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What do the post-pandemic singles want?

Then the pandemic hit.

Like many bachelors, Mr. Sommers spent months alone. When he started dating again, he was surprised to find that his tastes had changed.

“I realized I need a content partner,” says Mr. Sommers, 59, a marketing executive in Washington, D.C.

Meet the post-pandemic single.

Like everyone else, single people have rethought their priorities in recent years. Many say they’re more anxious to find a partner than they were in the past — and they’re dating more consciously, according to the results of the latest Singles in America study, conducted by researchers at the Kinsey Institute and funded by Match , the dating app. They also adapt to political and social issues.

They are even (slightly) less interested in appearance.

Single people had a lot of time to think during the pandemic, says Helen Fisher, a senior research fellow at the Kinsey Institute and the study’s lead investigator. Now many have a clearer idea of ​​what they want – and what they need to do to get it.

Researchers surveyed a national, demographically representative sample of 5,000 single Americans ages 18 and older who are not in a committed relationship. Match funds the research, although survey participants are not collected through the app.

Nearly three quarters of participants say they want to find a partner who wants to get married, about on par with last year and up from 58% in 2019. And half of single people say they are even more eager to get into a relationship this year found than in the past.

Research has shown that major stressful events can increase people’s desire for connection and commitment — and that romantic relationships can prevent anxiety. A separate study of single people during the pandemic found that those who worried during the pandemic became more selective: They became more interested in finding a stable partner, says Liesel Sharabi, an assistant professor at the School of Communication at Arizona State University, a researcher on the study.

Of course, not everyone is looking for a couple. Some single people found themselves enjoying spending time alone during the pandemic, says Bella DePaulo, a social psychologist who studies single people.

Still, most post-pandemic singles are interested in dating, according to Justin Garcia, executive director of the Kinsey Institute and investigator of the Singles in America study. This is how their behavior and attitudes change.

They are more aware.

Nearly three-quarters of single people say they only want a first date with someone they already know they have a good connection with, the survey shows. To find out, they spend more time on phone calls and video chats. Today, a quarter of singles say they video chatted with a date before meeting in person, up from 6% in 2019.

When they meet, just over a third of singles say they will wait to have sex. And – surprise! – men were more likely than women to say they would wait: 40%, compared to 33% of women.

“A lot of times before, people just went through the motions,” says Yuthika Girme, a social psychologist at Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, British Columbia, who studies singles and romantic relationships. “Now they say to themselves, ‘I must be dating with intent.'”

They search deeper.

Every year, researchers ask single people what they look for in a partner. The number 1 answer this year is “someone to trust and confide in”. It’s always high on the list.

Three properties are new to the top five since the pandemic: singles said they look for partners who are comfortable with their own sexuality; able to communicate their own wants and needs; and who are emotionally mature. (The latter reached the top five for the first time last year, as the pandemic raged.)

A sense of humor remained on the list – it’s always a favorite.

And what fell out of the top five during the pandemic? Physical attraction.

They are more flexible.

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

Just over half said they would be willing to embark on a long-distance relationship, up from 35% last year, a development researchers say is driven by the rise in remote and hybrid work.

They adapt to the times.

Nearly 60% of single people say it is important for their partner to share their political beliefs. This is lower than a record high of 78% in 2020. (In 2016 this was 50%).

But abortion is a hot topic: 78% of singles of childbearing age say the Supreme Court ruling striking down Roe v. Wade has changed their sex lives. Two out of three single women will not date a partner who has an opposing view on the matter. And 13% of active daters said the decision has left them hesitant so far.

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

During the pandemic, he says he learned to enjoy his own company. That made him less afraid of being alone — and more selective about who he dates. There are men who are handsome but superficial. In are those who show genuine interest in him and know how to communicate.

Now when he meets a man he likes, he goes on two dates with him. If the man only talks about himself or seems indifferent, he moves on.

And he no longer kisses on the first date.

“During the pandemic, I learned to be happy with myself and learned what I want,” he says. “So I can be more focused now.”

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