How Gen Z are changing Tinder datiquette

No games, no booze, no downtime. The Future of Dating 2023 has landed.
Photo courtesy of Tinder.

It’s that time of the year when Tinder calls and content creators come running. The Future of Dating 2023 report is out in its full, unicorn pink glory, but this time there’s an X-factor to make things even more confusing than they usually are. Gen Z.

By now we’ve scrolled past enough Ladbible and Buzzfeed bubblegum pieces about how Gen Z are changing all the things we love to hate. And I’m sure we’ve rolled our eyes often enough too. Turns out, joke’s on us – and by ‘us’, I mean anything from millennials to boomers and everything in between (Gen X, represent). Because there’s a chance this isn’t simply internet drama. Or an excuse to throw in the phrases ‘Gen Z’ and ‘authenticity’ as many times as we can without Google blackballing us for keyword stuffing. Judging by the latest Tinder report, there’s a chance that this whole Gen Z glitch might be very real.

In short, it’s life Jim, but not as we know it. From beige flags to zombeing, benching and quiet dumping, we’ve had ample signs that Gen Z may just be the most demanding of generations to hit Tinder. And, after checking out the findings from the FOD23 Tinder report, allow me to set your mind at rest – it only gets worse.

The report analysed several key dating trends sampled from Tinder users. And it seems that gone are the days when being on Tinder automatically implied a ‘wink, wink, nudge, nudge, up for all kinds of fun’ situation that could only land you hookups. Over 55% of users have been in a serious relationship that started out on Tinder. With the majority of Tinder users falling squarely within the 18 to 25 Gen Z age bracket, the dating app offers fascinating (if somewhat disturbing, for the rest of us) insight into the way digital natives operate. Let’s take a look.

  1. No alcohol on dates has become a thing. Yikes, right? I mean, who hasn’t had a medicinal glass of prosecco before meeting someone new, just to unleash the unbridled charm? I jest, of course, but in reality this may actually make for a healthier – not to mention safer – dating scenario. After all, meeting a stranger and putting yourself in a vulnerable situation when you’re off your face has never been the cleverest of life decisions. 

Eight-eight per cent of participants showed interest in sober dating; 52% are actively planning to drink less alcohol or no alcohol at all. Gen Z claim this is a lifestyle choice, with 42% believing that sobriety allows them to form a more genuine connection; 40% quoting safety reasons; and 39% insisting that no alcohol meant better quality of conversation. I’m not sure I agree with this last one (she says, tongue firmly in cheek), but the previous two reasons certainly can’t be faulted. 

Compare this to millennials surveyed in previous reports, who placed cocktails as their number one first date choice of activity. Considering that 72% of Tinder users state on their profile that they don’t drink or that they drink very rarely, this shift is considerable. What price, Havana nights on the pull?

  1. Games are for children. Playing hard to get? Ghosting? Waiting before you reply to their text? What are you, a millennial? Gen Z has no time for these childish pursuits, preferring to say it as it is. If they like you, you’ll know fast enough. And same applies to when they don’t.

According to Tinder, 18-25 year olds are 35% less likely to ghost someone than 33+ year olds, harkening back to the whole ‘authenticity’ mantra. A staggering 77% of Tinder members reply to a text within 30 minutes, 40% reply within 10 minutes and over one third reply immediately. Shock, horror, bring me the smelling salts. 

However, they’re also less quick to judge, with the majority happy to give a match a second or even third chance to meet up even if the first date produces no fireworks. Compared to millennials and Gen X, this is super generous.

The Future of Dating according to Tinder

  1. Swiping Tinder during working hours is perfectly fine. Gen Z don’t do Tinder downtime and will actively scroll at any given time during the day, including while they’re on the clock. I blame them for the whole backtracking on remote work scenario.  If they’re happy to Swipe Right while Sheznaya from accounts peers over their shoulder, imagine how much more extra the swiping will be when they’re working from home. 

Presumably this is what employers across the globe are thinking after reading that 68% of employees – that’s well over two-thirds – confess to using dating apps while at work. It gets better. Around 32% have met up with a Tinder date while they were supposed to be at work, with Tinder’s Work Mode (which opens a fake Meeting Notes tab on your desktop, you’re welcome) being accessed globally every four seconds. So much for authenticity, huh?

These are figures that have caused a bit of a turmoil globally, with employers going “Ha, told you!”. But let’s take a step back and analyse this dispassionately. Is it really any different from wasting 10 minutes while watching a YouTube video? Or scrolling Facebook? Maybe millennials and Gen Z are not that different, after all. 

  1. Diversity is more easily accepted by Gen Z than by millennials. The LGBTQIA+ community is migrating to Tinder, mostly thanks to the inclusive approach favoured by this generation and by the fact that traditional gender roles no longer play such a strong role on the dating landscape. Tinder has seen a 30% increase in genders other than male or female in the past two years, with non-binary being the fastest growing gender of choice.

29% of young singles stated that their gender has become more fluid, and 33% that their sexuality is more fluid than it was two years ago. Not placing limits on potential connections is clearly a priority with Gen Z.

  1. The situationship is here to stay. Relationships for Gen Z embrace as wide a definition as possible, and ideally the word dating isn’t even used. Whereas the hookup trend for millennials were Tinder booty calls followed by sheepish ghosting, Gen Z takes the opposite approach, kicking things off with friendship, and maybe sex, before moving on to a more committed deal if there’s a continued connection. 

The old ‘no sex before the third date’ mantra so beloved by millennials has been completely turned on its head. Have plenty of sex if you like, but keep your heart to yourself until you’re sure it’s worth it. This approach has seen many a situationship blossom into serious relationships after an appropriate amount of time and bonding.

Just make sure you don’t label it until both parties are ready to, with Tinder reporting that ‘vibing’, ‘sneaky link’ and ‘kicking it’ being preferred when you’ve just started meeting up with someone.

The last time Tinder released a similar report was in 2021, when the world had just come out of a global lockdown. While Gen Z was already on the rise, they were still finding their feet in an adult world that had previously been very much limited to zoom dates and bubbles, which made this the first opportunity for a fully-fledged analysis of current Gen Z dating trends. You may access the full report here.

Interested in more Pink magazine lifestyle news? Check out this feature about the opening of Mercury Towers.

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