Document Type



Irish Journal of Occupational Therapy

Publication Date





Ahead of Print


Ahead of Print

First Page


Last Page



Occupational Therapy


Purpose – Dating is a meaningful occupation for many single people. The occupation of dating has transformed considerably in Ireland due to recent changes in Irish culture and the advent of online dating technology. The purpose of this study was to explore the complexities and intricacies of dating in an Irish context.

Design/methodology/approach – A qualitative research approach was used and data were collected using semi-structured interviews with ten heterosexual women (age 24-34) living in urban areas of Ireland. Data were analysed using inductive thematic analysis (Braun and Clarke, 2006).

Findings – Dating did not fully resonate with their experience, but they did not have an alternative term. The form of dating was influenced by cultural, temporal, physical and virtual contexts. Beliefs about dating, fluctuating emotions and feelings of mortification because of the stigma of online dating created meaning for participants and influenced their use of strategies to improve resilience. While dating was not a preferred occupation for participants because of its arduous nature and fluctuations in emotion, it was seen as essential to fulfil the function of finding a romantic partner or partner in occupation. Connections between participant experiences and occupational science are discussed to address the lexicon of dating and the form, function and meaning of dating.

Originality/value – This study contributes to occupational science knowledge by revealing the occupational understandings of dating as an emerging and dynamic occupation in a rapidly changing culture of Ireland.


Copyright © 2022, Karen McCarthy and Jeanne Jackson

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.