We've moved on from the "hook-up era": Dating Trends During the Pandemic

We've moved on from the "hook-up era": Dating Trends During the Pandemic

We've moved on from the "hook-up era": Dating Trends During the Pandemic_ ichhori.com


Some of the changes recorded by dating apps include appreciation for more safety features for everyone, but especially the queer community, a focus on connection, and video calls prior to meets.


If, like me, you've been using dating apps for a while, you'd agree that there used to be some dating rules. In the traditionalist world of dating, some courtesies were observed—taking it slow, engaging in engaging conversations, checking in on each other, and so on. Though these courtesies remained unregistered on some apps, such as Grindr, if not all, in 2020, when the pandemic broke out, experiencing intimacy and forging relationships on dating apps changed, as did everything else.


While The Guardian claims that the "unspoken rules of dating have gone out the window," Tinder claims that Generation Z was already "redefining the rules of dating prior to the pandemic."


What were the ‘standards' prior to the pandemic? And what caused them to change? Can these changes be reversed? Are some old-fashioned dating concepts making a comeback?


Dating trends: Tinder’s global findings

According to Taru Kapoor, General Manager, India, Tinder and Match Group, Gen Z, the app's majority users, have "set their own pace and [they] make their own rules about love, dating, life, and everything in between," rather than allowing the pandemic to redefine "dating, flirting, and social discovery."


This claim is supported by Tinder's 2020 report. It reveals that the word "boundaries" appeared more frequently (up 19 percent) in Tinder bios, as well as a "2X increase in mentions of 'long walks.'" Most first dates involved "activities rather than icebreakers," and half of Gen Z members video chatted with their matches before meeting during the pandemic. This is unlikely to change, according to Kapoor, because those who "tried digital dates saw it as a low-pressure way to get a sense of someone, and 40% of Gen Z Tinder members say they plan to continue using video chat."



Meanwhile, in response to the pandemic, Tinder made its Passport feature, which allows anyone from anywhere in the world to match, free in April 2020, assisting the organisation in registering 1.4 billion matches in a single day, breaking their previous record of 55 million. It also added "Passions, Prompts, and Vibes" and "Swipe Night" experiences, allowing you to match with others based on the choices you make.


People know what they want

In general, people have always known what they want. It's a matter of providing them with the app that allows them to be, says entrepreneur Sunali Aggarwal, who built and launched As You Are (AYA) in the midst of the pandemic, specifically for India's queer population.


Though it was not strategically planned to be launched during the pandemic, Aggarwal anticipated a growing need for people to have a "network of people or friends with whom you can be yourself, online." She goes on to say that as the world became more closed down and people were forced to be with each other—some reluctantly, others forcefully—this gained acceptance, costing them their personal space. According to Aggrawal, this changed the dynamics of relationships, and people who didn't already have meaningful connections felt compelled to "have a long-term relationship now." This is, interestingly, one of the findings of Match.com's annual survey "Singles in America."


"With a focus on stability, casual sex has become a lower priority for singles than in the past, with more [58 percent of app daters] focusing on emotional connection," according to the study, which is now in its 11th year. And, according to Justin Garcia, executive director of Kinsey Institute, this is not a "temporary blip." He observes that the "hook-up era" has passed, and that "people are now focusing on intentional relationship-building in the present and into the future."


Ellen Lamont, an Appalachian State University sociology professor and author of The Mating Game: How Gender Still Shapes How We Date, observes that "people got lonely and had this period of time [the pandemic] where they reassessed their priorities and what they really wanted from relationships."


This is why Aggarwal believes that "just looks" will no longer suffice on dating apps. "People are becoming more careful with their partner selection" than ever before, she claims. As a result, she was convinced that a no-pressure dating app like AYA was desperately needed in the market.


Just looks won’t do... People are becoming more careful with their choice of partners. - SUNALI AGGARWAL, FOUNDER OF THE AS YOU ARE (AYA) DATING APP FOR INDIA'S QUEER POPULATION


How to make dating apps safer?

While some people are more vulnerable than others, going online to find love has its own set of drawbacks for everyone. It has an impact on their mental health, and if left unchecked, it has the potential to turn them off the online space, further isolate them, and/or increase their anxiety about finding 'the one.'


According to Tinder's Kapoor, increasing safety has been a major concern over the years. "When LGBTQ+ members travel IRL (in real life) or use Tinder's Passport feature to swipe in a country with laws that penalise their community, they are alerted via our safety feature —Traveller Alert, a feature designed to protect and inform members of the LGBTQ community from the inherent risk of using dating apps in the nearly 70 countries that still have discrimination against their community," Kapoor says.


Sharing a slew of safety features introduced by the app—photo verification, Consent 101, and blocking contacts—to "reduce anonymity, increase accountability," Kapoor adds that Tinder launched "a dedicated in-app Safety Centre for India that centralises dating safety tips and offers resources with local NGOs relevant to members' well-being." A one-of-a-kind and desperately needed support system.


Tinder not only uses restrictive measures to keep queer people safe, but it has also increased engagement and socialised the "many moods, experiences, and complexities of queer dating" by launching the Museum of Queer Swipe Stories in collaboration with the Gaysi Family. In collaboration with Gaysi Family and Little Black Book, it strengthened its commitment to queer people by launching Queer Made—"a platform for LGBQTIA+ entrepreneurs and business owners to support and amplify business and products made, owned, and/or run by India's LGBTQIA+ community."


Despite the fact that representatives from only two dating apps—one established and one newly developed—agreed to share their perspectives, their findings and business goals were nearly identical. With hook-ups and casual sex gone, but not entirely, it remains to be seen what the future holds for dating—pandemic or no pandemic.


Previous Post Next Post