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It's fair to say this hasn't been an 'ordinary' year for anybody; and in the dating world, we've seen a massive shift in how people use online dating:
While Tinder is a bit of a marmite subject for a lot of us - I'm not going to say which side I fall on! - they have published a report called 'Year in Swipe' which is an interesting look at what dating trends have exploded this year.
This report is something published annually, and although Tinder represents only a small proportion of the global dating community, it is a vast platform, so it's always going to have a significant amount of data to collate and compare with last year!
So - what happened in 2020, which trends have taken off, and what can we expect from dating apps in the New Year?
We've all become more reliant on social media and networking platforms as pandemic restrictions change the way we interact. Digital information sharing has proven invaluable and has been a considerable contributor to movements such as Black Lives Matter.
Social dating sites aren't now just about connecting like-minded individuals; but about supporting community environments, and promoting inclusivity and accessibility as the social injustices and disparities prevalent in modern societies become part of the global consciousness.
Now daters aren't just looking for a hot profile photo or someone who also liked target shooting and basketball - but people who care about their values, hold the same ethics, and support the causes and movements that mean something.
The pandemic has spawned a language all of its own - and lots of words we'd never heard of 12 months ago are now a regular part of our vocabulary!
Along with 'social distancing', 'self-isolation' and 'travel corridors' has emerged a raft of pick up lines that would only be relevant in today's environment:
You get the idea - it's cheesy, a bit naff, but also shines a tiny light of humour on what has been a very dark time for a lot of people.
TikTok employed a crafty marketing ploy, aimed at targeting core demographics through Tinder - and to significant effect.
They embedded their ads on the Tinder app (yep, pretty annoying!), but made those ads look like a TikTok profile to correlate with the rest of the scrolling experience and to encourage users to tap on an ad, thinking it was an incredibly gorgeous profile photo.
I'm a bit torn on whether this is ethical or not; but then, clickbait is a part of the world we live in, and if they're paying for the advertising space, I guess it's best to get as much engagement as you can!
Perhaps we'll see much more of this in 2021, as apps see the potential to advertise on alternative (or even competing) frameworks with targeted ads that are designed to replicate the user experience.
With mandatory masks, social distancing and restrictions in mixing outside of your own household, daters have found that taboos have changed. Whether that is going to stay with a lover during the lockdown, visiting dates when movements are prohibited, or having a good old snog - when really, you should both be wearing masks.
An interesting side effect of this is that we've all got more familiar with interpreting body language and facial expressions, even when somebody we're chatting to is wearing a mask.
Longer-term, this might just be a good thing since we all know that a great smile can hide a whole different set of emotions!
While the pandemic has to be the biggest news of 2020, we've also seen some other pretty exceptional events - including the US presidential election, and of course Brexit.
Factions on both sides of either vote can harbour powerful feelings, and much as with the support of social movements, airing your political views on dating apps has become much more acceptable, and perhaps even expected.
It stands to good reason that we're starting to care a lot more about ethics and values than superficial things. For example, you could stand to date someone who isn't as tall as your 'ideal man', or has brown eyes instead of blue - but you're not going to build a happy relationship with someone who has strongly opposing political views that go against everything you stand for!
I'd say if you have sincere convictions and know that it is essential for a date to share those ideals, slapping a badge or status update on your profile is a relatively gentle way of weeding out matches that aren't going to make your light burn brighter.
6. The World Got More Inclusive
I find it quite challenging to put into words how our collective mindsets have changed, but feel that it's a worldwide change of focus. Perhaps it's born out of the stress, fear and impacts of the pandemic, making us all look a bit closer at what matters - and setting aside outdated prejudices that have no place in the modern world.
So, there you have it - the most noticeable changes of 2020 on digital dating, as per the Tinder annual review.
Many of these trends are positive; so it will be interesting to see how the climate changes in 2021, and whether we discard these new values, or become a generation where what you think matters just as much as how you look.
Let us know what you think - what changes have you seen in 2020, and what do you think will stick as we move into the new year?