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What is micro-flirting and contra-dating? The leading dating trends of 2024

Couple on a date as 2024's top dating trends are revealed. (Getty Images)
Contra-dating and micro-flirting are predicted to be top dating trends in 2024. (Getty Images)

Whether you've recently gone through a breakup or you're young, free and single, if this is the year you're hoping to meet someone special, there are some dating trends you can expect to stumble across in 2024.

Interestingly, this year's dating movements focus on mental health, wellbeing and trying new things, with dating experts predicting contra-dating, micro-flirting and slow meet-ups will top the list of romantic ways to find a match.

Read on for 10 major dating predictions for 2024

2024's top dating trends

1. Contra-dating

The term ‘contra-dating’ is used when you want to broaden your horizon and contradict yourself and your usual type, by going for someone you would not usually go for.

"Having a type when looking for a romantic connection is very normal," explains relationship coach Jonathan Hartley from PositivesDating. "However, this can narrow down the dating pool and decrease your chances of finding a potential partner.

If your preferences are all physical, Hartley says it is best to reevaluate and open up to some other potential candidates.

"Physical attributes will change over time, and core values will remain the same," he explains. "It is best to remember that emotional connection, beliefs, and reciprocity affect your physical attraction to someone."

And of course, dating someone not your type may indicate to yourself that what you want is not what you necessarily need.

"You may experience a different outlook on life and relationships or even be exposed to activities, foods, or hobbies you usually would have passed on," Hartley adds.

Couple on a dinner date. (Getty Images)
Age is just a number when it comes to dating in 2024. (Getty Images)

2. Age is just a number

We've already seen several celebrity age-gap relationships blossoming recently, including Sienna Miller, but dating experts predict 2024 to be a year to experience connections with people older or younger than you.

According to Bumble, users are widening their age range filters, with over 63% of people surveyed revealing that age is not a defining factor when dating.

"Let go of any personal rules surrounding how old a potential partner must be; not only will this widen the dating pool, but you will also realise that what a partner has to offer is less about age and more about values and personal goals," advises Hartley.

3. Micro-flirting

Scooch over regular flirting, this year is all about flirting in a bite-sized way.

"‘Micro-flirting’ is a fairly new term, used to describe flirting in a subtle, not-so-obvious way and is usually done to gauge if one person is interested in the other," explains Hartley.

The movement is expected to rise this year with searches for the term increasing over the previous month, according to Google Trends.

"Some examples of micro-flirting include noticing small details that have changed, subtle changes in body language when the other person is around or becoming defensive or protective of the other person," Hartley continues.

"This subtle form of flirting is excellent if you want to protect yourself from rejection."

Couple dating. (Getty Images)
New research has revealed some of 2024's top dating trends. (Getty Images)

4. So long ghosting

Thankfully, experts predict the practice of ghosting, used when someone suddenly ends all communication with you, should fall away in 2024.

"Ghosting can leave people feeling confused, irritated, and unwanted, which negatively impacts self-confidence," Hartley says of the toxic trait.

"Therefore, it should be considered an immediate red flag and a sign of poor communication," he advises.

Hartley says there are numerous reasons why you might be ghosted.

"These range from emotional unavailability, attachment styles, or just feeling overwhelmed," he explains. "If you suspect you are getting ghosted, do not let feelings linger; try to communicate with them maturely. If they do not respond to your messages, it is better to protect your feelings and avoid contacting them further."

5. The rise of slow-dating

Experiences such as ghosting can impact mental health, causing the dating experience to become very draining. "This is why it is vital to protect yourself and prioritise self-care," Hartley advises.

According to a survey carried out by dating site Bumble, 58% of users are becoming more self-aware and cautious when dating to protect their mental health. The poll also found that 31% of users surveyed are 'slow dating', the term used for when one is more considerate of how often they go on dates and generally takes things slow to build an emotional connection in a pressure-free and relaxed environment.

"The build-up to creating a connection with a partner can be overwhelming; if it does not go well, it can be mentally draining, which is why slow is best," Hartley explains.

Woman looking at a dating app. (Getty Images)
Slow-dating is set to be another important dating trend this year. (Getty Images)

6. Revealing vulnerability

According to Hartley 2024 could be the year when men realise that vulnerability is vital to improving relationships and breaking cycles of toxic mentalities which can plague young men.

"2023 prompted many conversations regarding masculinity and vulnerability, with significant moments in pop culture, such as the Barbie movie, having underlying themes of toxic masculinity and gender roles," Hartley explains.

"Vulnerability is an essential aspect of a relationship; it can signify trust as you are willing to put yourself at ‘risk’ by sharing the most emotionally intimate part of yourself," he continues.

"This can help build or improve a strong foundation for a lasting relationship, regardless if the relationship is platonic or romantic."

Hartley says it is important to remember, however, that people have varying emotional needs; some prefer emotional connection prior to any physical connection, and some may need a physical connection before opening up to an emotional connection.

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