Pandemic or not, the evolution of social dating has been rapid. Pre-pandemic, dating apps were already popular, with 39% of US couples meeting online in 2019. Despite this, online dating fatigue can be very real and you might find yourself longing to make new connections more casually.
Meeting someone in a non-dating context offers something different from standard online dating. One way isn’t better than the other — it depends on what you’re looking for — but a casual approach can allow you to be friends with someone before the relationship becomes something more.
There’s less pressure too. This lets you get to know someone for who they are rather than frantically going down your ideal partner checklist to see what standards they meet.
So, what exactly is this new phenomenon — known as social dating — that’s evolved so quickly in recent years, and is it the right approach for you? Also, with the world slowly beginning to function as normal again, what does the future hold for this new casual way of dating?
What Is Social Dating?
The social dating approach shifts the focus away from finding your future spouse and onto meeting new people. What does this mean in practice?
Well, instead of questioning your latest matches about their future goals and whether they want kids, you should focus on establishing a friendship. After that, you can see in time if sparks fly. And if they don’t, it’s no problem. Most of us could use more friendship in times like these anyway!
The rise of social dating has led to dating platforms seeing their pandemic-spawned features becoming more and more popular. These features put less focus on romantic dating and more on making new, meaningful connections.
For example, Tinder’s Swipe Night and Bumble’s Night In are both features that focus on friends and networking, rather than finding a match or love. Both of these are games that users can play together on the platform. A fun way to break the ice and get to know someone new!
Another example is Zoosk’s online community, Zoosk Live. This live streaming platform lets you connect with others in real-time. Make new connections through interacting with streamers, chatting with other viewers worldwide, giving gifts, and even streaming yourself! It’s easy to jump into any stream, join the conversation, and become part of the fun social environment. This is a great example of a social dating platform that allows users to focus on making new connections, without the pressure of traditional online dating.
Of course, different ways of dating work for different types of people. The idea of social dating may not appeal to you, especially now that things are opening up, and that’s okay. But, if you’re intrigued by the idea, here are a few reasons why it might be time to get involved!
Social Dating May Be a Good Idea for You If…
1. You use dating apps but hardly ever go on IRL dates
There’re lots of reasons why people who download dating apps hardly ever meet up with anyone in person. It might be that they get nervous or convince themselves they’re not ready for a relationship right now. Or maybe they have a habit of picking apart potential partners to find reasons not to meet up with them. Sound familiar?
Social dating can help solve this issue by taking the pressure off IRL dates. Casual experiences move the focus onto making new connections, rather than worrying about a relationship’s future. Social dating can also help you to feel more comfortable with someone before meeting IRL. This is especially true as video dating becomes ever more common.
2. You find yourself putting too much pressure on your matches and/or on yourself
Do you have a tendency to go on one date with someone and immediately find yourself wanting to act like their girlfriend or boyfriend? And at the same time wonder why they haven’t done the same to you? These can be signs that you might be putting too much pressure on your dating experience.
Social dating can be a good reminder that a first date should be like a fun interview. They don’t need to be more than a relaxed, get-to-know-you process. So, give yourselves time to learn more about each other before jumping into something super serious.
3. You find yourself in relationships that don’t meet your needs
It can be easy to put someone on a pedestal and fall in love with that version of them instead of the person in front of us. Unfortunately, this can lead to a relationship with someone who isn’t right for you.
Social dating is great at tackling this. Since it drags out the get-to-know-you phase, people end up being more honest with each other, without the pressure of being in “dating mode”. This can help you both to realize that, while you might be attracted to each other, you’re not suited for a long-term relationship and might be better off as friends.
Is Social Dating Here to Stay?
It’s a pretty safe assumption to say that social dating is here to stay. Most of us made changes during the pandemic that we’ll carry with us into our post-pandemic lives. Whether yours involves a reviewed outlook on your work-life balance or a new focus on virtual dating, it’s likely a casual approach to making new connections will continue well into the future.