What It's Really Like To Be Single In 2017, Because "Hookup Culture" & "Dating Apocalypse" Don't Define Us
Whenever my friends in long-term relationships give me dating advice, I often think, hmm that sounds rational but they also don't really "get" what it's like to be a single in America 2017. The dating climate is definitely a lot different than it was five years ago. For starters, you've probably heard a lot about the "hookup culture", but also how Millennials are having less sex than previous generations. You may have heard about the "dating apocalypse", but also how dating apps are more popular than ever in the U.S. and that the majority of Americans say online dating is a good way to meet people. You may believe that we're all still in touch with our exes and past partners due to our obsession with social media and our smartphones, but we're also all ghosting, zombieing, benching, and breadcrumbing each other. So, yeah, being single right now is, well, complicated af.
Luckily, Match just released its seventh annual Singles in America survey, the nation’s largest, most comprehensive annual survey of single people living in the U.S., to set the record straight about what it's really like to be single now across the country. The survey, conducted in December 2016, includes responses from a demographically representative sample of 5,509 single men and women, ages 18 -70+. From our attitudes about sex to the latest dating trends, the survey covers it all — and there's some good news for feminist singles.
“The annual Singles in America study has once again uncovered some remarkable new trends — including men’s overwhelmingly positive view of feminism and feminists, in the boardroom and the bedroom," Dr. Helen Fisher, biological anthropologist and Chief Scientific Advisor to Match said in a press release. "We’ve captured the great spring forward in gender equality."
Here are the major takeaways from the survey:
1What We Really Judge Potential Dates On
When it comes to making assumptions about potential first dates, what holds the most weight? Considering we're meeting so many people online instead of IRL, it makes sense that someone's online behavior holds the most weight.
The most important? It's a tie between someone's social media posts and their photos. Next comes their grammar, then their teeth/smile, and next up is their outfit.
2How We Really Feel About Modern Dating
Technology, instant gratification, swiping left and right — what's it all doing to us? Match's survey reveals it's got us somewhere in between being hooked and totally fatigued.
While 15 percent of singles say they feel addicted to the process of looking for a date, it's Millennials who are feeling the most obsessed. In fact, 125 percent of Gen Y are more likely to say they feel addicted to dating than older generations. While men are 97 percent more likely to feel addicted to dating than women, 54 percent of women feel more burned out. I hear you, ladies.
3How We're Meeting Our Partners
With online dating being bigger than ever, many wonder exactly how well it really works in the grand scheme of things. In 2016, I went on 15 first dates and 12 of them were from dating apps. But it all depends on what you consider effective and what you're looking to get out of it: Hookups? Dates? Long-term relationships? Marriage?
While last year Pew found that five percent of Americans who are married or in a committed relationship say they met their partner online, 88 percent say they met their spouse offline.
But if you're curious about how singles are finding dates, Match found that 40 percent of singles have dated someone they met online, while only 25 percent met a first date through a friend. In fact, Millennials are 75 percent more likely than Boomers to have dated someone online, and 57 percent more likely than those of other generations to have created a profile on a dating app.
4How We Feel About Using Our Phones On First Dates
We may be "meeting" our dates on our phones, but that doesn't mean we want our phones out when we're meeting them IRL. Seventy-five percent of singles are turned off if you answer your phone without offering any explanation while on a date. Sixty-six percent will get annoyed if you text someone during a date and 58 percent don’t even want you to place your phone on the table face up.
What if you get a text or two during the date? You'll piss off 57 percent of singles. And don't take it with you to the bathroom either — and 41 percent that's pretty rude too.
While gender equality has made significant improvements, we still have a ways to go, as evidenced by the actions (and comments) by Trump and his administration's first two weeks in office. But the good news is that gender equality is at least making strides in the dating world.
Fifty-nine percent of single men think that feminism "has changed the dating rules for the better," saying that dating is now safer, more enjoyable, and easier. Most single women think the rise of gender equality has made them pickier and more empowered in their dating life.
6How We Feel About Traditional Dating Rules
Putting more outdated gender roles to bed, hetero single men are majorly in favor of women asking for their number, are the first to call after a good date initiate the first kiss, and initiate sex for the first time. Take that, The Rules!
But here's where the discrepancy comes in: hetero women aren't taking advantage of it. Only 29 percent of women initiate the first kiss or sex for the first time (23 percent). And, only 13 percent ask a guy for his number.
Remember that "rule" about not discussing politics on a first date? Well, eff that. The 2016 election was an unavoidable topic of discussion on every one of my first dates in the past year — and I'm happy it came up. And it looks like I'm not alone.
When it came to the biggest turnoffs, who you voted for was almost just as important as to whether you even voted. Forty-four percent of singles dislike those who voted for Trump, and 42 percent aren't interested in those who did not vote in the Presidential election.
8How We Feel About Sex On The First Date
While Millennials are actually less interested in sex than Baby Boomers, that doesn't mean they abide by a three-date rule or some other BS about when it's "OK" to sleep with someone.
One in three singles have had sex before a first date and single Millennials are 48 percent more likely to have had sex before a first date than all other generations. Match theorized that Millennials are using sex to interview someone before committing further energy to dating them (time saver?) or to try to turn a hookup into a relationship.
9Where We Meet IRL
The survey also looked into where singles flirt offline, because oddly enough, that seems harder to do these days. The bar took the top spot, with 64 percent saying they meet there. Next up was the laundromat at (43 percent,) and the gym (43 percent). GTL was on to something.
10What Are We Looking For?
The answer's not that simple. According to the survey, Thirty-five percent of single men think casual sex can be exciting and 18 of single women say the same, and 29 percent of men and 15 percent of women say a one-night-stand can be the best sex.
As for Millennials, living in the supposed "dating apocalypse" they're actually 30 percent more likely than any other generation to want to find a relationship in 2017.
Check out the rest of the survey to learn more about what it's like to be single and dating in 2017, because our lives are a lot more complex then a catchy phrase.