Online dating or Internet dating is a personal introductory system where individuals can find and contact each other over the Internet to arrange a date, usually with the objective of developing a personal, romantic, or sexual relationship.

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This metaphor of the marketplace – a place where people go to "shop" for potential romantic partners and to "sell" themselves in hopes of creating a successful romantic relationship – is highlighted by the layout and functionality of online dating websites.

The marketplace metaphor may also resonate with participants' conceptual orientation towards the process of finding a romantic partner.

Some sites provide free registration, but may offer services which require a monthly fee.

Other sites depend on advertising for their revenue.

The highest scoring dating service was Facebook, which uses the personal homepage genre, the message board genre, the weblog and directory genre, as well as utilizing the Circle of Friends.

The second highest scoring, Second Life utilizes virtual worlds, message boards, chat groups and profile pages to allow people to contact in a three-dimensional environment.

Also, this model generally allows users to switch between free and paying status at will and without having to do anything, simply providing advanced features for a set period of time whenever the according payment is received.

Ease of payment is also generally higher, with such sites accepting a variety of online currencies, letting users charge the payment to their cellular phones, etc.

More recently, the impact of social networking on online dating has been featured on the Questia online research website peer reviewed article ""I Luv U : )!

": A Descriptive Study of the Media Use of Individuals in Romantic Relationships" The most popular platforms are Twitter, Snapchat, Linked In and Instagram.

Some sites such as Ok Cupid.com, and are free and offer additional paid services in a freemium revenue model.