Overall, experts predict that daters will prioritize their own emotional and sexual needs to a far greater degree in 2022. “After getting more in touch with themselves, people are now choosing to pursue relationships in ways that actually feel in alignment with what they want,” says sex therapist Shadeen Francis, LMFT, CST, an expert at emotional-wellness platform Mine'd. “I think they’re feeling more empowered toward choice.”
“After getting more in touch with themselves, people are now choosing to pursue relationships in ways that actually feel in alignment with what they want.” —Shadeen Frances, LMFT, CST
While that notion supports one of the top predicted dating app trends for 2022 (the rise of the intentional dater), the idea of knowing and loving thyself is a common thread running through all forecasts. Below, find the top dating app trends for the coming year, according to industry experts and internal survey data gathered by the apps themselves.
The 6 types of daters you’ll find online in 2022, according to the top dating app trends
1. The intentional dater
By and large, folks will be dating like they mean it in 2022. In other words? No one has time for games anymore. “Intentional dating is about being clear with yourself and others about who you are and what you want,” says Logan Ury, Hinge’s director of relationship science. “In 2022, we expect to see an increase in 'hardballing,' too, which is a dating term that means being up-front from the beginning about your relationship expectations.”
“In 2022, we expect to see an increase in 'hardballing,' a dating term that means being up-front from the beginning about your relationship expectations.” —Logan Ury, director of relationship science, Hinge
Notably, that clarity of intent will hold true whether folks are seeking something casual or serious or something in-between, with the commonality being that they’re seeking it without beating around the bush. A survey conducted by Hinge in early 2021 found that more than half of users reported being more honest about their feelings, while a survey conducted by the new dating app S’more in August found that 41 percent of users plan to be more honest on their profiles. And recent surveys from both Bumble and eharmony speak to greater thoughtfulness across the board: 54 percent of the Bumble respondents said they’re choosing to be more mindful in how and when they date, while 45 percent of the eharmony respondents reported that they will ask more questions online before meeting IRL in 2022.
According to sexologist and relationship coach Satori Madrone, this intentionality is simply a natural extension of how the pandemic has encouraged us to reevaluate our personal lives, priorities, and even careers in big ways. “For some daters, rethinking intimate relationships has become a values-based project,” she says. “This might look like contemplating a deeper level of compatible or desirable qualities, or planning more deliberately for a future built on shared meaning and values.”
2. The health-conscious dater
According to Match’s 2021 Singles in America survey, vaccination status is the number-one most important issue to daters right now. And recent data from other apps back that up: 30 percent of singles responding to an October 2021 Plenty of Fish survey consider being vaccinated a desirable trait; 26 percent of respondents to the eharmony survey would only date someone who’s vaccinated; and 62 percent of people from the S’more survey said they would not have sex with an unvaccinated person.
The continued calls for social distancing, masking protocols, and the presence of new COVID-19 variants make it all the more likely that we’ll continue to see a rise in vaccinated-only daters in 2022, according to Madrone.
But the health-consciousness likely won’t stop there. “Before the pandemic, it was really hard for a lot of folks to have conversations around safer sex practices and testing history,” says Frances. “And now, it's actually very common for people to ask you about your health and medical history with COVID, so I imagine that’ll extend to things like STI status, too.” In fact, a survey from pleasure-product platform Lovehoney conducted in June found that among fully vaccinated singles, more than half said they were more likely to communicate with partners about safer-sex practices in the future, while 42 percent said they were more likely to use condoms and contraceptives.
3. The emotionally intelligent dater
The past two years have been nothing short of traumatic on a collective (and for some, personal) level, and many daters are emerging emotionally stronger and more self-aware, as a result—and they’re looking for the same level of depth and awareness in a partner. The recent Match survey found that 83 percent of singles are looking for emotional maturity in a long-term partner, and in a Hinge survey from this fall, a whopping 97 percent of respondents said they’d prefer to date someone who actively takes care of their mental health, with 89 percent saying they’re actually more likely to go on a second date with someone who mentioned on the first date that they go to therapy.
“The hottest accessory in 2022 will be a receipt from your therapist,” says Ury. “Singles who took the time to self-reflect throughout the year are looking for someone who is also working on gaining a better sense of themselves.”
4. The sex-plorative dater
As folks have gotten more acquainted with their pleasure devices (sex-toy sales and usage have gone way up during the pandemic), many have also become more attuned to the different ways in which they might achieve that pleasure. Cue: sexploration as a dating app trend for 2022.
For some evidence, the Lovehoney survey found that 40 percent of singles reported using sex toys more often during the pandemic, and 31 percent reported exploring more facets of kink. And the Hinge survey found that 31 percent of users developed a new sexual fantasy this past year, and 45 percent are searching for a partner with whom they can play out these new sexual desires.
“It’s only natural that we search for or create conditions that give us pleasure, including opportunities for new kinds of sexual pleasure.” —Satori Madrone, sexologist and relationship coach
“Human beings are wired to seek pleasure and avoid pain,” says Madrone. “With the overemphasis of pain, uncertainty, and upheaval created by the pandemic, it’s only natural that we search for or create conditions that give us pleasure, including opportunities for new kinds of sexual pleasure.”
Just as more time alone at home during the pandemic has given many people a chance to reevaluate their priorities and goals at large, it's also allowed the space for more pleasure-forward discovery. The Lovehoney survey found that 65 percent of respondents said they learned something new about themselves through masturbation, and according to the Match survey, half of people reported that they’ve learned more about how to please themselves and what to do (and not do) with a partner during the pandemic. And there’s no better time than the present for daters to put all that new knowledge to use, given the powers of sex to act as a stress-reliever, mood-booster, and overall self-care practice, says Madrone.
5. The politically conscious dater
Political beliefs are baked into so many of the discussions percolating in the zeitgeist right now, from abortion access to COVID mandates and climate change. And data from OkCupid shows that politics will continue to be a potential deal-breaker for daters in 2022: User profiles have shown a 10-percent increase in political terms over the past year, and there've been notable spikes in usage of the platform's social and political-issue filters.
“The stakes feel very high for daters in 2022, and midterm elections are already on the minds of so many of them,” says OkCupid chief marketing officer and dating expert Melissa Hobley. “We are hearing from tons of singles on OkCupid that they don't even want to match with folks whose political views don't align with theirs.”
6. The sober-curious (or dry) dater
The non-alcoholic spirits market is abuzz right now, in part because of the ways in which the pandemic led people to pay more attention to what they were putting into their bodies. Eharmony predicts that 30 percent of daters will only date someone sober in 2022, and recent data from the Bumble survey backs that up: 34 percent of people globally reported that they’re more likely now to consider going on a dry date than they were pre-pandemic, and 25 percent of people in the U.S. said that they’re drinking a lot less than before. Only time will tell if that means the classic drinks date will dissolve altogether or simply morph into a spirit-free version, as bars and restaurants stock more booze-free options in the coming year.
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