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Virtual Dating And The Death Of One-Night Stands – How The Pandemic Changed Relationships Forever

August 20, 2021   By Ecosa Dream Writers
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Is hookup culture declining? Reports state that half of Millennial and Gen Z Americans are now into more quality connections and less casual sex. 

Covid-19 has allowed young people to recalibrate and rethink their approach to love, be it online or IRL. However, most survey participants said they are more confident in their virtual intimacy skills.

According to a Singles in America report from 2020:

  • 63% of singles are spending more time getting to know their potential partners
  • 59% said they had more meaningful conversations during video dates
  • 63% became less worried about their appearance when video dating
  • 69% say they are now more honest in their interactions
  • 76% of singles (on both sides of the aisle) believe it is important for a potential partner to share the same political beliefs
  • 59% of singles want to know if their date supports Black Lives Matter
  • 21% of singles will ask if a potential date has been practicing social distancing

While 71% of surveyed Americans said they didn’t have sex during the pandemic, lockdowns had us resorting to “friends with benefits” situations, with many turning to roommates for sexual gratification.

We reckon, as long as it’s in your quarantine bubble, have fun!

Intimacy has evolved to meaningful first dates rather than joining the old bandwagon of one-night stands.

The hallmark of romance now revolves around video dates and messages via online messaging apps.

Young adults are more bent on meaningful conversations and alignment on significant issues, such as politics, as they take time to get to know each other (usually) on social media.

One night stands = physical gatherings

Young people are saying goodbye to one-night stands post-lockdown.

A perspective of the past might add helpful contrast to the new trend.

Let’s have a quick ~throwback~ to the days when physical gatherings and hookups were rampant, or at least it seemed — even back in 2014, studies found that College-aged Millennials were having less casual sex than previous generations. 

Primarily due to more time on social media, living at home longer, and decreasing alcohol consumption.

Still, spending time to get to know each other was valued less and one night stands are the quickest source of validation and endorphins.

Remember the surge of dating apps such as Tinder and Bumble? Although strangers were meeting for the first time, the physical connection was instant. 

Surprisingly, these apps experienced a boom during the pandemic, Tinder recorded its highest number of swipes in March of 2020, and the use of Bumble’s video call feature increased by 70%.

Remember those endless parties with no curfews before public health guidelines and fear of transmission? Many of us felt like dating experts, keeping scores of the frequency of our sex lives. 

The influence of alcohol and drug use may have also contributed to single people being content with random sexual partners. 

Sex toy buzz

Fast forward to the pandemic, and it’s a whole different story.

First and foremost, it’s understandable that young people prefer and resort to substantial connections rather than meaningless sex. Fears about spreading the virus are real, and hygiene is of utmost importance. 

These factors have resulted in sex toys being added more and more to our online wish lists.

According to reports, the Adult Toy Megastore’s sex toy sales have tripled in New Zealand and doubled in Australia. 

Tracy’s Dog also conducted a survey around the sex toy craze in the US, Europe, Asia and Australia, of the 38% of respondents who did not own sex toys, 57% planned to purchase one during the quarantine.

Denmark and Colombia didn’t want to be left out either, as they have been experiencing a similar boost in sex toy sales.

But how are these facts related to quality dating? 

The sex toy spike is noteworthy because sales were at an all-time high when the pandemic began.

You might think this is just a transient response to the situation, but it could have a lasting effect on our approach to sex.

Of course, it’s the logical conclusion that sex toys aided in our quest for virtual intimacy during the pandemic.

Sexual intimacy in the time of lockdowns

We have found new ways to connect and be intimate in the digital world.

Let’s look at the stats. According to a survey by Virgin Media, virtual dating increased by 36% in the UK, with 60% saying they enjoy digital dates. 

As per the polls, most lovebirds say their relationships developed faster virtually, taking up 43% less time, while another 45% were more likely to go exclusive with someone if they’d had a virtual date first.

On the downside (or plus, depending on how you look at it), singles were able to decide whether they had a future with their date within 30 seconds of their first video meetup.

So, how does online dating develop into “virtual sexual intimacy”? It usually starts with messaging and video chats; the getting-to-know-each-other stage begins on dating apps. And as it progresses… well, I’m sure you can guess what happens next.

Let’s talk about sexting.

Thanks to Plenty of Fish and OnePoll we know that 51% of 2,900 Millennial and Gen Z Americans who are single or casually dating think that one-night stands will become a thing of the past after the pandemic.

As per the survey conducted by Virgin Media, It’s surprising yet heartwarming to see that 44% of men would delete their dating apps after meeting a potential partner. So we have to ask — is pandemic-style dating the solution to building an authentic connection?

Match made in heaven

This overall change in mindset has taken the past year by storm. The value placed on emotional and intellectual compatibility is a huge contributor to quality partnerships moving forward.

The need to establish deeper connections and invest in lasting relationships is more desired than ever!

Engagements and marriage were also affected by the pandemic. Data indicates that the number of marriages registered in Australia fell from a reported 113,815 in 2019 to approximately 78,000 in 2020, the largest downturn hitting Victoria at 41.7%

Intimate, scaled-back weddings have become welcomed and accepted. And people around the world are ditching ceremonies, traditions, choosing to elope and opting for unofficial nuptials (via Zoom or in backyards).

A lot of couples are craving the real deal, the actual long-term keeper. 

For those who were coupled during the pandemic, the extra time spent with partners led to many rethinking their relationships.

A British Law firm encountered an 122% increase in divorce enquires between July and October of 2020, compared with the same period the previous year. Charity Citizen’s Advice witnessed a spike in searches for online advice on ending a relationship

It’s not just romantic relationships Covid-19 has impacted, but many people are also reassessing their friendships, social circle and even their careers, with 60% of workers in the UK seeking a different direction.

The future of dating 

At least you no longer have to worry about pants on your first date.

It seems that all the inevitable self-reflection might have been onepositive result of the pandemic. Single people are now more serious about finding “the one” as they value spending time in the dating stage to make sure their partner is the perfect match.

Sustaining and nurturing relationships online won’t go away, either. We saw an increase in confidence levels as a result of virtual sexual intimacy. The intentionality and awareness about the kind of relationships we are searching for might be a forecast for dating in the future.

Engaging conversations, planned dates, more profound and lasting connections have become more important to us than ever in an era of physical isolation.

Knowing this, we can’t help but ask: why bother having one-night stands when online dates are less of a risk to our emotional and sexual health?

Go on then, sext to your heart’s content!


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