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This study explored online personal ads of 294 heterosexual and homosexual men and women in the United States through a qualitative analysis and comparison of participant-generated “personal” and “preferred partner” narratives. Nine characteristics were identified and combined into three overarching categories: physical, lifestyle, and personality characteristics. These three personal and preferred partner characteristics were examined for difference by gender, sexual orientation, age and desired relationship type of the advertisers. Main effects emerged for all four predictors, most notably for age and desired relationship type. Additionally, this study explored the possibility that personal and preferred partner narratives contained similar constellations of characteristics, finding significant correlations on all three variables, lending support for the matching hypothesis in dating partner characteristics.

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This is an author-produced, peer-reviewed version of this article. © 2009, Elsevier. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License ( The final, definitive version of this document can be found online at Computers in Human Behavior, doi: 10.1016/j.chb.2010.02.002