More than half of Tinder members across the globe are Gen Z, and a new report has shown that we were already witnessing them redefining the rules of dating before the pandemic. Then everything changed in 2020.
The loss, longing, and loneliness that the pandemic created in the lives of young people has accelerated a new normal in dating intent, to find ways to connect more, come together for more reasons, and be more open on Tinder.
The Future of Dating Report report shows that Gen Z is breaking free of traditional dating strongholds and taboos. Dating is no longer about the slow courtship or finding ‘the one’ to grow old with, instead it’s become fluid in the way we approach dating expectations (let’s see where it goes), emotions (honest and authentic), and experiences (more activities than icebreakers, digital dating is here to stay). In true Gen Z style, they effortlessly juggle contradictions – at once seeking to broaden the scope of dating while narrowing down to find people nearby to date and also bringing a strong sense of urgency to take the plunge back into dating while making time for the small moments of affection.
Tinder’s Future of Dating Report revealed the following behaviour changes since the pandemic:
• 19% more messages were sent per day in Feb 2021, compared to Feb 2020.
• Conversations were 32% longer during the pandemic.
• 11% more Swipes and 42% more matches per Tinder member.
• Gen Z also turned to video chats. Nearly half of Tinder had a video chat with a match during the pandemic, and 40% plan to continue using video to get to know people even when the pandemic is over.
Future of Dating: Top Trends
#1: Daters will be more honest and authentic.
There’s nothing like a global pandemic to help put things in perspective. For Tinder users this meant being more truthful and vulnerable about who they are, how they look, and what they’re going through. People embraced authenticity and honesty with mentions of ‘anxiety’ and ‘normalise’ in bios growing during the pandemic (‘anxiety’ grew 31%; ‘normalise’ grew more than 15X).
#2: Boundaries will become more transparent
The pandemic brought up more discussions of personal boundaries. People used their bios to make their expectations clear: the phrase ‘wear a mask’ went up 100X over the course of the pandemic, ‘boundaries’ is being used more than ever (up 19%), while the term ‘consent’ rose by 11%. This emphasis on boundaries and expectations will make conversations about consent more commonplace and comfortable in the future.
#3: More people will want to “See where things go”
In a recent survey of Tinder users, the number of daters looking for ‘no particular type of relationship’ was up nearly 50%. So rather than the pandemic driving a desire for marriage, the next generation of daters will seek more open-ended relationships.
#4: Digital dates will remain part of the new normal.
As in-person contact became risky, daters turned to virtual experiences for human connection. And while it may have started out of necessity, the digital date is here to stay. According to a recent Tinder survey, those who tried a digital date see it as a low pressure way to get a sense for someone, while 40 percent of Gen Z Tinder users say they will continue to go on digital dates, even as date spots re-open.
#5: First dates will be more about activities than icebreakers.
With many bars and restaurants closed, many traditional first date venues were no longer an option. So when it came time to meet up, daters chose more creative, personal, and casual first date activities than in the past. For example, Tinder saw a 3X increase in mentions of ‘roller skating’ in bios and requests for date activities including fort building pop up in bios.
#6: Small touches will have a big impact.
2020 was the year we were all starved of human contact – especially our friends in Melbourne who were in the nation’s longest lockdown. It turns out Tinder users are using their bios to seek out physical affection like hand holding, cuddling, or someone to touch their hair: use of the word ‘cuddle’ grew 23%, and ‘hand holding’ is up 22%. After experiencing months without physical contact, daters have come to greatly appreciate the smallest moments of physical affection. So even when meet-ups become common, little physical gestures will play a more important role in people’s dating lives.
#7: People will always want to date someone close by.
Tinder’s geolocation, or ability to find someone nearby, was highly relevant for the rise in people moving due to the pandemic. Mentions of ‘moving’ in bios were up 28% in 2020. So while technology continues to enable people to live or work anywhere, they are still coming to Tinder to find someone who lives close to them.
#8: A ‘summer of love’ could be coming.
As of Oct 2020, more than 40% of Tinder users under the age of 30 had not met a match in person. But according to Tinder bios, that might be changing. “Go on a date” hit an all time high in bios in February 2021. And while people slowed down in-person dating in 2020 (54% of singles shared in YPulse’s Finding Love Post-COVID Trend Report that “Covid 19 has significantly delayed my love life”), they are ready to start getting out more as soon as vaccines (or antibodies) are in place.