Gen Z Dating Preferences

Study

Survey: Gen Z Women and Men Reveal Their Surprising New Preferences for Finding Love

Amber Brooks

Written by: Amber Brooks

Amber Brooks

Amber Brooks is the Editor-in-Chief at DatingAdvice.com. When she was growing up, her family teased her for being "boy crazy," but she preferred to think of herself as a budding dating and relationship expert. As an English major at the University of Florida, Amber honed her communication skills to write clearly, knowledgeably, and passionately about a variety of subjects. Now with over 1,800 lifestyle articles to her name, Amber brings her tireless wit and relatable experiences to DatingAdvice.com. She has been quoted by the Washington Times, Cosmopolitan, The New York Post, and AskMen.

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Edited by: Lillian Castro

Lillian Castro

Lillian Guevara-Castro brings more than 30 years of journalism experience to ensure DatingAdvice articles have been edited for overall clarity, accuracy, and reader engagement. She has worked at The Atlanta Journal and Constitution, The Gwinnett Daily News, and The Gainesville Sun covering lifestyle topics.

Reviewed by: Jon McCallister

Jon McCallister

Jon came to DatingAdvice in 2016 with more than 15 years of editorial experience behind him. He has experience editing, writing, and designing at numerous publications, including the Gainesville Sun. Jon enjoys researching emerging trends and seeking out the companies, organizations, and individuals making an impact in the modern world of dating. He excels at working closely with writers and editors to improve the quality of online content.

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Gen Z has been turning away from dating apps for the last few years — but as our latest survey reveals, men and women are going their own way. 

While women are keener on going to parties and other social gatherings to meet potential partners, men prefer organized meetups like speed dating

And the metaverse? Men love it, but women aren’t so sure how useful it is for romance. 

We surveyed Gen Zers aged 18-27 to explore their dating preferences. According to our findings, only 15.53% of those surveyed still favor popular dating apps, which, while they can lead people down a rabbit hole, continue to help them find someone to date.

Dating trends

Interestingly, most Gen Zers prefer to meet in person, with 90.24% of total respondents saying they want to meet a potential partner at a social gathering, a bookstore, a local club or class, and other offline events and places. 

Let’s dive into the results of our survey, compare the preferences of men and women, and provide contextual analysis to uncover the key dating trends among Gen Z.

Offline Meeting Places Have the Upper Hand 

When we created our survey to find out where Gen Z prefers to meet potential dates or partners, we put together a list of 14 possible answers. Some social gatherings pertain to offline settings, while the rest pertain to online settings.

As we’ve seen, 90.24% of respondents listed an offline setting, while 40.65% listed an online setting. 

Evolving meeting preferences

This sharp divide backs up the recent claims that, despite growing up with advanced tech like AI, Gen Z is going old-school when it comes to dating. Young respondents said they prefer to see a person face to face before they start getting to know them. 

This naturally saves time because you don’t have to go through the rigors of chatting online before meeting up, only to find that you don’t click.

There’s barely any gender divide on this one, with 92.86% of males and 87.60% of females choosing offline settings. 

Slightly more men (42.06%) than women (39.20%) cited online settings. The metaverse was the most popular for men (17.46%), and social media was the most popular for women (18.40%). 

Women & Men Have Ditched the Dating Apps. But Their Replacements Couldn’t Be More Different 

While Gen Z males and females are both uninstalling their dating apps and going old-school, that doesn’t mean they agree on their preferred alternative methods for meeting potential partners.

While as many as 20.4% of women surveyed said they prefer social gatherings such as parties and weddings, almost the same number of men (20.24%) said they’d rather find love at an organized meetup, such as a speed dating event.

Coming second for women is meeting people via friends and family, while coming second for men aged 18-27 is “standing up for a cause” (protests and the like). 

In person vs online

Men put the metaverse third, while the third most popular method for women is an in-person meet-cute, such as a bookstore. 

