Dating trends come and go: orbiting, breadcrumbing, benching, curving… The list is endless. Every new year brings unusual trends that professional (and amateur) singletons need to know to stay ahead of the dating game.
But this is a particularly unusual year. People are finding love against the looming spectre of the pandemic, and some leftfield dating trends have appeared as a result.
Feeling apprehensive? No need — here are the five dating trends of 2021 that you need to know about.
Throw your crush a hardball
There was once a time when dating was a leisurely affair: lots of dates, coy small talk, letting your date wait before texting them back, and so on.
But these are hard times. Who has the time to play the long game when the world is in crisis?
Hardballers don’t waste time with coy small talk and pointless conversation — they know what they want, and they set it out from the beginning.
There are several advantages to this, the biggest of which is that it does away with all the not-knowing of dating. While some love the thrill of the chase, there are plenty of others who just have their eyes on the prize: a serious, meaningful relationship.
That said, hardball dating does lack a certain romance to it — the hard-and-fast nature of hardballing doesn’t exactly leave much room for the excitement of first dates, the texting games, and sweet nothings.
But for the romantics out there, don’t fret — you can always try…
Slow and steady wins the race with slow dating
For every hardballer out there, there is a slow dater.
As the name suggests, slow dating is all about playing the long game — lots of initial dating before committing to anything. If you love the mystery of first dates and the will-they-won’t-they of texting back afterwards, then slow dating is for you.
Alt-text (if applicable?): a girl asks a guy if he kind of likes her
Hardballing might work for some, but others don’t want to rush into the great unknown without first getting to know someone.
We’ve also all suddenly found ourselves with way more time on our hands, and there’s only so much sourdough bread you can bake — why not fill it with dating instead?
Take your time replying. Go on five, ten, even 15 dates if you want. Look, we’re in the middle of a pandemic — what’s the hurry?
The stars have aligned for astrolove
If you’re anything like me, your Insta feed is likely full of memes like this:
Alt-text: a meme featuring an Aquarius highlighting their zodiac trait of finding ‘nice’ people boring
Astrology is big right now. Who’s to say why? Maybe it’s out of lockdown boredom, or maybe it’s just a way for people to make sense of these wild times — who knows?
Regardless, the ancient art of studying the planets is back in vogue, and daters have taken to it with aplomb.
What does that mean for you?
Well, if you’re a Gemini, don’t waste your time pursuing a Scorpio. Air signs are notoriously difficult at articulating their feelings (apparently), which will frustrate any self-respecting Water sign.
And if you’re a Leo, you’d do well to stay away from a Taurus — Fire signs and Earth signs are a definite no-no (duh).
For those that believe in astrology, this is a great way of sorting the wheat from the chaff and finding your not-so-star-crossed lover. But if you don’t? Well, you might find yourself missing out on that perfect girl you like because you were unlucky enough to be born in the middle of March.
Welcome to a new dawn (of dating)
While it might sound like the name of some wild new post-COVID cult, new dawn daters actually refers to those unfortunate people who found themselves newly single as a direct result of the pandemic.
This could be for all sorts of reasons. Perhaps spending the first lockdown with their live-in partner made them realise just how irritating their beau actually is, or maybe that long-distance relationship lost its spark while we were limited to the confines of our postcode.
Regardless, new dawn daters are fresh out of a committed relationship and looking to take their first tentative steps into the dating world. They might be excited, nervous, apprehensive, or just feeling a little wild — and good luck to them!
Keep it local with locdating
Between social media and globalisation, people often say the world is getting smaller. But for those dating during the pandemic, it’s even smaller still.
Before COVID, it was easy to hop on a train to meet a date in a different borough, neighbourhood, or town. But in a pandemic, that’s not so easy. That’s why many daters are deciding to shop local when it comes to finding love in the time of COVID.
Locdating means keeping your dating app’s distance to a minimum, only looking to chat, flirt, and meet up with singles in your area.
The most obvious benefit of this is convenience. Literally dating the boy next door saves the hassle of getting to and from your distant date, as well as reducing the risk of being fined for breaching lockdown rules.
That said, there are cons to this — if your date turns sour, there’s a high chance you’ll awkwardly bump into them on your state-approved walk to the shops. Thank goodness for face masks, eh?
The world might be in a pandemic, but that doesn’t mean love is in lockdown too. Whether you’re a seasoned singleton ready to mingle or fresh out of a relationship and dipping your toe in the dating pool, these are the trends you need to know in 2021.