The pandemic was rough on dating—no one can deny it. And after almost two years of isolation and social distancing, we’ve just about forgotten how to be social: Do I have to shower before meeting up? Is that a weird thing to say on a first date? What does their face even look like under their mask?
Enter the Dallas Dating Playbook.
Dallas-based Match Group, which owns dating sites like Hinge, Match.com, Tinder, OkCupid, and more, recently released statistics on what Dallas singles are really looking for. Using the company’s annual “Singles in America” study, which surveys 5,000 single adults across the country, Match pulled statistics on post-pandemic Dallas dating habits and preferences.
These are statistics like “two out three Dallas singles won’t let new spikes in Covid cases prevent in-person dating” and “55 percent of singles are casting a wider net in what they’re looking for in potential partners.”
And while statistics won’t necessarily tell you what to say on a first date, it can help you understand where people are coming from and find confidence in the way you date, says Rachel DeAlto, Match’s chief dating expert.
“I think one of the things people can do with this is look at is as a guidebook toward ‘OK, this is what people are thinking,’” she says. “I think everybody wants to get in the head of the people that they’re interested in.”
We chatted with DeAlto about the playbook’s biggest takeaways on how the Dallas dating game has changed.
It’s the “Great Prioritization Shift,” Charlie Brown
Per the study, 36 percent of Dallas singles consider honesty as the most attractive quality in a partner, 37 percent prioritize good communication, 35 percent kindness, 33 percent emotional maturity, and 32 percent want financial stability.
“The biggest shift has to be what we’ve been calling ‘post-traumatic growth,’” DeAlto says. The hardship of the pandemic and the social unrest of the past two years has led to a priorities reset where people are caring more about kindness and emotional intelligence than attraction, she says.
“Not that we’ve eliminated our desire to be attracted to our partner,” DeAlto says, “but the ‘more than looks’ movement has absolutely been a part of post-pandemic dating.”
We’d like introduce video to the chat.
Although people are still willing to go out on dates in person, DeAlto says, “we are dating differently.”
The pandemic saw a rise in singles using video chats and phone calls to screen potential partners. Match found that 72 percent of Dallas singles prefer a phone call over text messaging before choosing to meet up with someone.
People are wanting real conversations, be it old-fashioned phone calls or FaceTime videos, to get to know someone, DeAlto says. Sorry, folks, “u up?” texts just won’t do it anymore.
“We’re realizing that maybe phone calls are really a thing that helps us get to know somebody a little bit better instead of just texting,” she says.
There’s a new three-date rule.
Dallasites are all about taking things slow these days. According to the survey, 61 percent of singles are uncomfortable with “making out” within the first three dates, and 74 percent of Dallas men think sex is less important than before.
There’s more of a “slow love versus fast sex” mentality happening, DeAlto says. “But I think that’s a good thing whereas a lot of times intimacy quickly can mask compatibility.”
But although physical intimacy isn’t happening as quickly, people are more willing to give a potential partner a chance. Most Dallas singles (71 percent) say you need three dates to access your compatibility with someone, as opposed to 61 percent of Austinites who agree on two dates.
Taking time to get to know someone before casting them aside or getting intimate, DeAlto says, “allows for a far-more stable relationship to form.”
Dallas singles actually want to be tied down.
Dallas singles are definitely less commitment-phobes than singles in other Texas cities. For example, 73 percent of Dallas singles want to be in a relationship within the next year, compared to 68 percent of Austinites.
Although, more Dallasites (17 percent) do prefer casual dating than Houstonians (12 percent) and Austinites (10 percent).
The study also reports 67 percent of Dallasites are seeking meaningful, committed relationships compared to the national average of 62 percent.
One of the biggest things that’s stayed the same, DeAlto says, is the “universal search for love.” People have always wanted companionship, and the stats are confirming that.