Future of Online Dating in 2022: How technology, the internet and work at home has impacted how we meet and form romances and what changes to expect going forward.
Internet users who have used online dating platforms for at least the last 2-3 years will confirm that a lot of the really active development of these platforms has been observed only recently. Until 2020, there were few innovations or major breakthroughs in the industry. But when the world began to change due to the coronavirus pandemic and the accompanying quarantine restrictions, the internet dating industry was also affected.
First, let’s identify three global trends not directly related to online dating:
1. People began to spend more time at home. According to Owl Labs, about 16% of all companies in the world have already completely transferred their employees to a fully remote work format. Even more enterprises have sent a percentage of their personnel to work remotely. Since 2009, the number of people working from home has grown by 159%, so this tendency is far from completely related to the pandemic.
2. The number of Internet users in the world has increased. According to Hootsuite, from 2020 to 2021, the number of Internet users grew by 1.8% (about 93 million people). It’s expected that the increase by 2022 will be even larger, exceeding 2% (about 100 million people).
3. Users are content to devote more of their time to social networks and online communication. The portal Hootsuite reports a constant increase in the average time spent on the Internet. In 2015, users spent an average of 1 hour 51 minutes a day online. In 2017 it was 2 hours 15 minutes, while in 2020 it was 2 hours 25 minutes. The average time in 2022 is expected to be 2 hours 30 minutes or slightly more.
The conclusion suggests itself: people have begun to spend much more time on the web, more actively using social networks and other online platforms. For many, the Internet is now their work, leisure and private life.
But all of the above is only a general picture. Let’s take a closer look at how dating is changing right now and try to guess what it will be like in 2022.
10 trends for 2022 — what to expect
Trend 1: Even bigger emphasis on mobile applications
According to Ookla, there are now about 84,000 commercial 5G networks deployed in the world. Already 179 operators from different countries offer their subscribers access to the network using 5G technology with data transfer rates of up to 20 Gbps. This means that it will be even more convenient to meet and communicate via a smartphone. The highest quality video and sound without interruption is already a reality. Developers understand that the users of their sites prefer convenience and mobility, and popularity of desktop websites has been steadily declining. Applications are the future. It is possible that in 2022 some browser-based dating sites will close altogether, but in their place more than a dozen new applications will surely appear.
Trend 2: Expansion of the functionality of social networks
On October 28, 2021, Mark Zuckerberg announced a change of name for the Facebook company. From now on, it’ll be called Meta, which refers to the metaverse, in which Zuckerberg sees the future of the entire Internet. Social networks will change — they’ll more actively use augmented and virtual reality technologies, and the very format of communication between people in the Internet space will change. So far, it’s difficult to say exactly what the metaverse will be as conceived by Mark Zuckerberg, but in 2022 we’ll surely learn a lot of new and unexpected things. You can be sure that if it’s successful, Meta will be followed by other large Internet corporations.
Trend 3: Further growth in popularity of video chat with strangers
Online video chat applications, which have seen a lot of new development amid the pandemic and quarantine, will remain very relevant in 2022. Users like this unobtrusive and simple format of communication, without long registration processes and endless text messaging. Sites like Omegle chat to strangers, Chatrandom, Emeraldchat, Chatroulette and OmeTV have gathered a large and active audience over the past couple of years. And it looks like this audience is here to stay. The average growth of users per year was 20-30%, and some random video chats managed to double or triple their audience in comparison with the pre-Covid period. It’s worth noting that many classic dating apps have now implemented video chat functionality, including Tinder, Bumble and many others.
Trend 4: Popularization of audio and video communication
The sudden rise in popularity of the social network for audio communication, Clubhouse, in early 2021 became a powerful driver for other platforms to introduce similar functionality. A similar picture can be seen in video chat with strangers. Dating sites and apps, social networks and instant messengers are hastily implementing new functionality that’s currently hot. The Internet is changing so fast that it can be very difficult to keep up with trends. And if a super-popular new feature appears in 2022, there’s no doubt that dating platforms will find a way to adapt it for themselves.
