Let’s admit it, navigating love lives during a global pandemic isn’t easy. As singletons freed up storage space to experiment with various dating apps, couples scrambled to maintain their socially-distanced relationships—relying on virtual dates until “this too shall pass.” But what if these efforts were just a temporary sacrifice of physical contact no one wants to experience again? More so, what if we shift into a post-pandemic era where long-distance relationships go extinct and we let Tinder’s geolocation feature dictate our love lives instead?
Over the pandemic, slow dating and turbo relationships have undoubtedly become the dalgona coffee and sourdough bread of the dating industry. As potential couples took their own sweet time to get to know each other and create a deep connection before taking things to the next level, others were quick to ‘turbocharge’ their relationships and move in together quickly than they originally intended to.
These two contrasting trends have essentially redefined dating over the pandemic—with a collective focus on building meaningful relationships with intimacy, be it digital or real-time. Backed with a new report by eharmony and Relate, which found over a third of newly-minted couples believe in the fact that “the past two months feel equivalent to two years of commitment,” these trends have been proven to make couples feel more committed to each other and believe in long-term relationships.
“It’s been a really positive experience because they’ve reached milestones like getting to know the other person’s interests and developing their sexual relationship to quite a sophisticated level,” explained Peter Saddington, a counsellor working for Relate in an interview with Cosmopolitan. “They’ve reached the stage where they talk endlessly to each other about their family and past experiences.”
While the pandemic-accelerated popularity of turbocharged relationships leaves no hopes for long-distance ones, what is the foreseeable future of slow dating? How will this digital trend translate in a post-pandemic era?
While slow dating seems to be the perfect tool to foster digital intimacy, the impact of 2020’s touch deprivation is slowly showing up on dating apps as users increasingly seek out the “most innocent types of physical contact.”
In a report by Tinder, the platform highlights a spike in users leveraging their bios to seek out affection like hand-holding, cuddling or caressing. Use of the word ‘cuddle’ grew by 23 per cent while ‘hand holding’ is up by 22 per cent. After months of touch deprivation, it so seems that users have come to greatly appreciate these gestures of affection. “Even when meet-ups become common, little physical gestures will play a more important role in people’s dating lives,” the report concluded.
Along with small touches having a big impact on the post-pandemic dating scene, the platform also reports a rise in mentions of physical activities on first dates rather than icebreakers. The report states a 3 times increase in mentions of ‘rollerskating’ along with requests for date activities from fort building to snowball fights in bios.
“When it comes to meet-ups, daters will choose more creative, intimate yet casual first date activities than in the past,” the report read. “This trend towards activity-based first dates that skip the small talk will shape the next decade of dating. Daters will pick more interesting, unique first date activities that help them really get to know each other.”
This begs the question: even though there are studies which suggests that long-distance relationships “can have just as much intimacy, high-quality communication and satisfaction as geographically close relationships,” how much of this concept has held up over the past year and what seems to be the way forward as we increasingly embrace a post-pandemic era?
For many dating app users, 2020 came with a coronavirus-prompted move. While some headed to new cities, others moved back in with their families. According to Pew Research Center, 52 per cent of young adults were living with a parent in July 2020, the highest rate in decades.
As a result, mentions of ‘moving’ in bios were up 28 per cent on Tinder with the app’s geolocation feature becoming highly relevant due to the pandemic moving boom. “Soon after people moved, they came to Tinder to meet people in their new city,” the report outlined.
Making up for 2020’s isolation and touch deprivation coupled with viral terms like ‘apocalypsing’ (treating every relationship like it’s your last post-pandemic) and ‘maskerading’ (fronting that you care about COVID-19 safety precautions for optics or to impress your crush), one fact stands clear: there won’t be a much-anticipated surge in long-distance relationships post-pandemic.
Instead, we would embrace an authentic dating scene—one where boundaries are more transparent and digital activities become part of the new normal as we seek out others around the corner, no matter where we live.
2020 has been a hot mess. From the rise of political movements such as Black Lives Matter taking centre stage to communities coming together to clap for the NHS and supporting Captain Tom, this year was unlike any before to say the least. But the worldwide house arrest didn’t stop us from meeting new crushes, on the contrary, it opened up new ways to date and led to an increase in conversations length with matches on dating apps. Here’s what Tinder’s 2020 Year in Swipe reveals about our dating habits this year and the top dating trends that resulted from it.
