The year 2020 rewrote the rules of dating, with online dating becoming hugely popular in small towns and villages, and women emerging as the most active user base. It now remains to be seen how the trends witnessed this year will impact the universe of online dating next year. While the pandemic might have significantly diminished opportunities for chance encounters and interactions with new people in our lives, the human connection has endured. Here are the new rules for 2021 for dating, hanging out and falling in love:
For Gen Z, online dating is dating: According to Tinder, the pandemic continues to dissolve the line between our digital and physical lives. Today, it would be hard to deny that ‘real-life’ is both physical and digital, with virtual birthdays, happy hours and video dates taking place. In the coming year, while the physical world won’t be replaced by digital experiences, our virtual life will continue to be meaningful and legitimate.
Dating itself will ramp up in early 2021, with 69% Bumble members planning to use dating apps just as much as they do now, if not more through Valentine’s Day 2021. On QuackQuack, the homegrown online dating app, the user chats this year itself increased from 350k to 500k per day. This will continue to see a growth, as will the number of users in tier 2 and 3 cities. Also, with continuing wariness about stepping out, people can be expected to spend more time on dating apps. Having said that, dating in-person is not yet off the table, with one in two people from the Bumble community in India claiming that they are ready to date in person.
Sharing moments online: This year, members took to Tinder to share 2020’s biggest cultural moments as a way to connect with each other. And this will continue in 2021 as well. Three noteworthy trends from the 2020 Year in Swipe report that signal how members will continue to meet new people online are: the importance of causes as shared values (mentions of climate change doubled in 2020 from 2019, ‘environment’ had highest mentions in 2019), shared real-time experiences (Dalgona coffee, bored in the house and banana bread had a high volume of mentions in members bios at the same time they became worldwide quarantine trends), Indian cultural moments (Rasode, Baba ka Dhaba, Ludo, gaming, Kasoor). It’s interesting to note that even on OkCupid, climate change is a topic close to the millennials’ hearts. The online dating platform is finding that people’s passion for the planet is becoming an important topic to bond over. It is a sign of the power of shared conversational common ground and how members hang out and date online in real-time.
Paying greater attention to your online profile: According to Bumble’s Dating 101 in 2021, a year-end guide to all things love during the pandemic, timing matters when navigating through an online dating app. For instance, the most popular time to be on Bumble in India is between 8 pm to 10 pm on Sunday evening. The more you share, the more you match, so go on and add badges about pets or your fitness routine. Also, make your boundaries and intentions clear from the start about the kind of dates you are comfortable with: virtual, socially-distanced or socially-distanced with masks.
Advodating or apolitical, what kind of dating is for you? In the past year, more than 340,000 people on OkCupid considered themselves activists, with young women leading this trend. In fact, women care more about their partner’s political leanings than men do, with 54% of the demographic preferring to match with partners who share their political beliefs. And overall, in India, 46% millennials consider themselves an advocate of important issues like LGBTQIA+ rights, equal gender roles, and more. This trend of daters looking for fellow advocates will only increase in 2021. According to OkCupid’s survey of the future of dating, while conversations around politics have seen an uptick in recent times, only time will tell if it will be a deal-breaker when it comes to dating for everyone around the world.
Speed-rooming to slow dating: Compatibility with potential partners has emerged as a very important factor for online dating platform users looking for love. This not just restricted to agreeing on issues of marriage, children and politics but has now extended to small day-to-day activities. According to the OkCupid survey, 89% of millennials all around the world agree that couples should live together before considering marriage. Yet another trend that has gained traction is that of slow dating, with people seeking deeper conversations online. In fact, 84% of people on OkCupid believe that an emotional connection needs to be established before a physical one. In India, 38% women confessed that they would like to take things slower and have more virtual interactions even in a post-pandemic world. This turn to meaningful relationships can be seen on QuackQuack as well, with users willing to go that extra mile to get to know each other, and engage with profiles for a considerable amoun time. There’s no longer a rush to head into dates and people are enjoying spending time from within the comfort of their homes to create stronger emotional bonds.