Ultimately, Gen Z females had a totally different top five compared to the guys. This could make it harder for both sexes to meet potential partners since they’ll be looking in different places. 

Gen Z top preferred ways of meeting

It also validates the common theory that dating is harder than ever in the modern world, with people worried that they simply can’t find their soul mate. Is it just the case that men and women are looking in the wrong places? 

To find out more, we’ll use the rest of the article to break down the key numbers while suggesting possible ways that men and women could come together to find their next partner. 

Social Gatherings the Most Popular Way for Gen Z to Meet Potential Partners, with 20% of Women Preferring It

Gen Z gets a lot of flak for oversharing TikTok videos, turning everything into a meme, and living in the metaverse. There’s also the perception that Gen Z is insulated and prefers to spend more time online than living in the real world. 

The reality is actually a lot different than the perception — at least for female daters. 

According to the results of our survey, most 18- to 27-year-olds said they prefer to meet new people at a social gathering (such as a party) than anywhere else. This suggests that contrary to some popular beliefs, Gen Z daters are a social bunch who are looking to go old-school when it comes to meeting date prospects.

Rather than hiding behind their sofas any time they’re invited to a party, just under a quarter of 18- to 27-year-olds jump at the idea — especially singletons who think there might be some romance waiting for them. 

That said, women relish meeting men at social gatherings much more than men do. As many as 20.4% of women who took our survey said they like to meet new people at parties, making it their top-ranked preference. 

On the other hand, just 12.30% of men prefer to meet new people this way, making it their twelfth-ranked preference. This means that the numbers will be skewed at parties, with more women than men turning up, therefore making it harder for the men who do turn up to meet a woman. 

Why such a big difference? It might be that Gen Z females are simply more sociable. Or it could be that, due to social norms, men are expected to make the first move at a party and strike up a conversation with a girl, and Gen Z daters fear rejection. 

More Women Prefer to Meet in Other Social Settings, With 19% of Gen Z Women Favoring Meet-Cutes

While mankind is meant to be a social animal, it seems that in 2024, more younger women than younger men want to meet new people in any social setting. 

We’re not just talking about organized social gatherings like parties here — we’re talking about any and all types of social settings where you could meet the love of your life purely by chance.

18.8% of women who took our survey said they’d like to meet potential partners at an in-person meet-cute, such as meeting someone by chance at a grocery store or a bookstore.

This contrasts with male daters aged 18-27, with 14.29% wanting to meet women “accidentally” in a social setting. However, the numbers are higher than those hoping to meet women at a party, which suggests men don’t mind meeting women in public — it’s just that they’d rather do it when the pressure is off. 

These results also mean that Gen Z backs the common trend that women are more socially connected than men, with women preferring to get out and about, make new friends, and increase their social status. 

The findings demonstrate that a large number of Gen Z women are confident enough to strike up conversations with strangers in public and would welcome it if a man came over to them in a social setting and said “hi.” 

Fellas? That’s all the encouragement you need. 

More Men Prefer Organized Meet-Ups, with Speed Dating Leading at 20%

Perhaps men are worried that their attempts at flirting with a woman at a social gathering (such as a friend’s birthday party) will backfire, or maybe they’re scared of rejection. The fact is — as we’ve seen – far fewer men than women prefer to meet potential partners at social gatherings.

Instead, the number one way of meeting women for the 18-27-year-old males who took our survey is organized meetups, such as speed dating events, where it’s expected that a man can walk over to a woman and start a conversation. 

This proves that men are willing to meet women in a social setting — it’s just that they’d prefer a bit more structure. In other words, they want to meet women when all the cards are on the table, and everyone knows that people are here to flirt and potentially pair off. 

Organized meetups come with their own drawbacks (the nerves will still be strong). But because they offer men a bit more structure and implicit consent, it allows them to relax a bit more and try flirting in the knowledge that women might be more reciprocal to their charms. 

