The Weirdest Dating Site Trends That Took Social Media by Storm

Graphic of confused with social media dating trends

You’ve probably heard of it. It usually starts with a hashtag. And then it’s a video, perpetuated on the likes of TikTok, Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, and it usually shows people doing the same thing. These trends can range from dance challenges to lip-syncing competitions, and you’ve probably heard of a few of them. 

The Ice Bucket Challenge originated on Facebook and spread to other social media platforms, aiming to raise awareness and funds for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Participants would pour a bucket of ice water over their heads, nominate others to do the same, and in turn, donate to ALS research.

Or maybe you’ve heard of the Mannequin Challenge, where people would freeze in place like mannequins while a camera moved around them, filming the scene in one shot, with no one moving. This trend gained mass popularity for essentially no reason at all other than the humor in it. Groups of people, celebrities, and even organizations started creating captivating frozen moments for fun.

And while not all trends need to have a purpose, these viral videos all have something in common: they quickly spread across the internet, with users from all over the world taking part and sharing their own versions. Maybe you even hopped on board and joined a few of them, eager to see how far you could take the challenge.

Trends can make their way into the dating world through a combination of cultural influences, technological advancements, and growing societal attitudes.

Before we explore all the strange viral trends that have made their way into dating sites on our phones, let’s first explore how that could happen and what that means.

The Influence of Social Media on Dating Site Trends

Trends reflect the current interests, tastes, and values of a specific group or society. They can manifest in various domains, like fashion, technology, entertainment, consumer preferences, or in our case, social behaviors like dating. Trends can be driven by a variety of factors, including cultural shifts, technological advancements, influential figures or celebrities, societal events, or the widespread adoption of certain practices (like the variety of challenges listed above.)

The most important thing to note about trends is that they’re characterized by their temporary nature–but if they are more permanent, then they probably tend to evolve or be replaced by new or similar trends over time. They can have a cyclical nature, where specific trends resurface or become popular again after a period of decline.

With their vast user base and instantaneous reach, social media platforms have revolutionized how people communicate, connect, and form relationships, yes–but they also play a role in how we spread the popularity of the said trend.

The impact of social media on dating site trends cannot be underestimated. Dating sites have embraced social media integration, allowing users to link their profiles, share content, and even leverage data from their social media accounts to enhance their dating experience.

If you sign up for most modern dating sites, you’ll probably see the option to link your Instagram at the bottom of your profile. The visibility and accessibility provided by social media has contributed to the rise of specific trends within dating sites, leading to unique, odd, and sometimes toxic behavior.

Social media’s impact on dating site trends has resulted in the proliferation of unconventional, quirky, and sometimes strange approaches to online dating. The fascination with these trends can be attributed to social media’s ability to amplify their visibility, foster discussions, and fuel curiosity–or in some cases, put people on blast for their toxic behavior. By understanding the influence of social media on dating site trends, we gain insights into the developing landscape of modern romance and the diverse ways people seek meaningful connections in the digital age.

So you may wonder what trends are connected to the dating world? There are probably a few you’ve heard of, a lot you haven’t, and a handful of others that will leave you rereading my sentences saying: say wuhhhh? Now that we know how social media plays a role in the perpetuation of these trends, let’s explore what dating trends exactly dealing with because, believe it or not, you may be faced with them every time you’re swiping on an site and have no idea you’re actually experiencing it firsthand.

Social Media Graphic - Person Using Laptop

But a little warning: once you see it, you won’t be able to look away. So buckle up, friends; let’s hop on this wild ride of the strangest, weirdest, oddest, and even most annoying dating site trends you may face out in the real world. 

Behavioral Dating Trends

All right, my fellow singletons, we’re gonna start simple. You may have heard of some of these, but depending on how active you are on dating sites, you might not have. You may also ask yourself: Wait a second, how is this even a trend? That’s just someone being a huge butthead. Well, remember what I said about trends? Yes, they can be temporary–BUT, they can also be cyclical, meaning they can grow and develop with the changing times, and you’ll see that with some of these behavioral trends, they’ve been around for a while, but they just didn’t yet have names. 


Negative Trends


1. Ghosting

Ah, Ghosting is one of the oldest and most popular trends. And no, this is not Casper, the friendly ghost. While not outright weird, ghosting has definitely gone down in history as straight-up rude.

Ghosting Trend Graphic
Ghosting refers to the act of abruptly and intentionally cutting off all communication with someone with no explanation or warning, typically in a dating or romantic context. It involves ignoring calls, texts, or messages and effectively disappearing from the other person’s life without any closure or resolution.

