We know, we know, you’re probably tired of hearing it, but this year has affected pretty much every aspect of our lives, including our dating behavior. If you’ve kept up with Plenty of Fish dating trends from years past, you’ll know there’s always a healthy dose of pop culture and current event inspiration, but these things are more relevant than ever in 2020 when everything is constantly shifting and changing (read: a never-ending rollercoaster we’re just not sure how we feel about).
The real MVP’s are all you singles out there who continue to do your thing and navigate the wild world of dating under truly unique circumstances. You keep us hopeful, you keep us motivated, but most importantly, you keep us informed. So without further ado, Plenty of Fish brings you our fourth annual list of must-know dating trends (your dating dictionary if you will) for 2020 and into the new year – hold onto your hats!
COVID Made Me Do It
We’d be remiss if we didn’t acknowledge the effect a global pandemic has had on the world of dating. Singles suddenly have a whole new set of expectations, and there really is a ‘new normal’ to adjust to (we’re sorry, we said it). Thus, new dating trends emerge:
- Apocalypsing (/ah-poc-a-lyps-ing): Treating every relationship like it’s your last and getting super serious with someone you just started dating.
Use case: Alex apocalypses every relationship — but who can blame him? This pandemic has shown us that you never know what’s going to happen, so might as well make things count!
We know this behavior isn’t necessarily unique to 2020, but it sure feels more common, and much more relevant (yikes). Turns out, one-third of singles know someone who has done this, and Gen Z is all about apocalypsing, with nearly 1/3 admitting to doing this themselves.
- Maskerading (/mas-kuh-reyd-ing): Fronting that you care about COVID-19 safety precautions for optics or to impress a match.
Use case: I was super stoked to find someone who’s also taking COVID guidelines seriously, but she’s totally maskerading! She posted an Instagram story last night and she was at a huge house party.
We hate to be the bearer of bad news, but one in five Gen Zers are maskerading in front of potential dates. Make sure you’re talking the talk and walking the walk.
- Fauci-ing (/fau-chee-ing): Declining to date someone because you don’t feel they’re taking COVID-19 seriously enough.
Use case: If I had a nickel for every time I fauci’d someone this year, I could pay off my student loans.
If you’re caught maskerading, or just choosing to opt-out of guidelines (we’re not pointing fingers here, just telling it how it is), you’ll likely fall victim to this trend. Dr. F is trying to keep us all safe and healthy, so singles are returning the favor! In fact, ¼ of people know someone who has declined a date because they felt the other person wasn’t taking COVID-19 seriously.
- Zoomlander-ing (/zoom-lan-der-ing): When a Zoom date spends the entire time checking themselves out in the camera instead of looking at the person they’re on a date with.
Use case: I had a virtual date last night and it was pretty good, except for the guy was zoomlander-ing the whole time! I’m glad he was feeling himself, but what about me?
One-third of young adults (that’s you, Gen Z and Millennials) have been Zoomlandered but, hey, it’s not their fault they’re really, really ridiculously good looking!
- Tok-Blocking: (/tawk-blok-ing): When you watch TikTok all day and realize it’s massively interfering with your dating life.
Use case: Girl, you have to get off TikTok for a day and try a dating app instead, you’re tok-blocking yourself into staying single!
Most of us have been there at one point or another. Multiple lockdowns have us mindlessly scrolling through the popular social media platform not even realizing hours have passed, oops!
If you’re single and wanting to mingle, swap TikTok out for a dating app or virtual date, and thank us later – don’t play yourself!
Pop Culture and Beyond
Beyond the pandemic, 2020 has been a year filled with pop culture and news-worthy happenings that everyone is caught up on, because really what else are we all doing? From celebrity slip-ups and drama, to highly anticipated albums, it all trickles back down into dating behavior and we’re here to document it! Then, of course, there’s those trends that don’t come from the news but are just plain relevant AF right now.
- Endgame-ing (/end-geym-ing): Accidently sending a NSFW photo or video (if you know, you know) to someone you’re dating.
Use case: You won’t believe this, I almost endgamed John and we’ve only been on two dates! I guess I should keep my NSFW photos away from the photos of my dog on my phone.
Endgame-ing happens to the best of us, including our favorite Captain who recently found himself in a similar situation. Roughly 1/4 of singles have sent and received a NSFW photo or video to or from someone they were dating. Our suggestion? Keep those ‘special’ photos far, far away from the rest, because nothing kills the romance like an accidental unsolicited pic of, well, you know.
- Folklore-ing (/fo-klore-ing): Being so focused on fairytale romance that expectations don’t match reality.
Use case: Betty had the perfect guy but she totally folklored him because she’s still waiting for some knight in shining armor to sweep her off her feet, so unrealistic!
Like the Millennial romance queen herself, almighty TSwift, 1 in 5 Millennials admit to doing this while searching for their own Love Story. We all want rom-com, love song level love, but by falling victim to this trend, you could be leaving someone great behind! Healthy, stable relationships are the fairytales we’re dreaming of these days!
- Sanitizing (/san-i-tahyz-ing): The act of wiping your social media of all photographic evidence of a past relationship.
Use case: We broke up yesterday and I’ve already sanitized my Instagram. Once I sage my apartment, I’ll officially be over it.
