What do single people want post-pandemic?

Then the pandemic hit.

Like many bachelors, Mr Somers spent the months of lockdown on his own. When he returned to dating, he was surprised that his preferences had changed.

“I realized I needed a good partner,” says Mr. Somers, 59, a marketing executive in Washington, D.C.

Meet the postpandemic single.

Like everyone else, single people have been rethinking their priorities over the years. Many say they’re more eager to find a partner than ever before—and they’re dating more intentionally, according to results from the latest Singles in America study conducted by researchers at the Kinsey Institute and funded by Match. dating app. They are also keeping pace with political and social issues.

They are (slightly) less interested in looks.

Single people have had plenty of time to think during the pandemic, says Helen Fisher, a senior research fellow at the Kinsey Institute and the study’s lead researcher. Now, many have a clear idea of ​​what they want—and what needs to be done to get it.

Researchers surveyed a national, demographically representative sample of 5,000 single Americans age 18 and older who are not in a committed relationship. Match funds the study, although it does not collect survey participants through its app.

Nearly three-quarters of participants say they want to find a partner they want to marry, roughly the same as last year and up from 58% in 2019. past tense.

Research has shown that major stressful events can increase people’s desire for connection and commitment—and romantic relationships can buffer against anxiety. A separate study of single people during the pandemic found that those who were anxious during it became more selective: They are more interested in finding a steady partner, says Liezel Sharby, assistant professor in the school of communication at Arizona State University. , a researcher the study.

Not everyone is looking to pair up, of course. Some single people found they enjoyed spending time alone during the pandemic, says Bella DePaulo, a social psychologist who studies singles.

Yet most post-pandemic singles are interested in dating, according to Justin Garcia, executive director of the Kinsey Institute and a researcher on singles in America. Here’s how their attitudes and behavior are changing.

They are more deliberate.

Studies show that nearly three-quarters of unmarried people say they only want to go on a first date with someone they already know they have good chemistry with. To find out, they are spending more time on phone calls and video chats. Today, one-quarter of singles say they’ve video chatted with a date before meeting in person, up from 6% in 2019.

When they do meet, more than one-third of singles say they’ll wait to have sex. And—surprise!—men were more likely than women to say they would wait: 40%, compared to 33% for women.

“Often, people were going through the motions first,” says Uthika Girme, a social psychologist at Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, British Columbia, who studies singles and romantic relationships. Now they’re saying to themselves: ‘I need this. Dating with intent.'”

They are looking deeper.

Every year, researchers ask single people what they’re looking for in a partner. The No. 1 answer this year is “someone to trust and believe.” It’s always high on the list.

Three traits in the top five are new since the pandemic: singles said they are looking for partners who are comfortable with their own sexuality; Able to communicate your wants and needs; And those who are emotionally mature. (This last one made the top five for the first time last year, when the pandemic hit.)

A sense of humor stayed on the list—it’s always a favorite.

And what dropped from the top five during the pandemic? Physical attraction.

They are more flexible.

Half of unmarried people surveyed this year said they’ve fallen in love with someone they weren’t initially attracted to, up from 39% in 2019. This is the highest number in the last decade.

More than half said they would be open to a long-distance relationship, up from 35% last year, a growth researchers say is being driven by the rise in remote and hybrid work.

They are adapting to the times.

Nearly 60% of single people say it is important for their partner to share their political beliefs. This is down from the all-time high of 78% in 2020. (In 2016, it was 50%.)

But abortion is a hot topic, with 78% of unmarried women of reproductive age saying the Supreme Court ruled Roe v. The decision to dismiss Wade has changed their sex life. Two out of three single women would not date a partner who has opposing views on the issue. And 13% of active daters said the decision made them hesitate to date.

Mr. Somers, who is divorced, now has a new dating motto: “No more flakes.”

During the pandemic, he says he learned to enjoy his own company. This had made him less afraid of being single – and more selective about who he dates. There are men out there who are handsome but shallow. There are people who show genuine interest in him and know how to communicate.

Now when he meets someone he likes, he goes on two dates with her. If the guy only talks about himself or seems disinterested, then he’s moved on.

And he doesn’t kiss on the first date anymore.

“During the pandemic I learned to be happy with myself and what I needed,” he says, “so now I can focus more.”

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