MORE than half of young and single Americans have turned to dating apps in search of virtual sexual intimacy amid the pandemic, a new study has found.
Commissioned by the dating platform Plenty of Fish, and conducted by One Poll, the study found that 55 percent of Americans aged 18 to 40 have opted to take their romantic exploits online since March 2020.
Of the 2,900 single or casually dating people surveyed, 45 percent said they haven’t been physically intimate with someone new since the pandemic began.
While 42 percent of respondents said they are open to physical intimacy after the pandemic and feel excited to start dating again, two-thirds say they will continue being as virtually intimate after that point.
Throughout the pandemic, 61 percent of that group say they were relying on video chats, 54 percent said they were indulging in sexting and 47 percent said they had been having phone sex.
Sixty-four percent of singles said being virtually intimate during the pandemic changed what they consider intimacy to be.
Nearly 6 in 10 (57%) respondents now place a higher value on other types of intimacy, like emotional or intellectual intimacy, while 45% find less value in physical connection.
The study found the changes in behavior and mindset are likely to be long-lasting.
In fact, 61 percent of singles surveyed believe sexting will be even more popular after the pandemic than it was before.
More than two in five (45%) singles said they feel more confident in their virtual sexual intimacy skills than their in-person skills, including 54 percent of men and 39 percent of women.
And over half of singles (51%) think one-night stands will become a thing of the past once the pandemic comes to an end.
Interestingly, men are more likely to agree with this sentiment than women, at a rate of 61 percent to 45 percent respectively.
Additionally, millennials (57%) are more likely than Gen Zers (39%) to believe one-night stands are a pre-COVID trend.
“Singles spent the last year adapting and learning how to date from a distance by using technology, such as video chats and live streaming, to forge virtual connections with one another,” said Kate MacLean, Dating Expert, Plenty of Fish.
“These tools have fundamentally changed the way singles date, from establishing deeper connections quicker to cultivating more meaningful relationships.”
The pandemic has also driven young singles to find intimacy in their own social circles.
While nearly half (46%) of respondents said they’ve had a friend with benefits in the past, 76 percent said they’ve been in such a relationship since the pandemic began.
For 39 percent of these friends with benefits, their casual arrangements have progressed to official relationships.
Meanwhile, 49 percent of friends with benefits relationships were either ended or fizzled out due to social distancing and other pandemic-related limitations.
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Nearly nine in 10 (85%) of these relationships began when singles turned to their roommate or someone they’ve known for years platonically for a friends with benefits relationship.
“Whether engaging in virtual sexual intimacy, turning to their roommates for a friends with benefits relationship — a dating trend we like to call ‘room-mate-ing’ — or fulfilling their sexual needs by streaming steamy shows or subscribing to adult entertainment platforms, the pandemic has been a challenging time for everyone, especially singles,” said MacLean.
“As we prepare to transition out of quarantine, we look forward to ushering in this new era of sex, dating and intimacy.”