ince COVID’s unwelcome arrival in 2020, the rules of daily life have altered drastically, and dating is no exception. For centuries, dating has evolved - fathers no longer trade their daughters' hand in marriage for goats, teenage girls are no longer courted to the wealthiest man in town, and you no longer have to leave your home to find a potential partner.
Yet, the dating scene has never seen such rapid changes as in the past couple years. So, as we leave behind the toxic relationships of 2021, and look towards Valentines Day, and another year of the coronavirus, the pressing question is this: What are singles looking for in 2022?
Expert companies like Match, Hinge, and Bumble, among many others, have done the dirty work for us so that we don’t have to - we’re talking data. Their discoveries, in combination with recent policy changes and trends from earlier in the pandemic, have allowed us to forecast the love landscape of 2022. Provided here is the information necessary to guide you along the dating journey, should you choose to embark.
Casual Is So Last Season
Meaningful relationships are the goal of many people dating during the pandemic
Ironically, while living in a time where shared spaces pose a threat, closeness has become increasingly desirable. In their 11th year of conducting their “Singles in America” survey, Match revealed that most singles today are looking for meaningful relationships with emotional connection compared to the 11% that “want to date casually.” Similarly, more singles are looking to get married and ranking it of higher importance to them than ever before.
The switch from casual flings to intentional dating has been trending since the start of the pandemic, and this comes as no surprise. In 2020, at the cusp of devastating and unprecedented circumstances, together we wallowed in fear, alone. Not only is it easier to face troubling events with someone by your side, but psychiatrist and author Amy Banks, calls “connection the antidote of fear.” 2020 may have also brought about existential crisis after existential crisis, forcing many of us to re-evaluate our priorities to favor emotional connection over physical connection.
Do these trends mean that the love of your life who insisted on keeping things casual and just wasn’t “in the right place for a relationship” suddenly wants to commit, get married, and have your babies? Chances are, no. But, the odds are in your favor.
For those who always wanted a relationship, and those transitioning from Player to Romantic:
Embrace the change.
The shift in attitude among the dating world is in your favor. If you’ve given up on ever finding The One, now is your time to reconsider putting yourself out there. Make it clear as soon as you start talking that you are looking for a life partner, not just a sexual partner. It is important to communicate this both verbally, and non-verbally to avoid any confusion - and well, some people just cannot take a hint the first time around. What this means is that you explicitly say what you want out of your dating experience, and “take it slow.” It can be tempting to accelerate things physically if you find yourself interested on the first date, but take your time getting to know the other person. Hold off on sleepovers until you have established intimacy and breached the getting-to-know-you phase. While there is no shame in a first date hookup and it is possible for friends-with-benefits to turn into a relationship, it is better to steer away from these behaviors. For those who are new to intentional dating, this may be hard, but reminding yourself of why you changed in the first place helps. Remember that the risk of putting yourself out there is minimal compared to the potential of finding someone to share your life with. Most importantly, remember to have fun!
No Children, No Problem
During the pandemic, not wanting children may no longer be a dealbreaker
A global pandemic. A reckoning of racial inequality. A monumental election. An attack on the Capitol. Millions upon millions dead. Are you rethinking life? We don’t blame you. Are you rethinking bringing a child into the world? Match says yes. Going into 2022, 61% of singles under 40 are hoping to have kids compared to 80% in 2017. While this contradicts the increase in relationship and marriage seeking, this may be due to the increase in prioritizing mental health and physical health. After so much sacrifice and suffering, this may just be the year of self-care.
For those who want children, those who don’t, and those that don’t know:
It is in your best interest that you be upfront on a date, and the sooner the better. Pre-pandemic, when 80% of singles wanted children, it might have been difficult to disclose an aversion to having children in fear of being turned down. As the number of singles looking to start a family decreases, those of you wanting to have children may find themselves afraid to admit it. However, it is best to do this early on before the relationship has progressed too far, as self-disclosure will only become increasingly difficult with time. Keep in mind that some opinions about starting a family are based on the current climate of the nation, meaning they are flexible to future change. However, if your opinions about having children are fixed, make that clear. At the end of the day, you want to be someone who’s future plans and aspirations align with your own.
Therapy Is the New Six Pack
Singles dating during the pandemic want to talk about mental health
For anyone in the psychology field or with a keen interest in mental health, it may be a no-brainer that the pursuit of therapy is an admiral quality. Taking on a challenge as immense as becoming completely vulnerable, tackling demons, and confronting fears takes courage. However, you probably wouldn’t go on a date and say, “Hi, it’s nice to meet you. I’m in therapy. What is it that you do again?”
In fact, you may be hesitant to disclose this information until the relationship develops into something serious. Contrary to intuition, therapy has made its way onto the list of traits that singles are actively looking for this year. According to Hinge UK, if you mention on the first date that you go to therapy, you are more likely to make it to the second date. The app predicts that the topic of mental health within the dating world will age like fine wine - that is, it will only become more and more attractive. So, rest assured, if you're holding back sharing with a date that you attend therapy, the walls of stigmatization are collapsing in 2022.