Organized meetups can also save people time in the sense that those attending know they’ve got at least a chance of meeting a potential partner, which may better suit busy single men. 

Dating Apps Aren’t Cool Anymore: Only 13% of Gen Z Women and 15% of Men Preferring Them

Are people simply exhausted from swiping to find love? 

Perhaps they’re sick of matching with people who don’t talk. Or maybe they’re tired of heading out to meet someone they met on a dating app, only to find they look nothing like their picture. 

It sucks, but any one of those reasons could explain why Gen Z is ditching the dating apps. 

According to our survey, only 13.2% of women aged 18-27 prefer to use popular dating apps or websites like Tinder and Bumble to meet someone. Men aren’t much different, with just 15.08% of same-aged male daters preferring to use dating apps.

Gen Z shifts away from apps

Of course, these figures don’t mean that dating apps have declined in general, but they do mean that younger daters are less keen on using them. 

As we’ve just speculated, there could be any number of reasons for dating app fatigue. It might be the case that younger people value their time more and don’t want to go on dates that could prove to be fruitless. Or it might be that Gen Z now lives in a world where internet rejection is a thing – and it has dulled their appetite for online dating. 

In other words, being ghosted on Twitch could make someone shy away from the possibility of being ghosted on Tinder. 

We could argue that Gen Z prefers to use other types of online platforms when it comes to meeting for dating. This is potentially the case for females, with 18.4% of women telling us they like to use social media apps such as Instagram and TikTok to find dates. 

However, this contrasts with just 11.51% of males surveyed who said they use other types of online platforms for romance, which suggests that looking for dates online the traditional way simply isn’t something young men are into. 

Are Protests the New Dating Scene? 19% of Men Think So

Whether the facts back it up or not, there’s been a huge rise in protests in recent years. From worldwide Black Lives Matter events to climate rallies and political protests, there seems to be something going on every weekend. 

According to our survey of 18 to 27-year-old daters, 19.05% of men prefer to meet new people for dating purposes while standing up for a cause and holding up a placard. 

This makes it their second-highest-ranked preference in terms of where they look for potential partners. And while “standing up for a cause” ranked seventh for female respondents, 14.4% of those who took our survey listed this as a good way to meet people.

Love in activism

The benefits are undeniable. While not everyone who goes to a rally or protest will be single and ready to mingle, you can guarantee that anyone who’s there shares your values and political views. 

This sort of thing clearly matters for Gen Z singles, with males, in particular, looking to date someone whose opinions on key matters align with their own. They can go to a rally and start chatting with someone who they already know they’ve got something in common with. And if love blossoms while they’re fighting the good fight? It’s a win-win. 

Indeed, the results highlight a wider cultural trend. The fact is that while Gen Z is obviously looking for love as much as anyone else, they’re so politically and socially active that they’re not willing to start dating someone who doesn’t share their common goals. 

Can Funerals Be Romantic? 14% of Gen Z Men Open to Meeting Partners in Atypical Settings

In the 2005 movie “Wedding Crashers,” Will Ferrel’s deplorable character gleefully told his buddy Owen Wilson that crashing weddings was so last year and that funeral crashing is what it’s all about now. Owen Wilson cringed, and the audience probably cringed, too. 

Have things changed? 

While no one is suggesting you should go to a funeral with the express purpose of meeting someone to ask out, Gen Z’s answers on this front might surprise you.

Unusual places for love

According to our survey, 13.89% of male 18-to 27-year-old daters said they like to meet potential dates or partners in atypical settings, including funerals, at the doctor’s, and at the hospital. 

Female daters from the same age group largely share these thoughts, with 12.4% saying they’re open to flirting and potentially setting up a date in an atypical environment. 

Grief can, of course, create strong bonds, and there’s nothing to stop you from striking up a conversation with someone you happen to get along with, whether it be at a funeral or elsewhere. Just remember to read the room and be cautious with your approaches. After all, no one visits the doctor expecting to be asked out. 

