Bumble, the dating app that claims to empower women by putting them in control of their interactions, believes that, post-pandemic, dating will never be the same again. They identified a period of “hardballing”, which emerged at the end of last year, and is a term for really knowing what you want, after months of reflection. For example, globally, two in three people say they are now prioritising emotional availability, and almost a quarter say they care less about appearances.
It means demanding more from dating culture, and trying at the very least, to reclaim some fun and joy, in the pursuit of love
Likewise, according to dating psychologist Madeleine Mason Roantree, one of the positives of the pandemic has been the realisation that meaningful connections are important, and how “one-nights stands as a default dating ‘strategy’ are ultimately not satisfying”.
Bumble identified a growing trend for being consciously single, saying: “We’ve all heard of ‘conscious uncoupling’ but 2022 is all about finding that someone, not just anyone. The pandemic has made half of us (53 per cent) realise that it’s actually OK to be alone for a while. Looking ahead, people are consciously making a decision to be single, with the majority of singletons being more mindful and intentional in how, and when, they date.”
Psychotherapist Katerina Georgiou adds: “More people than ever are happily living their lives independently and this is something to celebrate.” Even Kim Kardashian – in the throes of divorce from Kanye West – told Vogue that she is now unashamedly “choosing herself”.
“Online there is something called the disinhibition effect, which means people are more likely to open up, and share more than they normally would in person,” she explains.
She recommends seeking our groups and safe spaces, to talk things through with other women, in a similar situation. If the pandemic has reminded us of our shared collective experience, Georgiou adds that cultivating a sense of solidarity, belonging and community within the dating space, can make the whole experience easier.
She adds: “It can be helpful knowing that so many of your peers in the same boat are probably feeling very similar to you. It can be so empowering, and relieving, to be honest with each other about that, and remove the element of performance out of dating.”
Following the crushing disappointment of the so-called “hot vax summer” (which, much like the British weather, was an almighty flop), and with one-night stands now a vintage relic of the “before times”, dating has long been due a do-over. But is it any wonder, that after months of Covid curbs, and a life lived solely online, singles are daring for something different?
The new dating rulebook values quality over quantity – which in some cases, means eschewing dating altogether, and feeling self-assured enough to do so. It means using dating apps with a heavy dose of realism, prioritising your own mental health and happiness – half-hearted situationships, and luke-warm love affairs, be damned – and calling out bad behaviour.
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One thing is for sure, as La observes: “The pandemic showed us the value and importance of human connection, solidarity and love. It showed us that life is short and that anything can happen. Lots of people have been more motivated to socialise more and develop richer connections as a result.”