Not to jump the gun on this, but it seems like the dating world as we know it is finally coming to an end.
Just three years ago, you couldn’t get through a date without spending half your monthly salary, wear a full-body Spanx suit, and never say what you really want, think or feel. The alternative was situationship, better known as the mindlessly swiping left and right in search of casual love.
Today, the rules of the game have changed. And oddly enough, we have COVID to thank for it. From navigating how to date during and post-lockdown to learning that voicefishing can be a good thing, we’ve all had to get used to dating outside of our usual comfort zones.
As a result, dating has been reformed. Once an extremely stressful situation fraught with disappointment, more and more people today look at dating as a chill, casual and fun experience. A chance to get to know someone new, enjoy a sunny day together, and just a good reason to get out of the house.
It’s gotten to the point where you can’t even tell if someone is on a date anymore. Two people could be walking through the park on a Wednesday afternoon, wearing gender-neutral slacks and browsing through a random bookstore. And they’d both call that a perfect date.
So has COVID wiped out all social conventions regarding dating? Probably not. But there’s definitely a new dating normal in town.
In 2022, seeing a therapist is cool, being forthright about your relationship goals is appreciated, and the hottest outfit you could wear includes sustainable slides or whatever makes you feel comfortable in your own skin.
Please welcome the era of wellness dating – a better, more mindful way of finding love.
Mental well-being is the new sexy
Coming out of the pandemic, people have gotten surprisingly good at prioritizing their mental health, and that includes in our dating lives, too.
Remember when we used to rule out dozens of potential partners just because they weren’t our type? And when I say type I mean they didn’t have a perfect hairline or a six pack.
Now, more and more people are focusing on partner traits like being open-minded and accepting of differences. In fact, according to Match’s annual Singles in America report, 83% of singles polled are looking for emotional maturity in a partner over physical attractiveness.
And it’s not just being mentally healthy but talking about it, too. According to Hinge, openness about your mental health journey will be a major talking point in the dating space for 2022 and beyond.
In other words, this Valentine’s Day, finding someone who’s appreciative of their own and others’ well-being is a total turn on.
When it comes to authenticity, more is more
It might have worked in the late 90s, but it’s time to throw the Rules of Dating According to Charlotte York out the window.
I’m talking about things like no kissing on the first date or never making the first move if you’re a woman. Finally, we’re getting past the phase of hard-to-get games where the one who pretends to care the least has the most power.
Instead, hardballing is all about being upfront about what you want and feel from the outset, and with no judgment. More and more, singles and people coming out of a breakup report feeling that time is precious and not wanting to waste it on ambiguity.
Communicating your wants and needs and having an open discussion about boundaries and what makes you feel at ease is not just accepted first-date small talk now, it’s a major talking topic.
You go ahead, let your hair down
The same goes for dating outfits. At a time when dating-from-home is a thing and pre-date video call is almost a prerequisite, does it really make sense to change out of those comfy overalls and pink slides and into skinny jeans and high heels?
Embrace mindful dating
When Gwyneth Paltrow called her split from Chris Martin in 2014 “conscious uncoupling”, she got so much backlash that she later said the terminology was “a bit full of itself”.
Truth is, Paltrow’s only fault was being ahead of her time. If she had said it today, she would have been celebrated for popularizing a mindful approach to being in a relationship - and to breaking up.
Conscious dating is about being more intentional with where you place your romantic energy. It’s the ability to understand that every interaction with another person is a chance to look inside ourselves. From this perspective, dating is a tool to bring us closer to clarity.
If we can recognize that our partners in our intimate relationships are our teachers, helping us evolve as people and not simply as mating objects, then dating would become not only more enjoyable but much more meaningful.
How to really enjoy this Valentine’s Day
The best thing about dating in 2022 is that it is not intended to have only one outcome.
Opening up to new people and new experiences is not about feeding our ego or finding our soulmate at a click of a button. The goal is to explore and to collect information that will make our lives happier and more fulfilling while having fun at the same time.
As someone who has spent many Valentines crying into my pillow over yet another bad date, I have finally come to see the real joy in this day of love – chilling in my living room, wearing my LOVE2.0, and listening to old records with someone I love – be it a date, significant other, or myself.