Post-COVID-19 Dating Forecast: Singles Say Goodbye to One-Night Stands

As a result of the pandemic and social distancing, 55% of young, single Americans turned to technology to be sexually intimate. As the country begins to reopen, new insights from dating app Plenty of Fish show that while 42% of singles are open to physical intimacy after the pandemic and are eager to meet new people, two-thirds will continue to be just as virtually connected after the pandemic as they were during, relying on video chats (61%), sexting (54%) and phone sex (47%).

These findings, among others, were revealed in a new survey of 2,900 Millennial and Gen Z Americans by Plenty of Fish and OnePoll, underscoring how the pandemic has changed the dating game for good.

The Evolution of Intimacy

According to the study, 64% of singles said being virtually intimate during the pandemic changed what they consider intimacy to be. Nearly 6 in 10 (57%) respondents now place higher value on other types of intimacy, like emotional or intellectual intimacy, while 45% find less value in physical connection.

Despite the impact COVID-19 had on the dating landscape, singles have embraced the “new normal” including changing their dating behavior and perceptions of intimacy have changed as a result.

“It has been incredible to see how singles took the last year in stride, and in doing so, changed their overall mindset and adapted their behavior when it comes to dating,” said Kate MacLean, Resident Dating Expert at Plenty of Fish. “As we transition out of quarantine, we look forward to seeing how the tools singles leveraged during quarantine – like our livestreaming platform, video chat and more – will continue to play an important role in establishing more meaningful connections, and ultimately, relationships.”

Additional survey findings include:

A Shift in Dating Mindsets and Behavior

Over half of singles (51%) think one-night stands will become a thing of the past once the pandemic comes to an end.
– Men are more likely to agree with this sentiment than women (61% vs. 45%, respectively) and Millennials are nearly 1/3 more likely (57%) than Gen Z (39%) to believe that one-night stands are a pre-COVID-19 trend.

61% of singles believe sexting will be even more popular after the pandemic than it was before.
More than two in five (45%) singles said they feel more confident in their virtual sexual intimacy skills than their in-person skills, including 54% of men and 39% of women.

Seeking Solace in Other Places

76% of singles said they have been in a friends with benefits relationship since the pandemic began.

– Nearly nine in 10 (85%) of these friends with benefits relationships began when singles turned to their roommate (a trend Plenty of Fish has coined as “room-mate-ing”) or someone they’ve known for years platonically.
Singles also fulfilled their sexual needs via steamy TV shows (40%), subscribing to adult entertainment platforms (33%) and listening to podcasts about sex (30%).

“After what many are considering a ‘lost year,’ we see singles being more intentional than ever about who they’re spending time with and how they choose to spend that time,” said Relationship and Dating Expert, and Plenty of Fish partner, Dr. Jess O’Reilly. “With an increased focus on things like emotional intimacy, Plenty of Fish ensured singles didn’t lose an entire year after all, by providing them with a platform to make those deeper, more meaningful connections in a low-pressure way.”

The Evolution of Intimacy Study + Methodology
2,900 U.S. casually dating singles ages 18-40 were polled in April and May 2021 by OnePoll, in a study commissioned by Plenty of Fish

About Plenty of Fish
Plenty of Fish, a Match Group (NASDAQ: MTCH) company, is one of the largest global online dating companies and is available in 11 languages and more than 20 countries. Unlike many dating offerings today, Plenty of Fish offers a less prescriptive, low-pressure user experience that allows singles to discover what they’re looking for.