Whether you're newly divorced or young, free and single, if you're hoping to meet someone special, what are the dating trends you can expect to see in 2023?
Some 70% of people said they felt “positive about the romance that lies ahead in 2023” in a study by Bumble of over 14,000 dating app users worldwide, so the bleakness of the cost of living crisis clearly hasn’t dampened our desire to find love either.
What’s more, the experts predict a little bit of ‘healthy selfishness’ will be on the agenda this year, with people becoming better at articulating their needs and boundaries in new relationships. Read on for 10 major dating predictions for 2023…
1. Open casting
Not your usual type? No worries! Forget the past, this year we’ll all be into ‘open casting’ where our usual requirements fly out the window, according to the experts at Bumble. Thought you were into tall, dark, handsome strangers? Well, maybe you won’t rule out those petite blondes this year, with over half of single respondents in the UK saying they’re more open to dating people outside of their ‘usual type’.
2. Love-life balance
Gone are the days when having an impressively powerful job title would automatically make you a great catch. In fact, half of the people surveyed are prioritising work/life balance for themselves (49%) and want their future partners to do the same.
In the past year, over half of singletons worldwide (52%) say they’ve been actively creating more space in their lives ‘for breaks and rest’. Interestingly, more than one in ten (13%) will no longer date someone with a very demanding job, presumably fearing they’ll be low down on the priority list.
3. Sensitive men
Had enough of alpha males? You’re not alone – in fact, many men themselves have been reflecting on gender norms and expectations. Three-quarters of men (74%) say they have examined their behaviour more than ever in the past year and have a clearer understanding of ‘toxic masculinity’ and what isn’t acceptable.
More than half of people on Bumble (52%) are actively challenging stereotypes that suggest men should not show emotions, for fear of appearing weak. One in three men (38%) now speak more openly about their emotions with their male friends, showing a shift towards embracing their more sensitive side.
4. Ethical sex-ploration
Traditional sex-pectations are being replaced with a more open-minded approach. Many of us are approaching sex, intimacy and dating in a more exploratory way (42%).
We’re no longer shy about saying what we want in bed either, knowing good communication is key, with more than than half of us agreeing it’s important to discuss our sexual desires and needs early on in a relationship (53%).
Last year 20% of daters ‘explored their sexuality more’ and an adventurous one in eight of us (14%) are considering having a non-monogamous relationship. Don’t assume this means we’re all having plenty of sex though – 42% of people on the dating app aren’t having any sex right now and are fine with that.
Long-distance relationships could be on the rise this year, with one in three (33%) of people on Bumble saying they’re now more open to travel and relationships with people from other cities. Post-pandemic WFH flexibility means 14% of us have explored the idea of being a ‘digital nomad’, giving us far more options in terms of who and where we date.
6. Second-chance romance
One in three people on the dating app (39%) said they’d ended a marriage or serious relationship in the last two years. Those people are now beginning a new chapter in their lives with one in three (36%) of them using dating apps for the first time, learning to navigate new dating language and etiquette.
7. Healthy selfishness
With the return to office culture and our busy social schedules, the majority of respondents said they’re feeling “overwhelmed” right now. As a result, we’ve become more protective over our ‘me time’, with more than half of people (52%) saying they’ve “established more boundaries” over the last year.
This pattern of behaviour, also known as ‘guard-railing’, includes being clearer about our emotional needs and boundaries (63%), being more thoughtful and intentional about how we put ourselves out there (59%), and being careful not to overcommit socially (53%).
8. Mirror dating
Tina Wilson, founder of the dating app Wingman, also predicts that we'll see a rise in 'mirror dating' where would-be couples choose to go on double dates with friends or even try group dates, as a way to make the situation more relaxed.
"There are two main benefits of this 'mirror dating' approach," says Wilson, despite the loss of intimacy. "It's exciting to mix things up and have fun by going on double dates because it takes the pressure off any awkward moments alone together. You can also assess your date in a social and group setting, as well as gain important feedback from your friends."
After all, knowing you so well, they may be able to give an honest opinion of your compatibility.
Read more: How to tell if someone fancies you
This shift is about not being afraid to show your emotional vulnerability early on: forget being needy, this trend is about being open and honest about wanting to find love, instead of just a fling. The dating site Seeking.com saw a rise in user profiles with the tag: looking for 'emotional connection'. It's not just women either – in fact, a third of men are now looking for that deeper level encounter.
"Being fully open and honest with someone, right from the start can have its benefits," says Emma Hathorn, dating expert for Seeking.com, and it avoids mis-matched expectations. "It saves you time, you end up surrounding yourself with people who genuinely want to be in your life and partners who are less likely to disappoint you in the long run. I would advocate for this approach because it avoids putting on a false show."
This approach prioritises a meeting of the minds, instead of a focus on looks. "It's where like-minded intellectuals seek out other equally educated people to date," says Hathorn.
"Meeting someone who inspires you and expands your world view through deeper, intellect-based conversations is a powerful thing, whether romantic or not," she adds. "When combined with dating, this trend has the potential to create lasting relationships that improve both people's lives."
She acknowledges that an intellectual soulmate may take time to find, but if you actively seek out this kind of union, it can lead to "a relationship defying age and cultural barriers" too. What matters is a shared mindset, not the more superficial details.
An exciting year ahead...
“As we head into the new year, we’re encouraged by the many ways single people are challenging the status quo and taking control of defining what a healthy relationship means for them,” says Naomi Walkland, Bumble Vice-President for Europe, commenting on their study's findings.
After all, by deciding what you want in a future partner, you’re more likely to find the right match. And if 2023 isn’t the year you find The One, you're bound to still have plenty of adventures along the way.