Klohnen and Mendelsohn (1998) determined that individuals’ descriptions of their “ideal self” influenced perceptions of their romantic partners in the direction of their ideal self-conceptions. (2002) found that in comparison to face-to-face interactions, Internet interactions allowed individuals to better express aspects of their true selves—aspects of themselves that they wanted to express but felt unable to.

The relative anonymity of online interactions and the lack of a shared social network online may allow individuals to reveal potentially negative aspects of the self online (Bargh et al., 2002).

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However, research suggests that pressures to highlight one’s positive attributes are experienced in tandem with the need to present one’s true (or authentic) self to others, especially in significant relationships.

Intimacy in relationships is linked to feeling understood by one’s partner (Reis & Shaver, 1988) and develops “through a dynamic process whereby an individual discloses personal information, thoughts, and feelings to a partner; receives a response from the partner; and interprets that response as understanding, validating, and caring” (Laurenceau, Barrett, & Pietromonaco, 1998, p. Therefore, if participants aspire to an intimate relationship, their desire to feel understood by their interaction partners will motivate self-disclosures that are open and honest as opposed to deceptive.

This article focuses on the ways in which CMC interactants manage their online self-presentation and contributes to our knowledge of these processes by examining these issues in the naturalistic context of online dating, using qualitative data gathered from in-depth interviews with online dating participants.

In contrast to a technologically deterministic perspective that focuses on the characteristics of the technologies themselves, or a socially deterministic approach that privileges user behavior, this article reflects a social shaping perspective.

Capacities are those aspects of technology that enhance our ability to connect with one another, enact change, and so forth; constraints are those aspects of technology that hinder our ability to achieve these goals.

An important aspect of technology use, which is mentioned but not explicitly highlighted in Howard’s framework, is the notion of , which describes the specific strategies employed by individuals to exploit the capacities and minimize the constraints associated with their use of ICTs.

Social shaping of technology approaches (Dutton, 1996; Mac Kenzie & Wajcman, 1985; Woolgar, 1996) acknowledge the ways in which information and communication technologies (ICTs) both shape and are shaped by social practices.

As Dutton points out, “technologies can open, close, and otherwise shape social choices, although not always in the ways expected on the basis of rationally extrapolating from the perceived properties of technology” (1996, p. One specific framework that reflects this approach is Howard’s (2004) embedded media perspective, which acknowledges both the capacities and the constraints of ICTs.

Although the notion of circumvention is certainly not new to CMC researchers, this article seeks to highlight the importance of circumvention practices when studying the social aspects of technology use.