The pandemic changed, well, everything. Dating was especially hit hard in the last year: Flings became non-existent, casual meetups were done over the phone and Zoom happy hours replaced awkward in-person dates. But the biggest shift hasn’t necessarily been the dates itself; it’s the people who are dating.
At the very start of the pandemic when we were all hunting for toilet paper and tie-dyeing our entire closet, many singles were hopeful that their dating life would resume after a two-week stay at home. The research reflects that very mentality: Back in March 2020, S’More, a dating app company, surveyed 1,000 dating app users and found that most singles were most concerned with physical attraction and location when swiping on dating apps. By the end of 2020, they polled the same users and noticed that their focus shifted to compatibility and chemistry.
“We compared the results of our most recent survey to one we conducted in March of 2020, at the very beginning of the pandemic,” Adam Cohen-Aslatei, CEO of S’More, told Forbes. “We found that the top two drivers of online dating behavior — physical attraction and location — had been supplanted by the need for compatibility and chemistry. Sexual connection also dropped in importance from March to December.”
The data supports the sentiment on most dating apps right now, including S’More. Now more than ever, people are looking for authentic connections, something that’ll last even during the toughest of times (a global pandemic, for example). “Our data shows that people are starting to expect more from dating apps. They want real connections, not the fake photos and hyper-sexualization that has characterized so much of online dating over the past decade,” Cohen-Aslatei continued.
But let’s be clear, we’re not going to go from zero to 100 in a second ( a year, even). In the coming year, the S’More users who were surveyed vow to be more authentic, treat people more respectfully and try not to pass judgment too quickly when using dating apps.
As daters change their habits, it’s important for the top dating apps to meet the moment. S’More is already leading the way with features that purposefully make online dating a less superficial experience. Take their chat-to-unblur feature, for example: S’More users aren’t able to see a clear photo of another user until they have a meaningful conversation with them, hence the feature’s name. “Our chat-to-unblur feature, the first of its kind in the marketplace, encourages people to get to know more about a person before making a dating decision,” Cohen-Aslatei said in the same interview with Forbes. “On most swiping apps, we make decisions in under three seconds without considering anything about the person but a headshot. And let’s face it, there is a 50% chance the photo is outdated, overly airbrushed, or fake.”