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We’ve seen so many shifts in dating, sex, and relationships over the past year, and I hope some of them are here to stay.
The dating app Plenty of Fish recently released its annual list of Dating Trends, in which it polls nearly 6,700 singles to better understand how the pandemic continues to impact their dating lives and what’s ahead in dating in 2022.
Nearly 6,700 U.S.-based Plenty of Fish users were polled online in October 2021. Participants were ages 18-60 with 62% identifying as male and 37% female. Read on to learn about some of the study’s most interesting findings, and I’ll offer my take as a relationship expert in the dating industry.
Singles have become much more strategic and thoughtful when it comes to dating. That has resulted in two main trends:
A quarter of baby boomers and 1 in 5 women are joining the Great Dating Resignation – AKA ending a serious relationship after gaining clarity and perspective over the course of the pandemic.
While a good number of singles have become more thoughtful about dating and relationships, others are taking a more light-hearted approach and living it up from the very first date!
For example, 43% of responding Gen Zers said they have engaged in baecationing, which involves going on vacation with someone you just met. Travelling with someone is a great (albeit intense!) way to get to know one another, as many daters say they like diving in head first to see if there is an immediate connection.
If you’re hesidating (AKA feeling anxious about dating), know that you’re not alone. According to the OnePoll study commissioned by Plenty of Fish, about 70% of singles ages 18 to 65 are experiencing the same feelings. So go ahead and let a potential date know. Expressing genuine vulnerability is one way to foster a connection, and they are likely feeling the same way.
It’s important to remember feelings of nervousness and anxiety are entirely normal during first dates. If you want to soothe first date jitters (whether it’s an online or in-person meeting), practice mindful breathing for a few minutes – it can slow your heart rate and help you feel more present and comfortable in your body.
If you’re not sure whether you’re ready to date, that’s okay too. Chatting online is a great option (60% of singles said they’ll continue to use technology to date — even post-pandemic!), especially if you are looking for a low-pressure experience.
Video is a great tool as it allows you to make the dating experience more interactive and fun. You could take a cooking class together online or even play a game, reducing the pressure of a prolonged face-to-face conversation over dinner.
Doing almost everything online has become the norm. We work, bank, make purchases, engage in social movements and stay connected with loved ones online, so it makes sense that we’re looking for connections of all kinds online.
Singles are using dating apps regularly and are comfortable using them, so it makes sense that they’re evolving and starting to use them as another way to make connections online, beyond romantic relationships.
Plenty of Fish also found that 50% of singles (and 57% of Gen-Zers) said they have fostered new friendships through dating apps this year! Plenty of Fish’s livestreaming feature helps support this desire for online connections, giving singles the option to join live video streams and play games.
Having other single friends is an important part of the dating experience for singles. You can love your coupled friends, but they may not be as social and often aren’t up for the same adventures as your single friends.
All types of relationships enrich our lives — from friendships to romantic connections. So it makes sense that we also seek out new friends while dating — and what better place to do so than on a dating app since they’re literally designed with connection in mind.
I believe some of these new trends make for happier, more fulfilling connections. Singles are placing more importance on emotional and intellectual intimacy, leading to a more nuanced and layered approach to connections and attraction. Whether casual or long-term, this shift toward other forms of intimacy helps build a stronger foundation and is likely here to stay.
Alongside this shift toward other forms of intimacy, conversations about boundaries and physical intimacy have become more normalized, including conversations around safety (i.e. vaccines, masks, etc). These conversations go hand in hand with another new dating trend, dar-WIN-ing, which involves refusing to date those who don’t believe in science.
Singles are feeling empowered to have uncomfortable conversations earlier in the relationship to make sure their values are aligned to a potential partner, ensuring everyone is on the same page so time is not wasted. The more we reflect on our own and the more we share with others, the more likely we are to feel valued and understood.