Love Life After Lockdown.

Selene

Love Life After Lockdown

In under a week, British Summer Time begins. Summer! The nights get longer, the days get warmer and everyone just feels good. But how will Coronavirus affect summer 2021? More importantly, what does it mean for dating?

The UK vaccination programme is well underway and it is the only thing giving us a glimmer of hope currently. The UK is now targeting to administer 32 million first doses by mid-April and have all adults vaccinated by 31 July. Could this mean we get the summer I know we are all desperate for?

 

It has officially been one year since we went into lockdown, the first time. In that year, singletons have been forced to make many sacrifices. Changes have been made to ‘5-year plans’ by some and the hope to be married by 30 may be out the window for others. The pandemic has forced people to stop dating traditionally, whether they like it or not. It has been quite the year of adjustments. Singles have sacrificed bar dates and one night stands and settled for socially distanced park walks and kiss-less first dates.

Of course, dating did not stop completely during the pandemic. In fact, dating apps saw a huge increase in users. Apps began introducing pandemic-appropriate dating methods, including the video chat option. The use of online dating is not a total shock however as online dating was already the number one way that people in the USA were meeting. People have fallen in love through a screen for years, pre-pandemic. Are these trends set to continue?

Pandemic Dating Trends

The pandemic's impact on dating will most likely continue into next year, OkCupid predicts; and quarantine seemed to have changed daters' perspectives. Around 840,000 people on the app believe it's important to have an emotional connection before a physical one — an indicator of more intentional "slow dating." While slow dating may be on the rise, more than 5 million people on OkCupid believe couples should live together before considering marriage. The vast majority of people surveyed this year agreed. 

 

Fifty-nine percent of OkCupid daters around the world said the pandemic made them more motivated about future date adventures — think hikes and picnics. This year has caused us to slow down and reflect, and we're seeing just how much in these trends.

Going back to 'normal', however, does not come without its own set of problems,  with growing crowd anxiety and an overall fear of socializing. There is a new phrase specifically for romantic ambivalence: Fear Of Dating Again, termed FODA. The fear and uncertainty of 2020 will likely permeate our lives even as the world opens back up. Given everything we've gone through in the past year, we can't expect to act the way we did before the pandemic. The term FODA exists for a reason: It's not just you. Social anxiety was prevalent even before the pandemic, so it's understandable to be especially anxious after a year of physically not being around others.

The DATEnhance Study

Here at DATEnhance we did our own study to predict the future of online dating. The graph above shows that the trend for those considering online dating post-pandemic is pretty positive. Virtual meetings and video calls are the safest way to protect your health. Online dating also shows you clearly who is single and seeking companionship - thee are so many positives of online dating. Considering the fact that online dating was such a massive phenomenon before the word coronavirus was even invented means it is firmly planted in our future. Long may it reign!

Expert opinion

We spoke to Hayley Quinn to get her take on the future of online dating. 

Photo: Hayley Quinn

"We've all missed dating in real life, but even if lockdown ends, I think dating app usage will keep growing. Dating apps have become the dominant way we meet people, and so the excitement of actually being able to go on a real date should drive people to sign up in anticipation of an end to lockdown. I also hope people will explore avenues to meet someone IRL with more interest: speed dating may have felt cringe-worthy, and approaching someone IRL terrifying, before lockdown but now it may be just the tonic people are looking for after months spent looking at the same 4 walls. I also believe commitment is going to have a real comeback. Lockdown made us all reflect on what we're missing out on in our lives, and many people will want to make up for this lost year of dating and will be more galvanised than ever before to find a partner. Lockdown took the fun out of being single, and whilst some people will be looking forward to casual dates, others will feel like they now really see the value in what a relationship could bring to their lives."

 

As consumer and audience expert Jayne Charneski told Mashable in February, we're all emerging from the pandemic as different people. Our outlooks and priorities have shifted and this is reflected in every aspect of life, including dating. 

Whether you want bar dates again or want to continue with park walks, post-pandemic dating can be personalized to fit you.