There’s no beating around the bush: the pandemic has had a monumental effect on the lives of Australian singletons. With stay-at-home orders having been in place for much of the country, for much of this year, meeting new people has been much harder than usual. Consequently, our attitude towards sex has changed.
It was certainly true, at the start of the pandemic at least, that more and more of us were resorting to using the various dating apps in order to seek out connections with others, with some even going as far as looking for love in other countries around the world, in the hope of one day being able to travel there in order to meet up with their pen-pals.
However, even our attitude to digital dating has taken a downturn recently, with ‘the closing time effect’ dating trend taking hold.
There also came the dilemma of choosing just one person to be part of a ‘singles bubble’, causing many to wonder if their occasional booty call could become their permanent fling for the unknown duration of the lockdown. Many singles eventually decided they were likely to be better going without, than to “put up with” someone they used to only see on a casual basis, and were unsure what they would be like to live with (or see all the time).
Watch TikTok star Rachael Evren sum up the struggles of dating in Australia in 2021 in the video below.
To put this all into context, and to shed a light on exactly how our attitude towards dating has changed in the wake of the pandemic, dating app Hinge has compiled some research, which indicates Australians are not just more focused on finding a genuine connection with someone, but the desire to experiment further in the bedroom is on the rise too.
The prominent outcome of Hinge’s research suggests Australians are far more keen on ‘sexploration’ than ever before, with “almost half (45%) of all those surveyed saying they want to explore new sexual desires with a partner, and 79% saying it’s important for a partner to be open and adventurous in the bedroom.
What is perhaps more interesting, is that while being keen to explore further is a common trend, respondents say they are more willing to wait to explore these desires with a partner, compared to hopping into bed after the first date. “A third of respondents say they are waiting longer to have sex with new partners because of Covid fears,” the research relates.
Logan Ury, Director of Relationship Science at Hinge said, “This summer is a period of sexploration for Australians. Singles are having sex less frequently”, 42% of Australian Hinge users said they’re now less likely to have one-night stands, “but exploring their deepest sexual desires more often.”
“Because of the pandemic, many people spent time alone, looking inward, and tapping into their imagination. They’ve gotten more in touch with who they are and what they want.”
“And that means they’re ready to unlock new sexual fantasies, with the right partner.”
“Despite all the tragedy and trauma of the pandemic, this experience also offered daters some silver linings. Many Hinge singles used the time in lockdown to self-reflect and figure out who they are and what they’re looking for, both in terms of relationships and sexual experiences.”
Indeed, Hinge’s research found that 34% of Australian users of the app “have developed a new sexual fantasy this past year, 23% want to try BDSM, 22% want to try role-playing and 22% want to try new sex positions.”
The cause of this willingness to explore? Logan adds, “19% of Aussie Hinge users said they have watched new types of porn over the past year. This exploration could help explain why 34% developed a new sexual fantasy this summer.”
And, over half of those surveyed – 58% – put the blame on the Delta variant of Covid as being the main reason their sex life has been affected, compared to earlier in 2021.
But, will this change in attitude continue once the doors are flung fully open and we can get back to a bit of a normality? To this, Logan says, “We expect many of the trends that emerged during the pandemic to stick with us long-term. For example, the majority of Hinge users who have tried video dates say they’ll continue to go on these in the future, even when it’s safe to meet up in person.”
“I’ve heard from many people who, before the pandemic, tended to jump to physical intimacy with their matches very quickly, often before they’d developed a deeper emotional connection.”
“The pandemic has forced them to change their behaviour because it wasn’t safe to meet up in person. They slowed down and invested more time in getting to know the other person first. I expect people will continue to embrace this phenomenon of slower dating, and waiting longer to have sex with a new person.”