Life over the last two years has completely transformed for many people. The world seems like a completely different place in some ways, and the dating scene is one of the spaces where that is most acutely felt. With the fear of COVID-19, intermittent lockdowns, and now a cautious re-emergence into a kind of ‘normal’ life acting as major hurdles in dating, single life has been anything but simple of late.
Priorities have changed, the way we approach dating apps has shifted and new terms like ‘slow dating’ ‘Vaxidating’ (or ‘hot vax summer’) have permeated our minds – and vocabularies.
So, as we grow accustomed to a post-lockdown life, what are the trends we’re seeing emerge? And what can we expect the dating scene to look like? Bumble and Hinge have some ideas.
Both dating apps have completed research into the wants and thoughts of their users, and well – the findings are pretty eyeopening. Let’s take a look, shall we?
People are feeling a little anxious about it all
For those who were impacted by lockdowns in recent months, that meant spending winter months locked up in your home. We know that can have an impact on mental health generally, but Bumble also shared that users have voiced concerns regarding body image and confidence with new social interactions.
Lucille McCart, APAC Communications Director Bumble shared in a statement that, “It is very clear that the pandemic has brought about new dating behaviours for single Australians. As we head out of lockdown and into the warm summer months, predictions of a ‘hot vax summer’ might not be completely accurate as single Australians are more cautious about first-time sex and look to find more meaningful relationships.”
“What we do know is that putting yourself out there again after a dating hiatus can be nerve-wracking, but also empowering. Our new research shows that single Aussies will have to navigate a myriad of unfamiliar conversations, changed priorities and new behaviours and expectations this summer as it comes to find love post-lockdown.”
In the app’s study of single Aussies (1,029 single Australians aged 18-49 years were surveyed), three quarters (75%) of singles looking to date shared they felt some anxiety about returning to dating.
I mean, can you blame them?
Let’s talk about the rise of ‘slow dating’
As we mentioned earlier, ‘slow dating’ is becoming an increasingly popular prospect for many. Folks are being more selective with who they spend their time with, and they’re investing more time into getting to know potential partners before diving into romance.
In Bumble’s survey, more than half (53%) of single Aussies expressed that they will be waiting longer to have sex with a new partner compared to before the pandemic.
Hinge also shared with Refinery29 UK that 39% of users have admitted to being “more picky since the pandemic” – with 91% of those ‘picky’ singles sharing they’re doing so because they don’t want to “waste time”.
Those who are returning to dating post-lockdown are increasingly doing so with the hope of starting a relationship, data indicates. Bumble’s research shows that is consistent with 58% of its users, in particular, millennials and Gen X – who are seeking relationships at a rate of 62% and 70%, respectively.
This, the app shares, can also be seen in the way we’re approaching first dates.
“I think we will also see a very different idea of the perfect first date over the coming months,” McCart said in a statement.
“Pre-pandemic, drinks at the pub was the standard first date activity, but now we have discovered walking dates and activity-based dates like going to the golfing range or kayaking. This summer there will be a new norm for the first date that doesn’t revolve as much around crowded pubs and clubs. I think this is great as these activities allow you to get to know someone on a completely different level.”
Seemingly, more people are questioning how they approached dating before and looking to place more time and effort on making genuine connections.
No jab, no play
The final trend we’re seeing emerge post-lockdown is a serious interest in vaccination status. Bumble shared that almost half of single Aussies (49%) will exclusively be dating vaccinated people.
Outside of that, however, it seems folks are keen to back to IRL dates. Research indicates that 70% of Bumble users want to date in person post lockdown, 20% are keen on socially distanced dates and 10% remain comfortable with virtual dates only.
If you’re one of the singles who are sticking to virtual connections for the moment, Hinge has introduced a new element that may make it easier to get a sense of a potential partner.
The dating app has launched Voice Prompts as an option to add to your profile, after hearing that 50% of Hinge users felt turned off after hearing a date’s voice for the first time. And Voice Notes – which can be sent in-chat – after learning that 80% of users feel texting along makes it hard to get to know someone.
I guess the key element here is that people are still, understandably, finding their feet when it comes to love in the age of Covid. It may take some time, but hey – if taking things slowly and being a little more open about your hesitations means you can be honest about what you need from dating, surely that’s a good thing?