Staying indoors has helped the world heal from a devastating pandemic, but for our fellow singles, it’s also meant bidding adieu to their love lives for the good of the people.
Now, with a new year looming—and a grisly lockdown behind us—the desire to enjoy the fruits of our fully-vaccinated labor is warranted.
But what dating trends should we prepare to welcome (and avoid) in the new year? Well, scroll on.
Think you know your ‘type’? Think again. The dating platform prophesies that the next trend singles will be jumping on is ‘explori-dating’, which basically means exploring further horizons and dipping a toe in a pool of potentials you would never have explored before.
“For some people they have broadened their definition of what they are looking for,” McCart tells ELLE. “And others are making completely new choices when it comes to what they are looking for in a partner.
“One of the key findings in the research was that 57% of single people in Australia are now prioritizing emotional availability and 24% care less about a partner’s physical appearance than they did before the pandemic.”
But fret not, McCart considers this healthy behaviour, adding, “physical attraction is important but it’s not what makes you fall in love with someone, while being able to connect emotionally with your partner is what will build the foundations of a strong relationship.
“Don’t just go for the same old guy that you have always gone for—think outside the box and you may find your perfect match.”
Yes, many of us wish we could have fast-forwarded through the last two years. But for others, losing time in society only added to the pressure of finding their forever person.
In fact, Bumble reports that 29% of Australian users said that the pandemic drastically changed what qualities they looked for in a partner, while three in five (approximately 57%) now put emotional availability at the top of their list, and a quarter ( 24%) couldn’t care less about a partners’ physical appearance.
Now, there’s no denying that being single has its positives. And while never having to share dessert is a certified plus, there are other benefits to being single that will positively impact future relationships.
Spending much-needed time alone (especially for those less familiar with it) makes it significantly easier to work on self-confidence, master hobbies and gain independence. And almost half of Bumble users (47%) agree, understanding that there’s nothing wrong with being a party of one for the foreseeable future.
For those who enjoy a peu de deuxMcCart explains how it’s possible to have your cake and eat it too—as long as you know what to prioritize.
“Deciding that it is ok to be alone for a while doesn’t mean totally hitting the brakes on your dating life,” she says. “It’s about being happy with your single life and knowing that finding a partner doesn’t have to be your number one priority.
“Instead, it is about being mindful and intentional in how and when you date, and knowing that you are in control of your dating journey. This can also reduce some of the stress and anxiety that comes with dating and make the experience more fun and empowering!”
Wondering if you should embrace the single life? McCart is in your corner, explaining that time alone should be celebrated and “where you can make decisions with just yourself in mind, be spontaneous and live life for you.”
“This is a time for most people when a tremendous amount of personal growth occurs, and after the last 18 months we all deserve to relax and have fun,” she suggests.
“This doesn’t mean that you don’t put yourself out there during this time, or close yourself off to the idea of meeting someone, it just means that you are doing your own thing—and who knows, sometimes this is when someone that you never saw coming walks into your life.”
There’s no doubt that the past two years has made us think twice about physical affection, without a vaccination status and temperature check. But surprisingly, Bumble foresees PDA making a comeback in 2022. After all, we’ve been touch-deprived for two years, no?
Given that vaccination rates are increasing, the platform reports that more than two in three (65%) of Australian Bumble users are more open to public displays of affection post-pandemic, and Melbourne-based sexologist Chantelle Otten agrees.
“We’ve all been in and out of lockdown for so long now, with a lot of uncertainty,” she tells ELLE. “Single people in particular have really felt lonely during this time, and it’s been such a long road.”
“As we start to open up more I’ve noticed people are becoming more confident not only in themselves but doing things they haven’t ever done before. It’s great to see single Aussies exploring new things, that perhaps they may not have done pre -pandemic.
“It’s a sense of freedom combined with summer and excitement that has single Aussies ready to jump straight back into dating again.”
Around half (53%) of single Australians under the age of 50 all agree that virtual meetings have made them more conscious about their appearance. So, if a chat with a match seems to be living online instead than IRL, perhaps the Zoom Effect has your date feeling too spooked to meet face-to-face.
On top of the Zoom Effect, an impending summer season is seeing many feel even more self-conscious than ever before. According to Bumble, a further 63% of Australians felt pressure to get themselves into shape ahead of dating post-vaccination, while 56% felt anxious about the summer months and the need to have a ‘beach body’.
“I think one of the major factors is that we’ve been cooped up in our houses for months, staring at ourselves on video calls and not being as active as we usually would be,” Otten explains, adding, “teaming that with the horrible concept of ‘summer body’, has single Aussies in particular concerned about getting back out there and feeling good about themselves.
“Do something that makes you feel good about yourself every day like go for a walk with your girlfriends in the morning, or a late night gym session,” she suggests. “It’s so important that we all are kind to ourselves and don’t put too much pressure on what you look like.”
And last but not least, Bumble has seen a rise in those feeling too put off to put out canceling a date or social activity because of perpetual body image anxiety.
As per the dating app, two in five (38%) of single Australians have reportedly opted out of plans to meet up with potential friends or flames because of their lack of confidence, with half (49%) admitting that their body image anxiety has increased since the start of the pandemic.
Of course, there should be absolutely not pressure to dive into the dating pool. It’s important to nurture a relationship with yourself before trying to find one in another.
But for those who are ready to re-enter the dating sphere in 2022? Godspeed.