On 8 March 2023, the world celebrated International Women’s Day (IWD). Customarily, Instagram was flooded with collages of female friendship groups celebrating one another while sipping mimosas. Over on Twitter, netizens used their voices to chastise the United Nations (UN) for its lack of gender equality and, quite rightly, call upon governmental bodies to prioritise the safety, well-being and protection of oppressed women across the globe.
IWD is a complex event. It’s a day where we need to reaffirm and refocus our energies towards fighting for the rights of all women (including anyone who might identify as such). It’s also a day where we should take time to celebrate the achievements of women, and shout out those who’ve championed us along the way.
One company that’s put the rights of women at the forefront of its ethos is dating app titan Bumble. From pushing for the criminalisation of cyberflashing in England and Wales, to providing aid for any female employees seeking abortions following the devastating Roe v. Wade overturning, Bumble has always prioritised the experience of both its female employees and app users.
One of the only apps that places women solely in charge of any potential match-making, Bumble has also played an integral role in understanding the dating habits, wants and needs of gen Zers. Our generation are some of the most politically-minded and social justice-oriented cohorts ever, and our romantic lives need to reflect that.
So, with all this in mind, I—eager to celebrate the day any way that I could—headed to a Bumble IWD-themed dating event with our TikTok Creative Social Media Editor in tow, to see some action play out in real life, gaze upon singles mingle, and sample as many free Margaritas that I could get my hands on.
Aptly titled ‘Bumble: IRL’, the in-person events are geared towards taking online flirtation to the next level, all while making sure that the women are still in control of the situation. The event I attended was being held at Shoreditch’s Old Street Records, a cosy bar which acted as the perfect spot for a potential meet-cute.
After the COVID-19 pandemic, and the copious national lockdowns that followed, it’s always nice to see a crowded room, hands touching rather than recoiling. And, what was evident from the event—and indeed the insights later shared by Bumble—was that gen Z are truly redefining what it means to date in 2023. We might be an anxious-ridden group, but we definitely have high hopes for our romantic futures.
According to the dating app, gen Z are particularly optimistic about dating this year, with 73 per cent of gen Zers “seizing the date” and stating that they’re excited about any romance that might lie ahead. The team shared with SCREENSHOT: “Younger generations are casting aside outdated romantic norms, joining the 89 per cent of women in the UK comfortable with making the first move and asking someone on a first date.”
Moreover, while the whole ‘main character energy’ concept might just feel like a cringeworthy symptom of TikTok culture, it’s definitely rubbing off on young singles at the moment, with 43 per cent of gen Z Bumble users feeling more motivated to go after what they want when it comes to romance after the past two years.
And it makes sense why so many dating apps are now pursuing IRL events as gen Z singles have no issues shying away from tackling dating head on. Supposedly, ‘hardballing’ (ie. not messing around when it comes to your love life) has taken a front seat, with more than 52 per cent of gen Zers globally stating they are much clearer with partners from the start about what they want from a relationship, and 85 per cent saying that being honest and upfront is the most important thing in a relationship.
Also, not to flex too much, but studies have categorically shown that gen Z are the queerest generation of all time. So, ensuring that dating apps are user friendly no matter how you identity is another absolute must.
Dating can be a hellish experience at times, but knowing that your fellow gen Zers are going to be approaching romance with an open-mind—and a bag full to the brim with green flags—is always a comforting notion.
Events like the Bumble IRL series can prove to be the perfect opportunity for those of us who’ve become far too content being cooped up at home, to step out of our comfort zones and try something new. Oh, and if you change your mind at the last minute, there’s always the equally valid option of an early night and a Deliveroo. It’s your choice.
When it comes to dating, the devil—aka that supposed ‘pro-surfer’ who chatted to you for weeks, met your mum over FaceTime, and then ditched midway through a round of appetisers—works hard, but Bumble works harder. The year is almost over, and while questionable online habits such as winter coating and reverse catfishing lay to waste in the graveyard of 2022, a new horizon is approaching, filled to the brim with fresh dating trends geared towards us, the most chaotic yet purposeful and diverse cohort to date: gen Z.
Bumble gathered this data by conducting internal polling from 12 October to 1 November 2022 using a sample of 14,300 users from around the world.
So, with the women-first dating app’s forecasts fresh and warm in my hands, let me take you on a journey to explore and explain three of the most gen Z-orientated trends set to dominate our romantic lives in 2023.
Bumble has an extensive history of championing progressive and healthy habits when it comes to our swiping and liking habits. Both its zero-tolerance for ghosting as well as its participation in the fight against cyberflashing clearly shines a light on the company prioritising the promotion of constructive and safe online connections.
