphone and 93% of them are using social media, yet only 26% of participants online said they would consider marrying someone through online dating. 

Turkey and its high Internet usage did not contribute to developing positive attitudes toward online dating. Turkish culture can be helpful to understand the results of the study. 

Referring to TurkStat data, it is stated that marriage among young adults between the ages of 15 and 29 has decreased.  

“It can be stated that there is a change in Turkey in terms of the relationship experience in general regardless of the online versus offline context,” they said. 

However, "high Internet usage may lead to normalization of online dating", they said, adding "non-traditional ways” of meeting new people might be on the rise in Turkey. 

They said in order to understand the different types of online daters, comparisons between online dating apps (such as Muslim dating apps) can be done in the future.

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