Are We Lost in the Metaverse? 17% of Gen Z Men Prefer Meeting Partners in Virtual Reality

If you ask someone who isn’t Gen Z whether they look for love in the metaverse, they might give you a puzzled look. Can they even define what the metaverse is?

On the other hand, Gen Z is quite literally going through young adulthood in conjunction with the metaverse, which – unsurprisingly — has various definitions. Perhaps the most accepted definition is that the metaverse is a “digital playground” where you can meet up with your friends and meet new people.

The catch? It’s all done in Virtual Reality or Augmented Reality.

Men turn to metaverse for love

Having analyzed other results from our survey, it probably comes as no surprise that it’s young men who strongly prefer meeting potential partners in the metaverse. 

17.46% of males who took our survey said they like to meet people this way for romantic encounters, making it their third-ranked preference. Remember, men are more averse to meeting people at real-life parties than women. They’re also not so keen on using social media apps to meet people — but when you bring VR into play, they’re super eager. 

Women are more opposed to using the metaverse to meet a potential partner, with only 10.8% of female respondents ticking this particular box, thereby making it their least preferred method — with the exception of “no preferred methods.” 

The easiest explanation for the gender divide could be that men spend more time gaming and indulging in online activities, but according to the latest data, this is simply untrue. It could just be a confidence thing, with men more confident behind an avatar or online persona, whereas women prefer to flaunt their true personality in real-life settings. 

Midwesterners Give the Metaverse a Thumbs Down, with Only 2% Interested in VR Dating

When we broke our results down region by region, it was clear that Midwesterners aren’t interested in meeting someone via the metaverse. Just 2.42% of young daters living here say they’re interested in using VR for romantic purposes. 

This contrasts strongly with those living in the West, where 11.80% say they step into the metaverse in pursuit of a potential partner. It probably makes sense since the West has long been associated with tech booms. 

The West (15.41%) also put “standing up for a cause” high in their preferences, while only 5.65% of Midwesterners go to protests or rallies to meet someone. 

A whopping 41.94% of those living in the Midwest said they prefer to meet potential dates via friends, family, and school. Those in the Northeast, the South, and the West all said this is their number one preferred way of meeting someone new. 

The trend largely continues when we break the results down city by city, with as many as 50% of those living in Indianapolis saying they meet dates via friends, family, and school. 

Denver residents (35.14%) stood out when it comes to preferring to meet people by accident in a bookstore, at the gym, or even in an elevator. This result contrasts sharply with just 12.15% in Indianapolis. 

The numbers are down across the board when it comes to dating apps, with only 5.71% of young people living in Austin listing the apps as a preference for meeting people, although Philadelphia (30.95%) bucked the trend on this front, scoring the highest. 

Wrapping Up 

When it comes to dating and meeting new people, Gen Z is taking things in a new direction – but according to the results of our survey, it’s not necessarily the direction people might have envisioned.

Young daters are putting down the dating apps, and Gen Z females stated that social gatherings, such as parties, are their #1 way of meeting potential partners. 

And while Gen Z males are less into parties than organized events like speed dating, they’re also not so keen on dating apps. Instead, they’d rather take a trip through the metaverse and engage with people in VR. 

Ultimately, the latest dating trends reveal that young women are more sociable than ever, while men perhaps aren’t as confident at randomly walking up to people and asking them out. However, now that they know women want to be asked out at a party, perhaps guys will grow in confidence.

Methodology & Sources

Our aim was to find out how Gen Z feels when it comes to modern dating preferences. We commissioned a survey of 502 U.S. daters aged 18-27, asking them, “When it comes to finding someone to date, what, if any, are your preferred methods?”

Our survey employed a multiple-choice format, allowing respondents to select any and all options that applied to them. 

This meant, for example, they could say they prefer to meet people via dating apps, the metaverse, and at parties or other social gatherings, or they could just answer that they prefer to meet someone by chance at a bookstore.