If you’ve been single during the pandemic, your priorities may have shifted when it comes to screening a potential match. Turns out, you aren’t the only one — at least according to a study on online dating trends south of the border.
Whatever happened to ‘hot vax summer’?
Instead, singles prioritized a prospective partner’s personality and other traits, ahead of physical attraction.
This is what singles are actually searching for online
Senior research fellow with the Kinsey Institute and chief science advisor for Match, Helen Fisher, calls the trend post-traumatic growth, and she highlighted the key findings in an interview for NPR.
The annual “Singles in America” study asked respondents to check their preferences out of 30 different options and share their priorities for what traits they want in a partner. Until this year, the top five always included “somebody who is physically attractive to me.” This year, looks no longer ranked in the top five.
Instead, the top five traits respondents wanted in a prospective mate are:
- Somebody who they can trust and confide in
- Somebody who communicates their needs and wants
- Somebody who’s open-minded
- Somebody who’s emotionally mature
- Somebody who makes them laugh
In short, they’re looking for substance and stability over appearances.
These are the biological reasons for post-traumatic growth
Fisher explains the shift in a trend she calls post-traumatic growth, and explains that there are biological reasons for this coming out of the pandemic.
While short-term stress can temporarily elevate our fight-or-flight response, and perhaps make us more prone to short-term dopamine and testosterone-driven flings, long-term stress has more of a slow-burn effect that dampens these tendencies over time, making us prioritize stability and safety instead.
While she anticipates that ,with time, these systems will be restored to natural levels, at least for now, we crave emotional maturity over casual sex.
Men are falling in love faster than women in 2021
Interestingly too, Fisher noted that it’s men who are leading the way in this trend. Fisher shared that in the 11 years the “Singles in America” study has been conducted, she’s observed that men fall in love faster than women and that they fall in love more often than women.
In the most recent survey, when they were asked if they were ready for a long-term commitment, 42 per cent of men responded that they were ready, compared to only 29 per cent of women. Specifically, men are seeking emotional security, financial stability and long-term committed partnership.
Move over fast flings, it’s time for slow love
Fisher also shares a trend she’s noticed even before the pandemic: what she calls “slow love.”
Singles are selecting their matches more carefully and taking longer to commit in a slowing down of the courtship process; they are doing things like video chats before even committing to meeting for that in-person first date.
She says that this bodes well for those looking for serious relationships because it gives singles more opportunity to get to know themselves better, to try things out on their own and then marry later in life when they have better understanding of themselves and what they want.
Fisher points that in her research, she’s noticed that the longer you court and the later you marry, the more likely you are to remain with your partner. “I’ve looked in the demographic yearbooks of the United Nations for 80 cultures from 1947 to 2011. And everywhere in the world, the longer you court, the later you wed, the more likely you are to stay together. And in fact, this pandemic is slowing courtship down even more,” she told NPR.