2024's About to Hit Different With These New Relationship & Dating Trends
We've previously waxed poetic about how dating in 2023 ought to come with its own dictionary—and then we wrote you one! Now, 2024 is set to bring its own dating trends and relationship fads, some of which we're hoping become mating mainstays.
Dating in 2023 saw singles opting for sober dates, avoiding situationships before you could swipe left and chasing that elusive IRL meet-cute. So what do 2024's love landscape and dating trends look like? In short, couples are continuing to redefine and personalize their partnerships—because if there's one thing that Gen Z loves, it's rewriting the rule book.
Here, the experts are unpacking the relationship and dating trends couples are likely to see over the next 365 days (or 525,600 minutes) of DMs, date nights and relationship milestones.
In this article:
Emotionally Feral (but in, like, a good way…)
With 'goblin mode' earning the title of Oxford Dictionary's 'Word Of The Year' back in 2022, it was clear that our authentic selves were finally nabbing the spotlight (after relegating aesthetically pleasing societal standards to the wings). In the time since, we've seen this practice of embracing our authentic selves (girl dinners and all) extend to the dating and relationship scene: People have been prioritizing the relationships that allow them to be their truest, most goblin-like selves, and focusing on establishing the comfort and security required to do so. 2023 was also the year that saw the popularization of a new love language—emotional security. (Are you sensing a theme here?)
All that to say, we've been gearing up for a 2024 relationship landscape that's dominated by our most authentic emotional selves. Basically, everyone is going emotionally feral—but in the best possible way, with daters and couples wildly nurturing emotional intimacy with abandon over physical connections.
We're not the only ones noticing: Bumble deemed "Intuitive Intimacy" one of their 2024 Global Dating Trends, after identifying that 32% of surveyed app users find emotional intimacy now more important than sex. "Remember when they said don't talk about politics, religion or sex on a first date?" asks Bumble's sex and relationships expert Shan Boodram. "Well today, people are communicating their values on those right in their dating profile through Bumble's badges…There is less of a scarcity mentality when it comes to dating, which allows people the freedom to show up as their full selves as early as possible to avoid either party wasting time."
In fact, Bumble also saw 60% of U.S. respondents share that they're comfortable talking about mental health on a first date. "Feelings of emotional safety and security are the foundation to any healthy and equitable long-term relationship," says Boodram. "It makes sense that people are focusing on this version of intimacy first."
Here's your PSA to schedule time for parallel play in 2024. While the term 'parallel play' was originally coined as a way to describe a form of play amongst children, the practice of side-by-side individual play has benefits that aren't limited by age.
In the context of romantic relationships, "Parallel play is the idea that individuals can pursue their own interests, hobbies and activities independently while still being in a relationship," explains Dr. Sanam Hafeez, New York City neuropsychologist and director of Comprehend the Mind. "Imagine a couple spending a quiet evening at home. Instead of partners participating in the same activity, they engage in parallel play. This could mean one person is reading a book while the other is working on a presentation."
Through this trending version of parallel play, "Both partners maintain a sense of individuality and have their own lives, interests and social circles," says Dr. Hafeez. "This independence and autonomy contribute to a well-rounded and fulfilling relationship, allowing each individual to grow personally while sharing a life together."
Want to kick off 2024 with some parallel playtime of your own? Dr. Hafeez shares the following suggestions:
- Reading Together: "Both partners can read their own books or articles while sitting together in a quiet space. This allows for individual engagement with literature while enjoying each other's company."
- Creative Pursuits: "Each partner can pursue their creative interests side by side. For example, one may be painting or sketching while the other is writing or working on a craft project."
- Listening to Music or Podcasts: "Partners can listen to their preferred music, podcasts or audiobooks using headphones while spending time together. This respects individual tastes while sharing a physical space."
- Home Workouts: "Engaging in individual workout routines at home is a form of parallel play. Each partner can follow their preferred exercise routine, creating a shared commitment to health and well-being."
Living Apart Together
In the same vein of sloughing off societal standards and prioritizing your and your partner's emotional needs, 2024 is all about couples focusing on what works for their individual relationship—even if the specifics don't always look like those you're used to seeing. Case in point: The rising discussion of living apart together, a relationship model where a couple has no intention of cohabiting but still maintains a romantic, intimate relationship.
The New York Times previously cited a 2022 U.S. census that found that 3.89 million Americans were living apart from their spouses that year. And, with 2024's relationship space already being dominated by our most authentic selves, the stage seems set for this number to grow; as couples continue to prioritize what best establishes emotional security in their individual relationship and satisfies everyone's varying needs.
Another interesting note? Thanks to current pop culture moments like The Golden Bachelor, we're talking more about finding love later in love—and thus, we'll likely see further discussion about LAT, too. (The relationship style is particularly ideal for partners with the deeply rooted lives, careers and families that are established over decades.)
We're all about to be part of the class of 2024 when it comes to sex (re)education. Resources that promote pleasure-based sex education are on the rise—and everyone from casual daters to those in long-term relationships can reap the benefits.
"As time passed, maintaining the spark in our sex life became challenging," Mariah Freya, co-founder of the sex-ed video platform Beducated, tells us of her relationship with husband Phil Steinweber. "Until recently, finding high-quality sex education for adults in a practical, easy-to-apply way was quite tricky… That was the 'aha!' moment that led to the creation of Beducated." Explicit (but not pornographic) video lessons include how to perform an erotic massage, cunnilingus techniques and consent 101.
Moreover, folks are also recognizing sex and pleasure as vital components of their self-care routines, with 2024 set to fully shine the spotlight on the wellness half of sexual wellness. "Sexual wellness, as defined by the World Health Organization, encompasses physical, mental, emotional and social well-being related to sexuality," says Freya. "It is an essential pillar of our overall well-being."
Through this holistic lens, folks can ideally deepen their pleasure, as well as elevate intimacy with their partner(s). As Freya says of surveyed Beducated users, "Most of them …enjoy sex more, have it more frequently and discover new techniques to experience new types of pleasure."
"Reading between the lines of what we know about our users," she adds. "It's ultimately all about connection."
Partly through this deeper, more inclusive exploration of what brings us pleasure likely comes the popularization of audio-based erotica. Platforms like Dipsea offer NSFW audio narratives that allow for a more immersive sexual experience—as well as prompt discussion of fantasies between partners.
"No matter what your everyday life looks like, Dipsea gives you the freedom to explore and learn from your desires," co-founder Gina Gutierrez tells us. "Dipsea also helps people get a better understanding of what they want from a partner and how to ask for it, which can be transformational in people's relationships."
Your go-to playlist for when you just can't fall asleep—i.e. ASMR's greatest hits—has also been on the receiving end of a sexy makeover montage: Sensual ASMR is a subcategory all of its own with videos and audio mimicking the licking, kissing and "wet" sounds one would hear during specific explicit narratives. The rise of this niche ASMR subtype even got it called out specifically in Youtube's policy update.
As Gutierrez points out, audio erotica in its various forms has plenty to offer: "Dipsea pioneered a new genre of audio storytelling that's immersive, imaginative and intimate, and helps people tune into their sexual selves more easily—and feel more confident, joyful, and alive as a result."