When the Dolly Parton challenge became an overnight sensation, Tinder members got involved too, with 26 per cent more mentions of the iconic country singer in bios in January than six months later. On a less glamorous note, Dominic Cummings also made an appearance on Tinder peaking in bios mentions in May, with lines such as: ‘It’s a long drive to Barnard Castle, who’s Cumming with me?’ after his infamous (and illegal) trip.
Other celebrities such as Kanye West, Meghan Markle, Prince Harry, Boris Johnson, Captain Sir Tom Moore, David Attenborough, Joe Exotic and Carole Baskin were trending on Tinder bios this year for different reasons.
With both our usual on-screen entertainment, Love Island, and the on-stage crowd-pleaser, Glastonbury, being called off in March, there were four times more mentions of ‘cancelled’ in bios, compared to the month before. As a result, when the Eat Out To Help Out scheme launched in August, Tinder users all over the UK embraced it and mentioned it in their bios.
Brits not only clapped every Thursday for frontline workers, but also celebrated them in their Tinder bios, with 122 per cent more mentions of the ‘NHS’ in May than at the beginning of the year, the noise could be heard loud and clear on Tinder too.
Mentions of Black Lives Matter grew by 55 times in 2020, exceeding use of the term ‘hook-up’ by years’ end. Starting in June, Tinder quickly filled with bios that said things like ‘How much do I need to say this? Pineapple on pizza is a must, climate change is real and Black Lives really do Matter’.
Mentions of ‘quarantine & chill’ took off in March, as lockdown woes inspired creative one-liners in the spirit of ‘Let’s be like covid and catch each other’ or ‘Wash your hands so you can hold mine’.
One Tinder enthusiast, Ellie, shared that “Lockdown made me really reassess what I am looking for in a match. Opening lines could be absolute deal-breakers for me. While I did virtually date, I’m excited to get back to real dates as I feel like I bounce off someone more in person. Bring on the 🍷 emoji, so I know you’re up for drinks (outdoors of course).”
Tinder users were ready to mask up and meet up, with mask mentions up nearly ten times in 2020 and ‘wear a mask’ mentioned five times more in July than June, inspiring bios such as ‘Who’s down to meet in the park with masks on?’ and ‘Masks on during sex’. Just make sure you know how to put it on because some users sent warnings such as ‘If your mask is around your chin IDFWU’.
Dating creativity peaked as people were forced to skip dates in bars in favour of Animal Crossing islands. Mentions of the game peaked in May, during which members may have come across bios such as ‘What if we met up to watch the sunset….on my Animal Crossing island. Not kidding.’
Tinder user Aaron told Screen Shot, “Dating virtually was a totally new experience for me and as we were all in the same boat, there was an instant shared connection. Animal Crossing also kept me entertained while at home, and mentions of it in Tinder bios became part of my match criteria. What can I say, I just wanted someone to help me build my island while we couldn’t go for drinks in a bar.”
TikTok videos on Tinder became a way for users to share taste by asking matches to send some all-time favourite TikToks as well as a way to show off their moves by sharing TikToks they’d made themselves. Some Tinder users even bragged that they’re ‘TikTok famous’. TikTok mentions grew by eight times in 2020 and peaked in May more precisely.
Unsure at pretty much every moment of this year, Tinder users shared a collective 🤷. Users showed their support for the Black Lives Matter movement by including 🖤 and ✊🏿 in their bios. United in a clap for our careers, Tinder members shined a 🌈 to say thank you to the NHS. Meanwhile, sourdough baking 🍞 and supermarket shopping 🛒 were the highlight of many during lockdown. Users missed out on graduations 🎓 but they found a way to celebrate from home instead 🍷. Finally, mask-wearing 😷 became the ultimate deal-breaker for dating in 2020.
‘Blinding Lights’ – The Weekend
‘The Box’ – Roddy Ricch
‘ROCKSTAR’ (feat. Roddy Ricch) – DaBaby
‘Life Is Good’ (feat. Drake) – Future
‘WAP’ (feat. Megan Thee Stallion) – Cardi B
‘Toosie Slide’ – Drake
‘Roses’ (Imanbek Remix) – SAINt JHN
‘Godzilla’ (feat. Juice WRLD) – Eminem
‘For The Night’ (feat. Lil Baby & DaBaby) – Pop Smoke
‘Dreams’ (2004 Remaster) – Fleetwood Mac