Our hands aren’t the only thing worthy of sanitation this year. More than 1/3 of singles have sanitized their social media by erasing every photo of an ex post-breakup, and almost 50% of women know someone who has cleansed their social channels. In the world of Instagram and Facebook, how else is someone supposed to know you’re single these days? Out with the old!
- Waldo-ing (/wawl-doh-ing): When someone only posts group photos on their dating profile, making it hard to determine who they are and what they look like (also known as Wally-ing for our friends in the UK).
Use Case: This guy is a total Waldo – all his dating app photos are group pics! How am I supposed to know which one he is?!
Where’s Waldo might have been fun when we were kids, but playing it IRL is not anyone’s cup of tea, especially when it comes to dating. While this is beyond frustrating for everyone, interestingly, women are more likely to experience Waldo-ing (45%) than men (33%). Either way, kiss those group photos goodbye – don’t be a Waldo!
- Stalk-blocking (/stawk blok-ing): Making your social media accounts private so prospective dates can’t creep on you, because hello – no one likes a creeper!
Use Case: So we haven’t even met in person but he already “liked” a bunch of photos months deep on my Instagram, I stalk-blocked him so hard after that
Not to be confused with tok-blocking, stalk-blocking takes a more serious turn. Blocking social stalkers in today’s digitally driven world is pretty common, with 1 in 5 singles knowing someone who has experienced stalk-blocking and nearly 1/4 of Millennials have stalk-blocked themselves. We don’t blame you, staying safe and comfortable online is a must!
- Bradying (/braid-e-ing): Ending a long-term relationship despite friends and family thinking you’re making a mistake.
Use case: As if breakups aren’t tough enough, I’m always Bradying because my friends and fam get too attached to my girlfriends.
This trend’s namesake QB QT knows a thing or two about moving on despite others’ opinions. You do you, Boo! Twenty-five percent of singles have been in this difficult situation. At the end of the day, you know what’s best for you, and don’t let your friends and family tell you otherwise. A grace period for mourning is allowed, but make sure you get their full support when you decide to get back out there!
- Hey & Pray (/Hey and prey): Indiscriminately spamming every match with a basic “Hey there,” “Hey you,” “Hey,” “Hi,” and praying that someone will respond and be interested.
Use case: Ugh, this is the fifth guy this week to hey & pray me, what do you even say back to just “hey,” it’s so boring!
If you rolled your eyes hard at this one, we feel you. A massive 2/3 of women have been bombarded with the impersonal and unimpressive opener “hey” on dating apps, with over 60% of Millennials experiencing this. We’ve said it once and we’ll say it again, you’re so much better than a simple “hey” message. If you’re really interested in someone, get those creative juices flowing and put in some real effort!
For Our Friends Across the Pond
Just as trends have been popping up here in North America, we can’t forget about what singles are noticing over in the UK! We hear you too, and more dating trends equals more fun (well, sometimes), so here we go!
- Twice Baked (/twy-s-bayk-d): When someone’s chat is twice baked and you have the same repetitive boring COVID convos, from sourdough to banana bread.
Use case: I just had to get out of that chat, it was so twice baked and I’m utterly sick of talking about the pandemic.
29% of single Brits have found themselves continually having the same Covid-themed conversation over and over – we’re talking banana bread, Joe Wickes’ PE classes and one walk a day on repeat – we get it! Time to mix in some other conversation starters.
- Baby Zoomers (bay-bee zu-murs): A term to describe the new ‘generation’ of babies conceived during lockdown.
Use case: My mate Jessica just told me she’s pregnant, so I congratulated her on her future baby zoomer!
Move aside Boomers, lockdown has created a whole new generation. Almost a fifth (19%) know someone who has gotten pregnant during lockdown. Baby Zoomers are even more prevalent amongst Millennials, with 30% knowing someone expecting a lockdown baby. There are only so many ways to pass the time I suppose, so good on you Brits!
- Barnard-castling (/bahr-nahr-d-cahs-ling): Getting caught out by your partner for using outlandish excuses.
Use case: I’ve just Barnard-castled my man after he tried to bluff his way out of why he didn’t have dinner ready. His excuse was downright pathetic!
One in six (16%) know someone who has been caught out by their partner in this fashion a la Dominic Cummings. Boomers seem to be the least likely to tell a tall tale as only 7% know someone who has been foiled, compared to over a quarter (28%) of Gen Z. A hot tip: just tell the truth to your partner, but if you’re going to make an excuse, you better make sure it’s a believable one!
- Connell-vision (/kon-nell-vish-un): Fancying someone based on their fashion sense
Use case: I’ve been trying to get to know Brian for his personality, but I’ve got total Connell-vision, I only fancy his outfits. I can’t help it though, he’s got such great style!
Just as the nation drooled over Normal People’s Connell and his famous chain, over a tenth (12%) of singles admit they’ve fancied someone purely for their fashion sense, and almost a fifth (18%) know someone else who has done this as well. Great fashion sense is a major bonus, but make sure they’re personality is as great as their overcoat.
- Proofing (/pru-fing): Giving a relationship time to breathe and not rushing into it.
Use case: I’ve told my mate Alex that I think him and his new girl need some proofing before they move in together, they don’t know each other very well yet!
It seems baking is having quite the impact this year right down to relationships. Almost half (46%) of singles seem to have taken advice from the Great British Bake Off, and are giving their relationship time to reach it’s full potential instead of popping it in the oven right away and hoping for the best. Like the very best of any dough or coupling, room to breathe is a great key to success!