Bumble X Chatty Presents: What Does A First Date Look Like In 2023?
BY MAHI KUMAR
In a post-pandemic era, dating has really been focused on self-discovery, establishing clear boundaries and putting yourself first.
15 May 2023
From situationships to casual hook ups and ethical non-monogamy, we’ve got the hot take with the help of some Bumble backed research!
Modern dating is a minefield. There’s so many things to consider and differing levels of openness in regards to topics that in the past were a complete non-issue. Our parents had it easy. They met, fell in love, got married young and so on.
At our age, the opportunities are endless and the interconnectedness of the world means that people feel like they have options. Not everybody wants the idealistic lifestyle with a white picket fence, a house and children, and that’s ok.
I think dating in the 2020’s has become an intricate balancing act of both letting a relationship naturally unravel as you get to know a person (and experience those “firsts”) while also establishing clear boundaries and expectations off the bat. You want to feel surprised and enjoy the romance and mystery of getting to know somebody new, but with the inherent complexities of the world in the 2020’s you also want to know you’re not wasting your time or getting completely mugged off by somebody.
So what does a first date look like in 2023? Bumble, the app that started a movement by putting women in charge when dating, has put out trends that it thinks will define dating in 2023, and I’ve considered the ones that I think have been prominent and well reflected in my (and my pals) very own dating experiences to give you a better picture of how to navigate this labyrinth!
One of the first trends that caught my eye was Wanderlove which is the general increase in openness (by about 33%) of people who are more open to travel and relationships with people who are not in their current city. The world is a massive place and your perfect person may not necessarily be in your small home town.
This struck quite close to home for me because while travelling last year, I met a man who theoretically ticked a lot of boxes. We had a great time together, so much so, that he decided to fly all the way to New Zealand for our second “date” despite the fact that he was from Los Angeles. This openness means that a first date in 2023 could very well look like travelling cross country or even across the world, or a peak in holiday romances turning into long term partnerships!
Bumble also has a Travel Mode, a premium feature to use while travelling. Travel Mode allows you to change your location before or during your trip—letting locals know you’re in town. Your location will automatically be set to the city centre of your chosen destination, and an indicator in your profile will let potential matches know that you’re “travelling.” So, for those of you heading off for an adventure this is a great avenue to consider!
You know how they say “catch flights, not feelings…”. Well, why not both?
Guardrailing & Love-Life Balance
One of Bumble’s other dating predictions is Guardrailing which means the protection of priorities and boundaries. In a post-pandemic era, people have dug deep into their lives and really figured out what they want to prioritise. That, combined with more people returning to their regular routines of being in the office and having loaded up social calendars, people generally feel overwhelmed. Bumble’s research has shown us that 52% of users feel like they have established more boundaries over the last year and are actively seeking to prioritise it. 63% of users felt the need to be clearer about the emotional needs and boundaries, 59% of users wanting to be more intentional about how they put themselves out there, and 53% not overcommitting socially.
I love that Lucille McCart, APAC Communications Director for Bumble, refers to this trend as ‘healthy selfishness’. “Guardrailing is about protecting your energy, not overcommitting, and being clear about your emotional needs.” McCart explains.
“On a similar note, we have also identified the “love-life balance” trend, where people don’t just want work-life balance for themselves but for their partner too. I like this trend because it is reflective of people being considerate of not just their schedule but their partners too, with an emphasis on availability, showing up, and making space for quality time.” says McCart.
I ended a long term relationship during the pandemic, and came onto the dating scene with a view to having clear boundaries and being very intentional with how I put myself out there. My first few “situationships” were ones where I had very clearly outlined how I like to be treated. I like to be prioritised, taken out and treated out (I’m very much of the view that if you ask me out, we shouldn’t be splitting the bill…) but I wasn’t emotionally available for a full on relationship yet which meant in some aspects, I needed to hold back or withdraw.
Although setting such clear boundaries meant having hard conversations up front, I found that I was treated with respect and it was smooth sailing, and things would naturally dissolve at the appropriate time. I am currently very happily taken, with my last first date going extremely swimmingly! The princess treatment was absolutely on par, with him picking up what I was putting down and taking me to a fine dining restaurant. Safe to say, this has set the precedent for our relationship for weekly date nights, and we work hard to ensure that we both feel loved, respected and seen with our respective boundaries.
