Subscription 790/year or 190/quarter

Exploring sexuality unrestrained without being judged by others

The New Laws of Love: Online Dating and the Privatization of Intimacy
Forfatter: Marie Bergström
Forlag: Polity (USA)
dating / Marie Bergström looks at modern love and sexuality in connection with online dating. But is online dating really as safe as she claims?


Today's communication technology has made online dating more popular than ever. During the pandemic, restrictions and isolation lead us to constantly seek human contact through digital platforms. What would we have done without the internet during the pandemic? That's not good to say.

What we do know is that online dating is here to stay. IN The New Laws of Love sociologist and researcher Marie Bergström portrays the phenomenon by looking at modern love and sexuality in our time. The starting point for the book is interviews with younger people in France who exclusively date digitally.

The book is divided into two parts: The first part addresses the privatization of dating, entitled "The Privatization of Dating", and has four sub-chapters: "The History of Matchmaking", "Dating Technicians", "The Keys to Success" and "Time for Sex and Love". The second part is called "Unequal before the Laws of Love": with the subchapters "Class at First Sight", "The Age of Singles" and 2Digital Double Standards". Finally, she has her own concluding section, which she has called "Private Matters".

Couple relationship

There are more single people in the 2020s than there were in the 1970s. This is not because it is more difficult to enter into a relationship today; On the contrary. According to Bergström, there are just as many who enter relationships today as it was in the past. The difference is that there are now more people who are putting an end to it. But the fear that marriage and love are threatened and about to disappear still exists. That is why we are still on the lookout.

When we date online, we get the opportunity to date from other social circles than our friends. Online dating has no boundaries. It is an open free zone where you can do what you want without being detected, Bergström believes.

Personal chemistry is hard to detect digitally.

Online dating gives a special freedom that you don't have if, for example, you meet someone at the university where you study. Bergström points out, however, that it is often the case that you meet people from the same social class as yourself.

Even though dating has become "privatized", it does not mean that it has become more dangerous than before. Research shows that sexual violence still mostly occurs in couples or in close relationships that have lasted over a number of years. In that sense, it is safer to meet someone online.


With physical distance and the option to end the conversation at any time, women gain more control over the situation in case men become disrespectful and aggressive in the conversation thread. The MeToo movement have shown that not all men always take a no for a no.

Still, you never know what could possibly happen when you decide to meet physically. But at least you have had time to get to know each other digitally – and that before an uncomfortable cross-border situation can suddenly arise in the form of sexual violence.

But is online dating really as safe as Bergström claims? We have seen several fraudsters exposed through various dating apps such as Tinder, for example. For example, the documentary portrays The Tinder Swindler of Netflix Israeli Simon Leviev, who dated various girls in Europe – including the film's Norwegian protagonist – whom he met on Tinder – and then defrauded them of millions.



Research shows that users of online dating are often people from the LGBT+ community – primarily gays and lesbians. This is nothing new. This has been the case for as long as online matchmaking has existed, since those can meet like-minded people in a private bubble without being directly confronted with society's prejudices.

Young people between the ages of 18 and 29 are the ones who most frequently use these platforms – an age where people explore their sexuality and are very inquisitive. People in this age group were born into a digital era and are more comfortable using dating apps than older generations.

Online dating also makes women bigger sexual freedom. There they can unfold and explore their own sexuality uninhibited without being judged by others in their close or distant circle of friends. It is still the case that a "proper woman" (according to society) should not have so many sex partners. Many of the women Bergström interviewed say they prefer to use apps for casual sex.


Even though online dating takes place on apps, where no one else can see you, that doesn't mean it stays private. The calls are saved on your phone. If one of the parties wishes, that person can leak the conversations on social media by taking screenshots. The conversations can also be used against you if you write something wrong and disrespectful at some point. On Instagram or Twitter there are several accounts dedicated to this. Bergström does not write anything about this.

It is easier to expose criminals through these apps, as the evidence against them is what is entered and sent. Although these digital platforms give the impression of being private, they are not completely so. Oral conversations at home can thus be more private than typed conversations on the telephone. Physical meetings are often more intimate than digital meetings. Personal chemistry is hard to detect digitally. But it is a matter of taste and preference, and fortunately it is up to the individual to choose whether to go the digital or physical route.

Pinar Ciftci
Pinar Ciftci
Ciftci is a journalist and actor.

You may also like