Author ORCID Identifier

Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Master of Science in Family Sciences (MSFS)

Document Type

Master's Thesis


Agriculture, Food and Environment


Family Sciences

First Advisor

Dr. Ronald Werner-Wilson


The use of dating applications (apps) to find romantic and sexual partners is widespread across age groups, however, there is a paucity of research on dating apps with those in middle adulthood. Sexual script theory suggests that women’s agency (i.e. the ability to act in one’s own best interest) may be impacted by expectations from an inherently sexualized context, such as dating apps. Feminist theory contends that women’s agency is complicated by gender socialization due to the imbalance of power in society that greatly favors men. In this study seventeen women aged 30 to 49 completed in-depth semi-structured interviews, and their responses were analyzed using reflexive thematic analysis. Data analysis resulted in identifying themes related to how dating apps pose challenges to women’s agency, the casual nature of apps, positive aspects of dating apps in general and specific to women’s agency, differences and similarities to meeting in-person, and how the COVID-19 pandemic is impacting dating app experiences. These results highlight the complicated process of navigating dating app use for women aged 30 to 49 and call for cultural changes relating to gender socialization.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

Funding Information

This research was supported in part by the Chellgren Endowment, Department of Family Sciences. Additionally, I received partial funding from the John I. & Patricia J. Buster Fellowship (Fall 2020 & Spring 2021) and the Richards Graduate Student Research Activity Award (Fall 2020).