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When you press enter on the Google search above, many ads for dating sites appear in the results: “Expat Dating Site Prague”, “ 1000s Czech Singles”, and “Czech Dating Site”, to name a few. However, nothing really comes up about the dating climate in general; even after trying multiple searches and going into even the fourth page of results, I could not find much about dating in the Czech Republic. Maybe I am a terrible researcher…Or, maybe this further supports the idea that Czechs are not so fond of discussing their personal lives.

As we know, Americans are very keen on sharing as much information online as their friends and family can stand. Twitter would not be where it is today if people weren’t so obsessed with talking about themselves and their lives. On the flip side, Czechs do not seem to possess the same personality trait (narcissism? friendliness? you decide). As a few different professors have confessed to my classes this semester, even American students in professional, classroom settings are more willing to share their thoughts about subject matter and their personal opinions. On the flip side, the Czech students that I teach English to are not as vocal about their inner thoughts and lives as I expected them to be—based on my experience in the United States.

Thus, Twitter does not have the power over Czechs that it does over Americans. In fact, Twitter does not even give users the options to see trending tweets in the Czech Republic. So, perhaps I am not the worst researcher in the world, and have simply stumbled upon another example of Czech “silence”.

Let me say, before I go any further, that I am not claiming that Czechs do not use social networking sites for dating; only that maybe it is uncommon to discuss this usage. There were few articles published about it, and virtually no data on the subject. This blog post is not an attempt to analyze Czech dating patterns—I unfortunately do not have the data nor authority to do so—but a basic study of some of the dating sites that originated in the Czech republic.

According to one article on visahunter.com, some of the most popular dating sites in the Czech Republic are Seznamka and Stesti.

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Screen shot by Caroline Miranda

Seznamka was established in 1998, and according to them, they are “one of the largest and longest-operating in the country”. From looking at the homepage, it appears that the site functions via “ads” placed by users trying to find some particular thing in the dating world.  There are categories of these ads to chose from and search through: serious familiarization and non-binding flirt, and then several based on interests, dates, location, and even a category for partner exchange.

Stesti is mostly the same, but with an even more direct approach. Users’ profiles are readily displayed on the front page of the website with a very brief description—username, age, and location. At the top of the page is what looks like either popular “advertisements” or recent comments made by users looking for love. 

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Screen shot by Caroline Miranda

This page reinforces my thesis: there are no long-winded descriptions about how many yoga classes someone has taken or about how much they love their sports car. Instead, ads like “Hi, I am here…where are you?” are more common. It is a very direct system that shows only the most important, distilled facts about a user. Assumably, this method is quite popular, and would allow for users to keep most of their information private until a face to face meeting.

Only the advertisements tab includes longer descriptions of what the person is looking for. Even individual profiles are fairly simplistic.

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Screen shot by Caroline Miranda

Across the Atlantic, we have OkCupid, which usually produces this sort of profile:

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Image courtesy of See-ming Lee

This profile has managed to include several paragraphs about himself, that tell you so much, yet so little about him. It’s even difficult to determine what kind of relationship they are looking for. From this, and many other profiles like it, one can further confirm the difference of social media usage by Czechs and Americans: Czechs seem to prefer streamlined, direct, yet private presentation, whereas Americans use floods of “information” to intrigue potential partners.

From my observations I feel I can absolutely confirm that social media provide allegorical models of the societies in which they originate or are popular. Differing social and political histories and current climates undoubtedly contribute to all parts of society. Online dating is not immune to the typical behavior patterns of a group of people, as exhibited by this small sample. While the Czech “advertisements” were often more direct and less flowery, American profiles presented vague personal statements and an overabundance of personal information.  Even in this small study of dating sites and profiles’ appearances, strong cultural differences are clear. 

Featured Image: Screen shot by Caroline Miranda

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2 thoughts on “Czech Yes or No: What Dating Sites Can Tell Us About the Czech Republic

  1. Online dating culture is a relatively new and growing trend on social media. It is an interesting and quite telling way of the degree people allow technologies into the more intimate parts of their lives. Personally, I find America’s online dating communities to be relatively more mature and open than many other countries, just like its other social media usage. Tinder, Match.com, OkCupid are all good examples of how online dating culture has existed and transformed in the United States for the past decade. In comparison, in terms of dating culture, in Taiwan (from what I observed and heard), Tinder is used mainly by young people who’ve studied/lived abroad or exposed to western culture and influence; my friend described it as a way of meeting and chatting with international people and American-born Taiwanese, and less of a hook-up space.
    For the Czech Republic, it may be the case that this ‘silence’ is caused by language barriers (i.e. perhaps Czech dating sites/apps/forums are more accessible/searchable via the Czech language), or the fact that most people don’t use online technologies but traditional methods to meet others, i.e. clubs/bars, student organizations, friend/family introduction, etc. I find it interesting that users on Czech dating sites provide little information about themselves, as it doesn’t seem like an important criterion for them to match with one another. While I agree with your point that it may be because Czechs prefer more direct, private conversations with one another, I also can’t help but wonder if the reason that profiles aren’t important now is due to the current number of people on online dating sites is still quite small (thus smaller pool of selection). If in the future, the digital dating community does grow larger, perhaps Czechs would want to see bit more information about their potential candidates before they actually message the other person and arrange a date.

  2. This is a great topic! I love your approach to this. Vivien in her above comment may be right about the language barrier issue with researching, but I think you may be on to something with the “Czech silence” idea. There’s a significant amount of humility required to put oneself out there on a dating site. I think that American culture, especially now with so many dating apps and a relatively strong hookup culture among young people, provides a large cultural conversation around dating sites that allows people to feel no shame in joining and sharing in them. This is not to say that Czech culture shames online dating, but if it is not as present in the cultural conversation then perhaps the participation is not as in-depth. I think Vivien’s point about the smaller dating pool makes a big difference too—if Czechs do not have to distinguish themselves from as many potential matches, then they do not have to include as much specific information. I think it is also possible that Czech culture celebrates the directness of these example profiles. Perhaps the American profile seems over-the-top, with too much of a pining aspect to it to be appropriate for first meeting someone. I would love to see an in-depth study, along the lines of The App Generation with interviews and surveys, about Czech online dating to get to the bottom of this.

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