How to date in 2022

A young couple wearing yellow outfits sitting on a scooter kissing
Will we get to date in person this year? Here's hoping! (Getty Images)

With common sense and a fair wind, we'll emerge from the pandemic this year - and that means dating is back, and so are dating trends.

Will you see out the year in a Throuple, or be cocooning with The One? Will your dates be spent walking and taking, or engaged in extreme sports? And do you have to actually meet IRL to fall in love?

Things are definitely changing, says dating expert Tina Wilson.

"Singles are getting choosy in 2022. Hook-up culture died during COVID-19 and isn’t making a comeback in 2022.

"Casual dating will replace it, with singles looking for quality over quantity, but without the desperation of wanting to jump into a relationship just to make do," she says.

"During the pandemic filtered selfies and self-promotional bios were spurned in favour of banter, good writing, and amusing profiles, and we're seeing a much more personal approach."

Young woman texting on her smartphone and smiling. Female reading text messaging on her mobile phone.
Time to get personal - and not in that way. (Getty Images)

Hayley Bystram of the Bowes-Lyon Partnership Ltd dating agency, has several further predictions - firstly, she says, we'll be taking the tech out of hooking up.

"People are getting screen-fatigued and crave more personal connection after Covid forced us apart from others," she says. "People want to hear someone’s voice to make a connection rather than building a rapport through texts and Whatsapp messages.

"Telephone calls will play more of an important part in the dating journey, speaking to someone before you arrange to meet rather than just messaging."

She also believes that shared values will acquire greater importance.

"Covid has made people prioritise and realise what's important in life – they will look to meet with people who share their future aspirations and visions and are like-minded in what they want in life and a relationship.

"People will be open and upfront about their relationship expectations and move on quickly from people that are not in alignment," she adds.

Husband and wife embracing in front of home
Shared values and smiliarities matter this year. (Getty Images)

Lastly, Bystram says, "people will be more proactive about how they date and not just rely on flicking through dating apps or leaving things to chance.

"They will have more intention about their dating plans, asking friends if they know single people, joining networking groups or starting new hobbies to meet someone who shares similar interests – or joining a personal matchmaking agency and ‘outsourcing’ their dating life to a professional."

According to the experts at sex and relationship store Lovehoney, the pandemic has definitely changed the dating world for good. Here's what their relationship experts, Ness Cooper and Callisto Adams think we're likely to see in the coming year.

Watch: What to know about dating in 2022

1 Shared beliefs

A gay couple hold placards during the demonstration. Movimiento Marica Madrid goes ahead with the concentration at Puerta del Sol, to denounce the homophobic aggressions and against the LGTBi collective, even after it became known that the aggression suffered on last Sunday in Malasa�a, by a young man was consensual. A 20-year-old gay man reported to the police, that on last Sunday, he was assaulted by a group of hooded men, in the entrance to his apartment block, in the Malasa�a neighborhood. Today he has retracted and told the police that the wounds were not the result of an assault. (Photo by Gustavo Valiente / SOPA Images/Sipa USA)
If you don't agree on the important stuff, it's not going to work. (Getty Images)

'Opposites attract' might be a thing - at least, till it comes to Brexit and Boris Johnson. According to Cooper and Adams, "we’re currently going through a time where our belief systems are being challenged, and individuals exploring dating in 2022 are likely to focus on forming relationships that match their beliefs more than ever before.

"On top of this, there will be a rise in individuals trying to date those with similar political opinions and goals."

This year, it's less 'Good sense of humour', more 'Good moral compass.'

2 Vaccine status

Couple of young people showing the  bandage on the arm after getting the vaccination from coronavirus. New normal concept of people received the vaccine.
Matching jabs? You're good to go. (Getty Images)

Social status used to be what mattered. Now it's vaccine status - and the un-vaxxed could find themselves struggling for a date.

"With the roll-out of more boosters and vaccine passports coming into our daily lives I see individuals focusing on dating those who have similar vaccine status," says Cooper.

"Part of this may also be influenced not just the safety factors vaccines lead to, but how access to venues and events may be limited due to some having different vaccine statuses.

"After having multiple lockdowns, people are desperate to socialise, and they want to share this with people they may become romantically involved with."

3 Waiting longer

"I also like small cakes. We're a match!" (Getty Images)
"I also like small cakes. We're a match!" (Getty Images)

Once, we may have gone straight from 'hi' to bed with barely a drink in between, but the long celibacy of lockdown has made us more aware of the need for emotional fulfilment - and for many, the Tinder merry go round is slowing.

"The early stages of dating might last a little longer since more people are becoming aware of the tremendous importance of emotional fulfilment in a romantic relationship," says Cooper.

"To spot the signs of whether there’s a chance of emotional satisfaction with someone requires taking time to know the person - and to know if you match each other’s energy."

Shared values, kindness and intentions are all more important nowadays, and many are willing to take the time to find out more before leaping in.

Read more: The Dating Trends That Will Define 2022

4 Flirting with bots

young aroused and excited sex addict man watching porn mobile online in laptop computer light night at home desk in pornography addiction and internet pornographic content concept
"I'd love to meet you in real life...oh." (Getty Images)

Wait. what? No, really. We may not be quite at the Bladerunner stage of romance with robots yet, but according to Cooper and Adams, "falling in love, or feeling things for a chatbot is so near to being normalised, it’s probably close to becoming a trend."

It's important to remember that your confidante is not actually... real? But don't let that stop you.

"The pandemic had its effect on each of us, and it left many people feeling alone and desperate for connection," explains Adams.

"Staying in the comfort zone while having a sense of connection was exactly what people needed.

"It’s starting to get big - though how mainstream it will get is hard to predict."

Inevitably, a chatbot romance won't lead to a real-life meeting, marriage or babies. But for the busy executive, it may be just what they need.

5 Setting boundaries, and spotting red flags

A young guy is leaning in to kiss a girl be she is frowning and making a hand gesture to stop him. They are wearing casual clothes.
"That wouold be a no." (Getty Images)

We're becoming better at setting boundaries when it comes to romance, thanks to an increased focus on mental health and the importance of self-care. Daters will also be more aware of 'red flags' thanks to the #metoo movement and shared experiences on social media.

"Red flags and boundaries are correlated," says Cooper. "When you set your boundaries, you can more easily spot a red flag that yells “your boundary will crossed!”.

Rather than just going along with behaviour or comments that make them feel uncomfortable, daters are increasingly willing to challenge 'off' remarks and expectations, leading to better, healthier relationships.

Read more: The six 'green flags' that prove your date's a keeper

6 Better self-care

A mature woman wakes up and stretches in early morning light
Don't worry, be happy - and look out for your own needs. (Getty Images)

If the pandemic has taught us anything, it's the importance of good mental and physical health. Entering the physical dating world after time away means many will be 're-setting' and this time around, self-care comes first, whether it's not risking covid for the sake of snog, or not risking happiness for the sake of someone who won't commit.

"The Pandemic has shown us how capable we are of patience - and highlighted other ways that lead to connection," say Adams and Cooper.

Whether it's safe sex, leaving a toxic relationship or spotting red flags early and challenging them, this year, dating is about self-preservation first - falling in love later.

Watch: Pandemic fuels new trends in the online dating world