March 2012, Polity
The internet revolution has ensured that online dating has now become both widespread and commonplace. Online users can buy into the consumerist illusion that they can choose a man or woman in the same way that they would shop for groceries - this is the new hypermarket of desire. Women in particular can enjoy a new sexual assertiveness. Where once they might have looked for an emotional attachment, they are now demanding simply the right to have a good time.
However, love cannot be reduced to such simple terms. The apparently risk-free world of online dating is at odds with love in real life, which has its own demands and expectations. You cannot introduce another person into your life and expect everything to remain the same. Human beings have a way of turning your life upside down.
In this compelling book, Jean-Claude Kaufmann navigates this new emotional world and explores the tensions between sex and love, instant gratification and enduring commitment.
Prologue: On the net
- Love's new world
- The hypermarket of desire
- A virtual slap in the face
- A New Drug
- What Does ‘Just for Sex' Mean?
- The Net's Hidden Treasures
Part I: In real life
1. ‘You never know what to expect'
- ‘I Felt A Bit Like A Call Girl'
- ‘I'm Looking For a Man'
2. First steps
- The Sound of Heels
- Why Are so Many People Stood Up?
- Inner Beauty
- Dates That Do Not Work Out
- Making a Quick Get-Away
- Having a Drink
- Who Pays the Bill?
- Getting It Right
3. Getting it right
- A New Courtly Code
- Should You Kiss on A First Date?
- At Your Own Pace
- Kino Escalation
- ‘If He's A Good Kisser'
4. A new dance
- The Revolution in the Dating System
- What Flirting Means
- ‘Would You Like To Dance?'
- The Whole World is A Dance Hall
Part II: Pleasure and feeling
5. Should you have sex on a first date ?
- ‘If You Want To'
- Where's The Harm?
- A World Apart
- Cafés Elsewhere
6. Sex as a leisurely activity
- When Sex Broke Free From Feelings
- Sexual Liberation: How Do Things Really Stand?
- Feeling Good Together
- The Story of A.
- Post Coitum
7. The game
- The Games People Play
- A Popular Sport
- Some Portraits
- Disgust and Cynicism
8. The lovesex imbroglio
- A Little Love
- A New Relationship With Exes?
- People Still Want Long-Term Relationships
- Sex Is Not A Leisure Activity Like Any Other
- Sex, Lies and The Internet
- Sex/Love: A Historical Reversal
Part III: Women, Sex and Love
9. Unbridled pleasure?
- Provisional Freedom
- Men Never Change
- Freedom, Equality and Sexuality
- The Impossible Golden Mean
- A Cold, Selfish Monster
10. The ‘bad boy' paradox
- From Prince Charming to Bad Boy
- In Praise of Pick-Up Artists
- Return of the Bastard
11. Avoiding the traps
- Sex Today
- A Break From Normal Life
- Men As Sex Toys
- A Cycle
- The Dilemma
- Why Women Are Wallflowers
Appendix: on methodology
- A compelling study of the relationship between the internet and relationships from a best-selling sociologist.
- Kaufmann investigates whether can we ever really combine sex and feelings, instant gratification and enduring commitment, using the example of one-night stands arranged via online dating sites.
- He also focuses on the sexual freedom that women experience in this new virtual world.
- This engaging book will appeal to a wide range of general readers.
"Kaufmann suggests that we have to reverse out of the cul de sac
of sex for sex's sake and recombine it with love once more to make
our experiences less chilly but also less clouded by romantic
"Demonstrates the inherent problems that many women still face when it comes to navigating romantic and sexual relationships, whether or not the internet is involved."
Times Higher Education
"Kaufmann takes us through the problems that both men and women face in navigating the murky waters of cyberdating … For Kaufmann, although love online increasingly looks like a hypermarket, it doesn’t really offer all the ease and convenience promised. We remain only too trapped by our own passions and humiliations when we try to build relationships with the real people on the other side of an internet exchange."
"Confronts the biggest development in the world of love and sex over the past two decade: the internet … Kaufmann's study mostly shows how the internet, far from transforming our love lives, simply compounds existing contradictions."
"The internet - a new world unlike any we knew. Here nothing is
final and irrevocable, everything can be tried and experimented
with and there is always a second chance. But if this is blessing,
it is surely a mixed one. What is gained and what lost? And, most
importantly, how does love - that blissful state we so passionately
desire - fare when suspended between online comforts and the rugged
reality of the offline world? Jean-Claude Kaufmann offers us, the
perplexed and the confused, a truly priceless service. He locates,
spells out and carefully calculates the gains and losses revealed
at the critical encounter of the two worlds, at the moment of
truth: that first face-to-face date which follows online dating.
This illuminating and enlightening study is a report from a battle
which no one planned yet few, if any of us, can avoid."
Zygmunt Bauman, University of Leeds