This directly flows on to the next trend which is Love-Life balance. There’s been a big shift away from thinking that job titles and demanding work are very important (at the detriment of your relationship). When it comes to their partner, approximately 54% of users cared more about their balance than career status with 13% definitively stating that they will not date someone who has a very demanding job.
So, what does this mean for a first date in 2023? I think it directly translates to up-front conversations before a date. People will be happier to set clear expectations before a first date (i.e., what kind of dates may not meet the mark) and not put up with things that don’t meet their standards.
This is a view shared by McCart who says, “Dating in 2023 is all about intention. Set an intention before you start swiping, and use this intention to guide what filters and settings you use, and the types of people you swipe on. Consider this intention when you are starting conversations, setting up dates, and getting to know people.”
“Honesty and authenticity are key themes of dating right now. Be honest (with yourself as much as others!) about what you want and build a profile that is authentic to you,” says McCart.
Personally, this looked like rejecting dates that seemed low effort as it didn’t make a great first impression. I think that people being more intentional with how they put themselves out there is great, because it really clears up the mind-games or miscommunications that come with new flings and relationships. On the dating apps, I’ve seen a lot more people have phrases such as “ethical non-monogamy” or “casual only” or “looking for something serious” set out as their dating goal. I see no downside to this, because having such conversations can really help make sure you’re on the same page and that you don’t get badly hurt in the end!
Want to start dating with intention? McCart also shared some top tips for building your most authentic profile yet:
Choose recent, high quality photos. Your first photo should always be just of you, and avoid filters, wearing sunglasses, or blurry photos. Group photos are good but not too many. Show off your smile. Happiness is attractive!
Maximise the amount of photos you use. Our data tells us that people who use more than three photos get more matches than people who use less than three photos. Your photo selection will tell a story about your personality, so use this as an opportunity to communicate your interests to your potential matches. If you love to travel, then photos of you on your most recent trip can be a great conversation starter.
With all of this being said, the most important thing is not to spend hours sitting on the couch stressing over what photos to choose - using Bumble should be a fun experience where you can meet new people, so don’t take it too seriously!
A strong bio will do wonders for you, as it is the launchpad for great conversations. Keep it positive and humorous and you can’t go wrong. Focus on what you are looking for rather than what you aren’t. For example ‘looking for something meaningful’ will be better understood than ‘if you aren’t looking for commitment keep swiping’.
You can also use Bumble’s Badges tool to easily communicate facts about yourself like your height, star sign, if you have pets, political leanings, and what kind of relationship you are looking for. The more information on your profile, the easier the conversations will flow.
The last trend that I think is more prominent is Open-Casting. Bumble’s research has shown that 1 in 3 people are more keen to date people who aren’t their stereotypical type. While this may predominantly apply to one’s looks, I think this has translated into a wide array of areas from professions to upbringings to ethnicities and backgrounds. As a full time professional working in the legal industry, I always thought I’d want a corporate man because we would relate on a day to day basis and have professional similarities. Turns out my ideal man is a tradie, and that what we professionally lack in common, we make up for in many other ways (plus… they’re so handy if your fuse box blows)!
The pandemic was a catalyst for us as a populus to be more understanding and for there to be an overall increase in open-mindedness and tolerance for differences. I’ve been on first dates in the last 12 months with people who are American/Guamese athletes, an African American navy member, a Haitian and Hawaiian jet pilot tester, an Engineer from Hawke’s Bay who taught science in Zambia for 10 years, and a half-Caucasian and Samoan sparky. Open-casting means that your first dates can look a lot different than it has in the past. From the “who” to the “what” you’re doing, it shows that the opportunities are endless and that you can feel a little more hopeful rather than fearful.
McCart reinforces this shift in tact, “Go into dating with an open mind. When you’re open casting on Bumble, you’re focusing on traits like emotional maturity and personality compatibility. It’s the opposite of type casting, which is just going after the same old thing. We know that 38% of singles are open to dating outside of their type, so why not throw out your personal rulebook and see what kind of dating experiences open up for you.”
With Q1 of the year down, hopefully this gives you some insight into where the dating scene is heading, and some well-deserved reassurance if you feel like your prince charming isn’t in your hometown! The 2020s have shown us that the world is far bigger than we know, and prioritising yourself when it comes to dating will ensure that you’re attracting the right person who respects you and your values.