I’m starting with ghosting because I want you to see that not every trend is necessarily something that people will post videos about doing. Yeah, no one is going to brag about ghosting someone, BUT people do it because it works. And as they see their friends doing it and realize it makes ending things easier (for you, the ghoster), it becomes a trend in how people end things. And really, if you think about it, the only reason we’re not saying outright saying it’s weird is because it’s almost too familiar, too normal–too accepted.

While straight-up ghosting can happen before the start of first dates or even well into a relationship, the trend itself has grown into a variety of iterations that give the ghoster the relief from saying that they are indeed not a ghoster, when in fact,, they’re still ghosting, just not in the way we’ve all come to know it. But how?! Read on, friend.


2. Fizzling

I know, I know. I don’t like carbonated drinks, either. Fizzling, also known as a fadeaway or slow fade, refers to a gradual decrease in communication and interest between two people involved in a romantic or dating situation.

Boring Date Graphic
It involves a gradual decline in contact, engagement, or enthusiasm without a clear or definitive end, often resulting in the eventual dissolution of the relationship or connection.

Not as bad as ghosting, I agree, but still connected to it. Personally, I’m a big fan of people just learning how to use their words when they break up, but I digress. 


3. Breadcrumbing

No, this is not the type of breadcrumbing Hansel and Gretel did–you know, the one that didn’t help them in the long run. This type of breadcrumbing refers to a dating behavior where someone provides intermittent or minimal communication to another person they’re interested in. The catch? They have no intention of pursuing a committed relationship.

The term is derived from the idea of leaving a trail of “breadcrumbs” (like the movie) to keep the other person interested and engaged in offering substantial or consistent investment. They often give lukewarm responses to messages, avoid making concrete plans, and keep the other person hanging without making a clear commitment.

So yeah, it’s not ghosting per se. But if that’s not leading on for no purpose at all, then I don’t know what it is. Breadcrumbing is the behavior that leads you into a situation-ship: where you find yourself with another person, but you don’t know where you stand.


4. Catfishing

Hook, line, and sinker. The good ol’ catfishing–the act of creating a fake persona or identity online to deceive others, often for romantic or deceptive purposes, usually to scam people out of money.

Catfishing Trend Graphic
This can involve using someone else’s photos, inventing a false backstory, or pretending to be someone entirely different in order to establish a relationship or manipulate others.

Catfishing has definitely grown over the years, but this trend has been around for quite some time.


5. Cushioning 

Also, as keeping someone on the back burner, Cushioning is a behavioral dating trend where someone in a committed relationship keeps other potential romantic options on the side as a “cushion” or backup.

Cushioning Graphic
It involves maintaining communication or flirting with other individuals to have a fallback option in case the current relationship ends.

My advice with this trend? If you feel the need to check someone’s phone because you suspect they’re talking to someone else, then yep, they may be cushioning you.

Another term for this is benching. Yep, just like sports. Benching occurs when one person in a dating scenario puts the other person on the bench as a backup option. Like cushioning, it involves sporadic contact, mixed signals, and minimal effort to advance the relationship while still keeping you hanging. It’s annoying more than anything. 


6. Freckling

This one’s pretty straightforward. You know how freckles appear in the summer but disappear in the Winter? Me neither, because I live in Florida, and we don’t have Winter. But apparently, that’s a thing! And like a summer fling, once Winter comes, your new beau will fade into the background, never to be seen again–well, until you come out of hibernation next year.

7. Love Bombing 

Love bombing is one of the most deceptive dating trends out there. It refers to an intense and overwhelming display of affection, attention, and romance, usually around the early stages of a relationship.

Love Bombing Trend Graphic
It involves showering someone with lavish gestures, constant compliments, and excessive attention as a way to quickly establish a deep emotional connection.

While this feels great at first, it can often be a manipulative tactic to take control of your emotions, usually when the love bomber removes their affection to garner control. This dating trend is what the Britney Spears of the world refer to as TOXIC.

Now that we’ve covered the off-putting and toxic dating trends, let’s look at the flip side: the more positive dating trends that can happen at the start of a relationship on dating sites.


Positive Trends


1. Slow Dating 

Slow dating is an approach to dating that prioritizes taking the time to get to know someone on a deeper level before engaging in physical intimacy or even before rushing into a committed relationship. Personally, I think this one came about as a response to love bombing. Trends evolve, remember?

Slow dating emphasizes building a strong emotional connection and understanding compatibility before progressing further. People who practice slow dating focus on meaningful conversations, spending quality time together, and progressing a relationship at a pace that feels comfortable for both individuals involved.
Slow Dating Trend Graphic

Dating sites like eHarmony and Zoosk, which produce genuine connections over casual flings, often promote slow dating as an option.


2. Guard Railing

Like bumpers on a bowling alley, guard railing is the trend of setting and enforcing personal boundaries and limits within a dating context.

