The last few years have been a whirlwind in general, and certainly in dating. Major events have impacted how singles feel and act, from COVID to the overturning of Roe v. Wade. Here are top eight dating trends of 2022, including virtual and inflation-conscious dating.
Saving time and money with Zoom
During the worst of the pandemic, some people opted only for virtual dates — say, hopping on Zoom or chatting on the phone with a dating app match. This year was no different, with virtual dating still a dominant trend. As dating coach and eharmony relationship expert Laurel House told Mashable back in June, “people are much more protective…of their time” now.
Virtual dates make first dates even lower stakes. Not only do they save time and money (commuting, food and drinks), but it serves daters as a gauge over whether they actually want to meet someone in person. Especially given inflation, they’re not going anywhere.
Finding love amid inflation
Cost hikes hit the dating scene in 2022, just as they impact every other aspect of our lives. The top three stressors for singles today are finance-related according to Singles in America, an annual study of over 5,000 single people in the U.S. conducted by Match. Thirty-nine percent are most stressed about the economy; 37 percent about their long-term financial future; and 36 percent on the effects of inflation.
Other data reveals much of the same. According to eharmony’s end-of-year and 2023 dating trends, 47 percent have passed on a date due to their personal financial situation. Those numbers jump to 62 percent of millennials and 64 percent of Gen Z respondents, the youngest of daters. Eharmony interviewed a nationally representative sample of over 900 single U.S.-based adults 18 and older.
It’s clear that as we move into 2023, dating costs are at the top of some people’s minds. In data collected by OkCupid this year, most — 54 percent of respondents — said they want to spend $50 or less on their first date. Bumble predicts that next year, “cash candid dating” — increased transparency over finances in the early stages of dating — will be all the rage.
Politics more important than ever
Inflation isn’t the only macro news we’re seeing reverberations in dating. Political polarization in the U.S. has increased in the last few years, and it’s no doubt affected how singles interact. Dealbreakers abound: being a Republican is a dealbreaker for 33 percent of singles, according to Singles in America, while 23 percent see being a Democrat as a dealbreaker. Those numbers were 11 percent and 6 percent, respectively, in 2017.
Meanwhile, 31 percent say not having an opinion on key issues is a dealbreaker; that statistic is up from 16 percent in 2017, a sign of increased political awareness.
The Roe v. Wade reversal in particular has changed people’s behavior. A whopping 78 percent of singles of reproductive age said the SCOTUS decision changed their sex life, according to Singles in America. This includes being more worried about pregnancy and talking to their partners more about condom use.
Meanwhile, just like there are single-issue voters, some daters are taking a stance about one issue: the climate emergency. Green dating has emerged to mean searching for a fellow eco-conscious partner.
Zoning in on priorities
Earlier this year, dating expert House identified the trend of “prioridating”: a shift from wanting a laundry list of superficial qualities, to zeroing in on what matters most.
OkCupid’s global head of communications, Michael Kaye, said the same in June: “What was important to us two, three years ago simply isn’t anymore,” he said. “Many [daters] are looking for someone who inspires them to be their best selves.”
The top dating priorities both this and next year are finding someone the dater can be their full self with (66 percent); friendship (65 percent); and having fun (64 percent), eharmony’s data found.
Young people are included in this trend. Seventy-three of Tinder’s surveyed young singles, across all genders, said they were looking for someone who is clear about what they want (and has good hygiene).
Show your vulnerable side
Since 2020, daters have opened up to each other in an unprecedented way. Small talk was replaced by deep conversations during the pandemic. This increase in vulnerability has persisted through this year, and has influenced what people want out of their dates.
Singles in America identified a “new triple threat” of therapy, self-care, and emotional maturity. Eighty-seven percent of respondents said it’s very important for their partner to prioritize their mental health, and 81 percent report they engage in self-care at least monthly.
On OkCupid, nearly 1.6 million users said mental health is as important as physical health, and are looking for a partner who thinks the same. Seventy-three percent said that having discussions about mental health is important, and they’re open to talking about it with their partner.
Set your boundaries
In addition to being increasingly aware of mental health, daters also learned more about what makes relationships healthy or toxic. On top of self-care and therapy, boundaries were another emerging topic of conversation. On OkCupid, people who vouched for healthy boundaries are having 51 percent more conversations and get 68 percent more likes than those who don’t.
Bumble predicts that setting boundaries will be an even bigger trend in 2023. According to a survey of 14,300 Bumble users worldwide, 63 percent of daters say they’re clearer about emotional needs and boundaries, and 59 percent are more thoughtful and intentional about how they put themselves out there.
Men, in particular, have grown more self-aware. Seventy-four percent of men surveyed by Bumble say they’ve looked inward and analyzed their own behavior more than ever, and have a clearer understanding of toxic masculinity.
People even expressed their awareness with emojis: Red flag (🚩) and “gaslighting” (fog 🌫) emojis trended among Tinder’s young singles.
Sober (curious) dating
Sober or sober curious dating has been a trend all of this year, and it makes sense why: With an increase in alcohol consumption over the pandemic, people have been reflecting on their use and changing their habits. (“Sober curiosity” is trying out sobriety without committing to it.)
In Tinder’s Year in Swipe, a survey of users aged 18-25, 25 percent said they drank less on dates in 2022 compared to 2021. On their profiles, 72 percent of young singles on Tinder said they don’t drink or only drink occasionally on their profiles. The use of beer and wine emojis decreased (40 and 25 percent respectively) in Tinder profiles from 2021 to 2022.
How to date while sober (curious)
Nearly all — 96 percent — of OkCupid respondents said they were open to dating someone who doesn’t drink alcohol, compared to 84 percent ten years ago in 2012.
Openness (and open relationships)
An increased openness — in multiple areas — has been burgeoning since 2021, where sexual exploration has been on the rise.
Young singles on Tinder are open to situationships, or relationships that are not quite serious and not quite hookups. Furthermore, open relationships are also becoming more acceptable. Thirty percent of singles on OkCupid — around 8.5 million singles — said they’d be interested in such a relationship. The dating app Hinge embraced different relationship styles by adding labels for monogamy and nonmonogamy.
More openness doesn’t just translate into nonmonogamy, though. According to Bumble, one in three people are now more open to dating people beyond their “type.” Almost half of singles (49 percent) surveyed by Singles in America have fallen in love with someone they weren’t initially attracted to; this is the highest it’s been in a decade, up from 38 percent in 2012.
Along with prioridating, this signals that daters are caring more about potential partners’ values over their looks. Here’s to more awareness and vulnerability in 2023.