This latest trend is no different. SCREENSHOT was lucky enough to sneak a peak, and when we heard about ‘Ethical sex-ploration’, our ears pricked up. As Bumble explains, “The way that we are talking, thinking about, and having sex is changing.” According to the app’s data, 42 per cent of us are approaching sex, intimacy, and dating in an open and exploratory way, and sex is no longer taboo. In fact, more than half of the daters surveyed agreed that it’s important to discuss sexual wants and needs early on in a relationship.
Over the past year, 20 per cent have explored their sexuality more, and 14 per cent are considering a non-monogamous relationship. It’s true that gen Z is the queerest generation yet—according to LGBTQIA-focused publication Them, the current self-diagnosing TikTok scrollers and Y2K obsessives are inherently far more comfortable exploring their sexualities and gender than previous groups. Surveys have recently shown that 15.9 per cent of gen Zers would describe themselves as queer or transgender.
Bumble has spotted a clear shift among young daters who are seeking the same sexual diversity and inclusion that they see in the world, reflected in the apps they use to find meaningful romantic connections. Relationship practices such as polyamory or solo polyamory have gained massive traction among young adults who’ve begun to seek partnerships outside of the binary monogamous format.
This diversity also includes people who aren’t seeking sex, which is an equally valid path to follow. Bumble also told us that from the data it has analysed, 34 per cent people are not currently having sex and are completely okay with it.
First time dating app users—this one’s for you. Some may glance at the name of this 2023 trend and picture a slideshow of prospective partners donning corsets, puffed sleeves, feathers and ruffles. However, this particular renaissance is far more exciting and involves far less fanciful clothing.
Bumble’s data has picked up a rather interesting pattern, the fact that 39 per cent of the users on the popular app have ended a marriage or serious relationship in the last two years. It seems these newly singles are jumping into their second chapter with 36 per cent reportedly using dating apps for the first time.
So, if you’ve found yourself in a slump, still longingly holding onto photo booth reels and that one shared jumper, push away the kleenex and head over to a dating app which might help you pour some spice back into your life. Oh, and while scrolling, why not also fall back in love with Beyoncé’s magnetic house album, Renaissance.
Diving head first into these apps can be intimidating, so make sure to also take your time navigating these deep waters—and remember, not all fish are sharks! Although, you can always keep guardrailing (another one of the company’s 2023 trends) in mind, which states that establishing regular emotional boundaries should always be the top priority.
On Bumble, 85 per cent of users are looking for a long term relationship, so if you’re just hunting for a casual thing, maybe head elsewhere.
Gen Zers are praised by some and criticised by others (boomers) for their relentless pursuit of diversity, inclusion and freedom of expression. We’re unwavering in our fight for progressive politics and we’re not shy about it—not very snowflake of us, hm? Well, it would make sense then that gen Zers who are romantically or sexually interested in men are looking for shared perspectives. And it turns out, they might be in luck.
Bumble’s third forecasted dating trend is ‘New Year, New Me(n)’. According to the app, conversations about gender norms and expectations have been front and centre. Over the last year, 74 per cent of men say they have examined their behaviour more than ever and have a clearer understanding of toxic masculinity and what is not acceptable.
It should be noted that there have been various debates about the validity of toxic masculinity and whether or not as a concept it actually helps to educate boys and men. The Atlantic, for example, noted in 2019: “The concept of toxic masculinity encourages an assumption that the causes of male violence and other social problems are the same everywhere, and therefore, that the solutions are the same as well. While themes of violence, entitlement, and sexism recur across communities, they show up differently in different places.”
This comment encourages us to consider some of the nuances when it comes to tackling these issues—maybe dating apps are a good place to start? Bumble has identified a clear positive shift among male users of its app. Defying traditional romantic norms has an abundance of benefits for all those involved, from avoiding awkward conversations to preventing gender-based violence.
From surveying its users, the app found that more than 52 per cent are actively challenging stereotypes that suggest that men should not show emotions. On top of that, 38 per cent now speak more openly about their emotions with their male friends, and 49 per cent of men agree that breaking gender roles in dating and relationships is beneficial for them too.
And with so many more men taking the time to be proactive and prioritise relearning when it comes to these societal issues, maybe users could also partake in another popular dating forecast, ‘Open Casting’. Ditch the ‘tall, dark and handsome’ taglines and see what else is out there, you might surprise yourself.
So, there we have it, Bumble has bequeathed us with some of the freshest dating trends which could even persuade the most TikTok-obsessed gen Zer to shift their interest from golden retriever content to finding love online.