It involves communicating and establishing clear expectations early on to ensure that both individuals feel safe, respected, and comfortable throughout the dating process.
Guardrailing Graphic

Guard railing may sound like you’re just putting a guard up, but it’s actually the opposite. You’re not blocking someone from getting to know you. Instead, you’re outlining your lane and staying in the direction you’d like to go. Guard railing can involve discussing topics such as emotional availability, exclusivity, communication preferences, and physical boundaries.

Not only is it a way to protect yourself from potential emotional harm, but it ensures a healthy and consensual dating experience and teaches both parties to use their words. Yes, that’s my favorite new saying. Trust me, it helps!


3. Dry Dating 

Dry dating, or sober dating, is exactly that: going on dates without alcohol or any substance use. It’s a conscious choice to abstain from drinking or using drugs during a date.

Dry dating is often preferred by individuals who don’t drink alcohol at all, but it can also be used by people who want to practice getting to know someone without drinking, clouding their mindset.
Dry Dating Graphic

It’s all about focusing on building a connection based on sober interactions. This can also allow for clearer communication and decision-making you won’t regret once the beer goggles have worn off.


4. Open-Casting

Think of open-casting like throwing a massive net into the sea. You’ve probably heard the motto, ‘there’s plenty of fish out there,’ so it makes sense. Open-casting is a dating approach where individuals cast a wide net and explore multiple dating options simultaneously.

It involves actively interacting with and dating multiple people without committing to an exclusive relationship.

Let me be clear: This doesn’t mean you’re cheating on someone! Quite the opposite. With this method, you’re technically practicing slow dating by meeting different people, exploring your options, and avoiding putting all your emotional investment into one potential partner.
Open Casting Graphic

The key to open-casting is practicing open and honest communication with all parties involved to ensure everyone’s consent and understanding of the non-exclusive nature of the dating situation. It doesn’t mean you’re stopping yourself from ever dating one person; it just means you’re seeing what’s out there without putting all your eggs in one basket. If someone could write a manual on how to do this successfully, that’d be great. 


5. Hard Balling

Hard balling is similar to the open communication theme we’ve got going on here. It’s a dating trend where individuals practice having open and direct conversations about their expectations before going on a date.

It involves discussing important aspects such as the desired level of commitment (serious or casual), the duration of the relationship (long-term or short-term), and other key factors.
Hardballing Graphic

This can save time, effort, and potentially money by being transparent about your intentions from the start. Hard balling ensures that both parties are on the same page, promoting honesty and clarity in the dating process.


Integration of Trends in Dating Sites

So now that you know the kind of behavioral trends that may show up in the dating process, let’s explore how these same behaviors and trends can be used on dating sites. 

Voice-Fishing

Instead of relying solely on written bios, some dating sites have introduced voice note features where users can record and share audio introductions. This trend adds a more personal touch by allowing potential matches to hear the voice and tone of the person, potentially providing a deeper initial connection.

Sounds promising, right? The dating app Hinge thought so. They didn’t expect the emergence of a new type of catfishing, aptly nicknamed voice-fishing. Apparently, some people think their voice is too boring. No, I’m not joking. So, yep, they’ll do exactly what it sounds like–change the tone of their voice, add fake accents, or in some cases, have other people read their answers for them.

Vaccinated-Dating 

Vaccinated dating is a trend that emerged as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and the widespread availability of vaccines. Simply put, vaccinated dating provides an opportunity for individuals to prioritize their safety by choosing partners who have received COVID-19 vaccinations, intending to create a safer and more comfortable dating environment. Apps like Bumble and Hinge now offer a spot where people can add whether they’re vaccinated.

Flexting

Just like those unnecessary gym pics where you’re flexing your muscles to prove how strong you are, flexting is a trend where people boast or exaggerate about themselves through texts or online communication. You’re essentially a relentless one-upper, showcasing achievements, possessions, or qualities to impress a potential romantic partner. 

Shaveducking 

I know, I know. You’re probably thinking that the names are weirder than the act. But not with this one. Shaveducking is a term used to describe the trend of being attracted to someone based solely on their facial hair. But the actual term refers to the moment of uncertainty and doubt that arises when you realize that your level of attraction to someone is based on that fact.

Shaveducking can occur when someone’s physical appearance significantly changes due to growing or removal of facial hair, leading to a potential mismatch in attraction and bringing about doubt. It’s most often connected to a situation where a person is primarily attracted to someone because of their clean-shaven appearance, but their interest diminishes when they see the person with facial hair. However, it can also deal with the opposite when someone with a beard shaves it off.

Conclusion

Well, there you have it, folks. Dating site trends are more common than you may have expected, and they clearly range the scale from the frustrating to the bizarre. By being aware of these, you can move forward in your dating experiences, keeping these trends in your back pocket. But remember, trends change, so stay alert, friends. You never know what might become a thing next!

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