Trend 5: Improving the security and confidentiality of online dating
Let’s be honest, security has never been a strong point in online dating. There have always been plenty of scammers and Internet trolls on dating sites. The situation is gradually improving, but the problem has fundamentally not been solved. Indeed, during the quarantine period, it only worsened — in some countries, the crime rate on the Internet has grown from 15% to 75%. This means that now the purpose of the owners of dating sites is to focus on the safety and confidentiality of their users, using new technological solutions. For example, Chatroulette is already using AI to automatically find and block users who violate the site’s rules.
Trend 6: Expanding how VR and AR technologies are used in online communication
According to Global Dating Insights, Match Group released its third quarter financials in early November 2021, showing revenue growth of 25% over the previous year. But there’s another interesting feature. Representatives of the company said that they are beginning to actively develop in the direction of VR. Their goal is to enable users to “travel” in virtual space, visit different locations and meet people who are also in these locations. This is a sort of replication of chat rooms by interest, but more complex and functional.
Trend 7: Offering more rewards for users vaccinated against COVID-19
Large dating sites are already offering bonuses to users who are vaccinated against coronavirus. They can receive some premium features, special badges in their profiles, and similar. This approach is used in Tinder, Bumble, Badoo and other sites.
The trend is likely to continue during 2022, and it is likely to be especially visible in countries where the population is reluctant to vaccinate. For some, this could really be a compelling incentive to get vaccinated, protecting themselves and those around them from a dangerous virus. We believe that such offers for vaccinated people are a very necessary decision on the part of dating site owners.
Trend 8: The emergence of new niche online dating services
In 2020-2021, many niche dating sites achieved their peak of popularity. Many users want to meet those with whom they have common interests and beliefs. And Tinder, Badoo and other super-popular sites with their huge and very diverse audience are not ideal for this. Among the popular niche sites are Veggly — dating for vegetarians — Kippo — dating for gamers and NuiT — dating based on astrological matches. There are many more for every possible interest.
There’s no doubt that in 2022 we’ll see many more new niche themed sites, which could provoke an exodus of users from larger dating services. However this process is likely to be slow.
Trend 9: Even more active use of artificial intelligence in the dating industry
In September 2021, online publication Ritex published an article about artificial intelligence in online dating. It contains quotes from Tinder CEO Sean Red, who calls AI a smart filter capable of determining with the highest accuracy what interests a person, and finding the best matches for them.
An interesting approach to using AI is already taking place at Match.com. The site recently launched a virtual assistant named Lara. It not only finds perfect dating matches, but syncs with Google Assistant to find the best offline dating spots.
Trend 10: Closer linking of dating platforms and other online platforms
In 2021, it was revealed that a new neural network had been launched that collects user information from profiles on dating sites, social networks and other sites. The neural network then compares this data, forming a more objective and accurate portrait of a person in order to find the most suitable matches for them in the future. This is a very useful tool, because users on dating sites and applications often don’t have the most accurate perception of themselves, or embellish the reality. Now it’ll be much more difficult to impersonate someone else. On the other hand, not everyone wants a computer algorithm to study all their social media accounts, and we can understand that.
The future of dating sites is full of surprises
European Commission experts regularly research the topic of loneliness among EU citizens. In 2016, according to surveys, about 12% of respondents said they felt lonely, mostly elderly people. There were almost no young people on the list, but with the onset of the pandemic, the number of “loners” has grown markedly. In the summer of 2020 a second survey found that 25% of respondents admitted that they suffer from loneliness. Many of them were young people aged 18-25 years. The German publication Taggeschau even reported that in Germany, only between April and July 2020, the number of citizens suffering from loneliness increased fourfold, to 36%.
What does this tell us?
Firstly, dating sites will increasingly attract a new audience. And the audience itself will gradually become more loyal to such platforms. Secondly, text messaging will continue to lose ground, giving way to audio and video chats. And thirdly, in 2022 we can surely expect new Internet trends in the field of communication. Perhaps they’ll turn out to be very fleeting like Clubhouse. Or, perhaps, they’ll become much more promising and attractive to users — like inbuilt online video chat in dating applications.
We’ll all just have to keep an eye on the updates and not miss the most interesting ones. We’re sure there are still a lot of surprises ahead!