Now that dating is irrevocably intertwined with technology, it’s changing so fast that it’s hard to keep up.
Hop on the latest dating app, and it can seem like everyone’s speaking a different language.
The expectations you bring to dating aren’t shared by the men you match with.
Luckily, dating giants like Match.com and Tinder release regular reports charting the latest trends among their users.
If you plan to try a dating app this year, here are three emerging trends you might want to be aware of.
1. The death of the dinner date
The dinner date used to be a classic.
It was an opportunity to observe your date in action as he ushered you to your chair, dealt with the waitstaff, and ate his meal.
You learned whether he had good manners and good taste.
But fewer and fewer singles are choosing to go out to dinner together, opting instead for low-key dates like a walk, a coffee, or hanging out.
The cost of living is part of it. Singles have less disposable income to go out on expensive dates.
But changing gender roles play a factor, too.
The dinner date traditionally involves a man asking a woman out and paying for her meal. It’s too formal and conventional for many people today, who prefer more casual ways of making that first contact.
They put off going out to dinner together until they know they like each other and want to spend more time together.
So if your new connection just wants to “hang out” or “grab a drink” the first time you meet, don’t assume he’s not serious.
He may just want to make sure he likes you in person before committing to more formal plans.
2. The situationship
Commitment is black and white.
Either you’re committed, or you’re not.
But many singles today believe in shades of gray.
The “situationship” is located somewhere in the gray area between casual dating and a committed relationship.
Some consider it a low-key relationship without all the pressure, while others consider it a fancy name for a hookup buddy.
Regardless, more young people are adding it to their Tinder bios.
They want a “special someone,” but they don’t want the weight of expectations that comes with interviewing dates for the position of boyfriend/girlfriend.
Research suggests that getting to know each other in a low-key fashion can be helpful in forming a rock-solid relationship later on.
People who know each other fairly well before forming a relationship tend to stay together longer.
But that research is also clear that it’s the friendship that forms such a good foundation for lasting love.
When you build a friendship with someone and then fall in love, you have that friendship to fall back on when times get tough.
Start your connection on the basis of physical chemistry, and you don’t experience the same benefit.
So if a guy tells you he’s open to a “situationship,” make sure to ask him what that term means to him.
Does it mean a hookup buddy? Does it mean someone he really care for? Does it involve exclusivity?
It’s okay not to jump into a relationship straight away, but you need to know what you’re getting in for.
3. Social issues loud and proud
It used to be that three topics were off-limits in polite conversation:
Money, politics, and religion.
But singles today are breaking the rules.
They’re up front about their commitment to social issues, and they’re looking for partners who share the same sense of civic duty. Many even consider not voting a dealbreaker.
Fewer and fewer singles are willing to partner with someone who doesn’t share their political convictions.
For them, their stance on social issues is a crucial part of their identity. They want a compatible partner who shares those views.
This may be because political beliefs have become a stand-in for values. Singles believe that a person’s political beliefs reveal what they value, and they want a partner who shares their values.
Regardless, don’t be surprised if your new connection brings up politics on a first date or decides not to pursue your connection because of political differences.
What trends have you seen in your experiences with dating in the past year?
Share them with us in the comments!