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2020 has been a wild ride for everyone, and there’s no denying it that the pandemic really forced us to switch things up when it comes to dating.

New Bumble research reveals one in three Aussies have new partner priorities. More than half (52%) of single Aussies think our approach and attitudes to sexual intimacy will change as a result of COVID.

And, of those who were dating someone when lockdown started, 41% moved online and 33% have broken up, and more than half (52%) of single Aussies have been more cautious when it comes to physical intimacy.

20% of people on Bumble are “new dawn daters” – people who are newly single after going through a pandemic breakup.

The Bumble Intimacy in a Pandemic Report, has revealed that COVID-19 and government restrictions have changed the dating game for single Aussies, maybe forever, with partner priorities seeing a seismic shift.

Almost one in three (30%) Aussie singles have changed what they want from a partner as a result of the pandemic, with over half of these single Aussies wanting to take it slower and seek more meaningful connections (56%), and a similar amount wanting a long-term relationship (54%).

This is supported by Bumble’s data regarding the ‘dating intentions’ profile badge within the app, which shows that the majority of Bumble users are looking for a relationship (50%) and 38% don’t know what they are looking for yet. Only 11% are looking for something casual and just a small fraction of users clearly state that they are looking for marriage in their Bumble profile.

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According to Aussie singles, the pandemic has also changed people’s attitudes and approach to sexual intimacy (52%), with new expectations around honesty and openness when it comes to a potential partners’ physical health (59%) and an increase in anxiety for more than half of Australian Aussies (51%) as they navigate physical intimacy in the age of COVID-19.

Lockdown has also led to a shift in how we date, with restrictions around physical distancing likely to be our new norm as we move in and out of lockdowns across the world, and dating in Australia has moved online for two in five (41%) Aussies singles who were dating someone pre-lockdown.

Singles also say that the virtual dating experience has had a positive effect on them, with almost two thirds of single Aussie virtual daters (64%) saying it has boosted their confidence, with those aged 18-24 the most likely to say this is the case.

Lucille McCart, Associate Director, APAC, PR + Comms says that the pandemic has brought many new challenges to Australians, particularly those who are looking for love or who live away from their partner.

“When lockdown restrictions were announced, it essentially flipped dating on its head and we quickly saw Bumble users shift to creating more meaningful connections online rather than in person.”

“What is really interesting is that the shift to virtual dating has seen singles’ confidence grow, as many feel it has taken away some of the traditional dating pressures.”

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“In 2020, a year of unprecedented social change, it’s hopeful to see Australians strengthening virtual connections. We want our Bumble community to take their newfound confidence and use it in their IRL dates as restrictions ease for Australians once again.”

When it comes to how single Aussies define intimacy, singles say it is both physical and emotional intimacy (83% v 80%), with almost two thirds (65%) saying an emotional connection is important in order to be physically intimate with someone. However, there is some disagreement between genders on this finding, with women more likely than men to say so (73% v 59%).

Sexual activity also moved into the virtual space with a third (33%) of single Aussies exploring video and phone intimacy during the pandemic.

Chantelle Otten, sexologist and relationship expert says there is a silver lining to some of the challenges we have faced this year.

“If COVID-19 has provided us with one good thing, it’s exploring the many facets of intimacy with others and yourself in the comfort of your own space. A lot of my clients believe intimacy is just physical, but it’s also creating an intimate connection with someone through communication.”

“Virtual dating has become our new normal in many cases, and it’s great to see people are embracing and benefiting from it. Bumble’s video call feature in the app is a fantastic way to actually chemistry check, progress your conversation and ensure you feel comfortable if you aren’t ready to take the relationship IRL yet.”

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“Set up the video call like an in real life date. Dress up, make yourself a nice dinner or even order your date their favourite meal to enjoy. Keep things fun and casual and try not to put too much pressure on yourself. Enjoy being playful and exploring virtual flirting, connection and intimacy.”

The Bumble Intimacy in a Pandemic Report was conducted by Lonergan and spoke to 1,065 single Australians aged 18-50. The fieldwork was conducted between October 8 and 21, 2020.

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