If you don’t know how to tell the person you’re seeing that you go to therapy:
Let it come naturally.
If you're already striving for a deeper connection with someone, and you’re taking the aforementioned steps to get there, chances are the topic of how COVID-19 has impacted your lives, will come up naturally. At this point, you can slide into conversation the steps you are taking to get you through these trying times - therapy. There is no need to unload all of your past trauma and the intimate details of your life right away, as this will happen over time as you and your date build love maps - a term coined by psychologist John Gottman describing a map of your partner’s inner world. Instead, give them an introduction to you and let the relationship grow from there.
People are finding creative ways to relax and stay sane amid the chaos of the pandemic. Feel free to share this with the person you’re dating (chances are they will find it as a turn-on).
Sex is Good, But Have You Tried Long Talks?
As people long to escape “zoom world” and get back to the real world, dating singles crave longer lasting dates
Meeting your date for drinks? You might want to think about turning that night cap into morning mimosas. The truth is we’re all sick and tired of beating around the bush. The “talking” phase of dating tends to get drawn out, and you may feel that amid all of this talking you still don’t know the other person’s true intentions. At that point, you’re hooked enough to want to want to progress, but stuck in the shallow waters of a situationship. You may have even experienced the disappointment of going on a date or anticipating quality getting-to-know-you time, only to realize too late that you’re at a group event, or worse, it was only ever a booty call.
Well, 2022 is out to change this. According to predictions from dating app Badoo, singles are hungry for deeper connection so they’re looking for deep conversation, real-life meetups, and longer dates. 74% of Badoo daters want to see dates become longer than the 1-2 hour average in 2021. Keep this in mind as you embark on your next date - you may want to clear your whole day.
How to go from texting to in-peron dates (while staying COVID safe):
Because we are more often than not meeting people through dating apps, it can be easy to find yourself in an online relationship. One cheesy pickup line leads to an actual conversation and before you know it, you’re talking to this person everyday. But, instead of being on your phone all of the time imagining what they’re laugh sounds like and what they’re smile looks like, you could - and would rather - be with them in person. Face-to-face is not only more personable, but allows the relationship to flourish into something more. The longer you let yourself fall into a texting/facetiming relationship, the harder it is to dig yourself out. If you find yourself in this scenario, we suggest that you make a move and ask if they would be interested in going on a date. If you find that they are always telling you that you’ll do activities together and go on dates but it never seems to happen, you have two options: (1) be direct and ask them why they never follow through or, (2) move onto other options that seem more promising. Either way, you can’t go wrong.
Find common ground.
The pandemic has made the shift from online dating to intimate in-person dates complicated. To make it easier, we suggest asking them out on a date and following up with, “What would you be comfortable with?” Not only does this let them know that you care about their boundaries, but it opens the door for discussing what dating during the pandemic may look like for them. If one of you feels uncomfortable in crowded places, you can compromise with a picnic date. If your date expects you to keep your mask on the entire time, that is something that you need to know ahead of time. An added bonus of this conversation is that it allows you to find out whether you and your date’s views on preventative healthcare and healthcare protocol are compatible, a large factor in dating decisions these days.
I Ain’t Got No Type
The new normal during the pandemic seems to be dating people you normally wouldn’t date
Dating app Badoo found that as 2022 singles become more determined to hold tightly to their personal needs and romantic needs, they are letting go of their “type.” Considering Match's finding that physical attractiveness is decreasing in importance to dating singles, it makes sense to abandon the type altogether. The perk of doing so is that suddenly dating apps appear fully stocked, and you may find yourself pleasantly surprised by what you find. If you’ve dated your “type” and continuously encountered the same problem, thoughtfully dating outside your type may be particularly beneficial, advises Badoo’s Global Dating Expert. As the cliché goes, if you keep getting your heart broken by “bad boys,” try dating the Sheldon Coopers and Mark Zuckerberg's of the world.
How to get past your type to open up your dating pool:
Close your eyes.
Okay, not literally. But, when it comes to finding a person to share yourself and your life with, the most important thing is personality. As cheesy as it may seem, when you find someone who makes you feel a certain way inside, you will find that the superficial qualities are trivial. That is not to say that sex appeal doesn’t matter, but when you fall in love with someone for their personality, the rest often falls in place. So, if you’re used to pursuing people that look a particular way, take notes from Netlifx’s Love Is Blind or inspiration from odd celebrity pairings like Kim K. and Pete Davidson, or Megan Fox and MGK.
Why should you care?
The pandemic isn’t going anywhere and neither is dating. Boosters and treatment pills have recently been developed to adapt to our “new normal,” and similarly the dating scene has seen advancements to adjust to the pandemic. At a time with so many new developments, it may be troubling to try to keep up, and you may find yourself stuck in the past. Our advice is this: welcome it. The silver lining to what has been a grueling two years is human connection, and it is readily available if you seek it.