In a world where our screen time is mortifyingly high and we have the ability to get in touch with anyone in just a few moments, it’s unsurprising that online dating has become a rite of passage for most young singles.
While more organic methods of dating are still out there – feeling the undeniable sexual tension of being paired with a hot stranger at a party for beer pong, or discovering that your flatmate’s friend from home has got bone structure which could make Greek gods envious – the persistent lockdowns of the last years have made any form of meet-cute much more difficult.
From online college socials to Zoom speed dating, singles have had to get creative with dating methods over the past year and many are not prepared to go through the digital ordeal again
Naturally, apps such as Hinge, Bumble and Tinder became less of a way to find people you know and laugh at their cringy profile jokes (clearly intended to coax you into their unwashed sheets) and more of an avenue for seeking out genuine connection.
However, after logging onto a Zoom meeting every day to view equally blank faces staring back at us and lagging when connection is poor, millions of single daters are tired of online interactions of any kind, and are ready for the real thing.
From online college socials to Zoom speed dating, singles have had to get creative with dating methods over the past year and many are not prepared to go through the digital ordeal again.
“It’s exhausting. I’ve spent the past year meeting everyone new in my life, from bosses to therapists, online – why would I want to continue to do so in my dating life now everything is opening up?” said Katherine, a 20-year-old from North England.
After breaking up with her long-term boyfriend during the first lockdown, Katherine downloaded the online dating app Hinge as a way to take her mind off things and gradually ease back into the world of dating.
“It was the obvious thing to do,” she said. “Meeting people at clubs and bars was out of the question and I was pretty sick of trying to guess if a stranger was hot under their mask in the supermarket.”
Like many, Katherine enjoyed online dating at first, but soon grew tired of the process, especially as it was the only option.
Emma, a 19-year-old from Brighton, felt the same. She said, “Tinder used to be fun because it was so different from normal life. Every day meeting rules didn’t apply and I felt I could be more upfront with my needs and expectations from behind a screen. Now that everything is like that, the boundaries have been completely blurred.”
With a return to more traditional forms of dating this summer, Sally Baker, a senior therapist and the brains behind Working On The Body anticipates romantic turbulence.
“There’s a huge amount of pressure to make up for lost time and get on with living in real life. What makes it feel even more urgent is that calling 2021 “The Summer of Love” piles on even more unnecessary pressure to make sure no one wastes their time in the sun.”
Baker argues that the online dating fatigue experienced by young singles during the pandemic is to be expected.
“Sure, there is online dating fatigue, and just like online shoppers can’t wait to get back to the High Street and feel the adrenaline rush before they buy, people are desperate to take their love life offline and meet someone in a bar or a club like in the old days before the world changed forever.”
However, despite the inevitable turbulence, Baker urges us not to kick dating apps to the curb quite yet. “Even if filling out another dating profile makes you despair, you have nothing to lose by doing it anyway. Throw everything you have into this summer, you’ve been waiting long enough. Recognize your worth and also remember just how many people have missed out on knowing you before now.”
Even if meeting someone in a bar may seem a little more natural and fun, don’t neglect the apps all together. After all, douches exist on and offline… but at least the douche on Tinder you can actually block.