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Dating habits are changing — again. Here are 3 trends and tips for navigating them

While the ways to connect are evolving, two dating coaches say the goal is still to get off the chats and actually go on dates.
Thomas Lohnes
Getty Images
While the ways to connect are evolving, two dating coaches say the goal is still to get off the chats and actually go on dates.

Technology, burnout and generational differences are creating new habits in the dating scene and bringing back old ones.

We spoke to two dating coaches about what trends they are seeing and how to have a good time when exploring your love life — whether you are new to the dating scene, coming back in or simply wanting to step up your game.

1. Speed dating is coming back

The mechanics of speed dating haven't really changed: You spend four to five minutes with a stranger and then move on to the next. Typically, you write down whether you'd like to see them again, and you find out later if they felt the same way about you. If so, you can set up a date.

What's changing is the renewed interest.

Damona Hoffman, a dating coach and the author of F the Fairy Tale: Rewrite the Dating Myths and Live Your Own Love Story, has seen more interest in speed dating — both among her clients and through live-event offerings. The ticketing website Eventbrite, for example, reported a 63% increase in those events in the first few months of 2023, compared with those same months in 2022.

For newcomers, Hoffman recommends focusing on whether potential matches pique your curiosity.

"The curiosity can be based on something that they say, can be based on also how they look or something they're wearing. Something, you know, that happened even outside of your five minutes of speed dating," she says.

She adds that speed dating is similar to the dating apps in that both are simply a venue to meet new people. So, don't fret too much about it.

"You only have five minutes, so you can't make too much of it. I'm always telling my clients to give somebody the benefit of the doubt. If there's something interesting there, then explore that, and take a little more time with it down the road," she says.

2. AI has entered the chat

Chats and tools powered by artificial intelligence have entered many aspects of our lives, and dating is no different.

The 2023 "Singles in America" study by Match.com found that 6% of singles had turned to AI for help with their dating life. Of those, 43% used it to craft their profile, and 37% used it to write the first message to their match. Those who had used AI reported getting more and better matches and meeting in real life faster.

This is, perhaps unsurprisingly, a trend more common among Generation Z. Men also reported using AI slightly more than women, and only 22% of all respondents said they would consider it a deal-breaker if someone used AI to craft a dating profile.

"There is a way to use an AI to help people show their best selves," says Maria Avgitidis, the CEO of Agape Matchmaking and host of the Ask a Matchmaker podcast.

She says some AI tools can help you write answers to the prompts in dating apps or pick the best-looking photos for your profile. But they shouldn't be used to alter your images.

"There's a way to do this, and I know because we do it. We have online dating managers at Agape Matchmaking who literally do this, and it's not AI. It's human intelligence, but it's just as well," she says.

To those who might think that all of this is inauthentic, Hoffman says our online conversations aren't genuine most of the time, anyway.

"A lot of times, people will tell me that they were texting with someone and it was a great, witty, fun banter, and then they get to the date and it was boring or they didn't seem the same," she says.

3. "Living apart together" is getting attention

Beyond dating, the concept of living apart together — where couples break out of the typical path of moving in together and then marrying — is being talked about more.

Hoffman says the term started making rounds online after a 2021 New York Times article, although she had seen it in her own practice, mainly among people over 55 years old who started dating after building a life for themselves — they perhaps have a job, a home or children.

While living apart together appeared to start with older daters, it's catching on with younger people too.
Dan Mullan / Getty Images
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While living apart together appeared to start with older daters, it's catching on with younger people too.

"Dating means compromising that life and bringing somebody else into it, and for some daters, it's just not that appealing," she says. "If everything else in your life is already working and you could have a relationship and not be living in the same space and having to compromise the things that are already working, you can have your cake and eat it too."

Now she sees this concept picking up among younger people who want to maintain their autonomy and individuality while in a relationship.

Hoffman says that when exploring this option, communication is key.

"I am all about empowering daters to know that they can design their own dating life, but it's all about communication ... first getting clarity on what you actually want and then being able to communicate that to your partner and knowing also that that could change," she says.

There might come a time when you change your mind and want to move in with that person, and that's OK too, she says.

Getting outside is the important step

Hoffman and Avgitidis agree that online dating can be a great way to meet new people, but the goal is to get off the chats and actually go on dates.

"I look at all elements of dating as a set of learned skills," Hoffman says. "So when you aren't practicing them, when you aren't flexing that muscle, it does atrophy a little bit."

There are signs that people are doing more of that lately and trying to meet people in more social environments. Avgitidis points to data from Eventbrite, which says it saw attendance at singles and dating events increase by 42% from 2022 to 2023.

For better success at these types of events, Avgitidis recommends two things. One is to put on your "you can approach me" uniform.

"I always tell people, wear green if you're a woman; wear light pink or light purple if you're a man. Color does matter when it comes to giving off a vibe like, 'Hey, you can come talk to me,'" she says. "These are colors that I have noticed as a matchmaker and a dating industry professional that really will attract people to come talk to you, regardless of sexual orientation."

The second one is to not get stuck on what the outcome may be.

"You have to come into the mindset [that] every single person is an opportunity. So with that said, if you are goal oriented, then I would tell you that whenever you go to an event, I want you to talk to two people that you have never talked to before. That's it. It doesn't matter what gender they are. It doesn't matter what orientation they are," Avgitidis says.

Try talking to those new people, and if after 15 minutes or so you feel uncomfortable, then you can leave.

So to bring it all together: Give people a chance to surprise you, focus on getting to the first date and find what works for your relationship.

Copyright 2024 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Alejandra Marquez Janse
Alejandra Marquez Janse is a producer for NPR's evening news program All Things Considered. She was part of a team that traveled to Uvalde, Texas, months after the mass shooting at Robb Elementary to cover its impact on the community. She also helped script and produce NPR's first bilingual special coverage of the State of the Union – broadcast in Spanish and English.