Lockdown has altered our love lives – here's a guide to dating, 2021-style

THE pandemic and its seemingly endless lockdowns has accelerated the road to virtual dating, but what will romance look like in 2021?

From sex through apps to choosing a lover based on their star sign, we help singletons navigate the world wide web of love so you can net a proper catch . . . as soon as rules allow.

SLOW DATING: This is the one your parents will love. As the name suggests, experts believe people will take things slowly, and won’t rush into anything offline until they have built a genuine con- nection with someone online. Aww.

SATISFYER APP: Sex through apps will become big in 2021 as many lovers face spending longer apart due to Government restrictions.

Sex-tech and wellness brand Satisfyer has launched its Connect app, revolutionising sex for people in long-distance relationships or separated due to Covid. Through clever features, users can turn on their lover remotely.

The app is free and works with a host of Satisfyer toys at a friendly price (around £35 each), so everyone can enjoy.

HARDBALLING: It may sound like something you’d hear on TV show The Apprentice but dating app Bumble predicts users will take a “hardballing” approach to finding love this year.

Singles will treat dating like they would a job interview — and won’t hold back to spare feelings.

Nearly 40 per cent of users said they have become more confident in expressing their likes and dislikes. Which is great . . . unless you’re on the receiving end of this feedback.

ASTROLOVE: Is your love written in the stars? It may sound like mumbo jumbo but people have become more spiritual in the pandemic and are looking for dating compatibility according to zodiac signs.

To find your perfect match, check out astrologer Linda Goodman’s Love Signs book, a guide to love and compatibility based on sun signs.

Watch out for those pesky Scorpios, though. In a recent survey of bad behaviour, 63 per cent of them owned up to cheating. Capricorns were second worst. Maybe stick to trusty Librans.

ZORGIES: While many people wouldn’t dream of going to a sex party in real life, 2021 is expected to see singles engaging in virtual orgies.

Sex party firm Killing Kittens has more than 90,000 members on its new app and has seen a huge rise in singles joining its online community.

In the past three weeks, more than 650,000 messages were sent between its frisky members. That’s a lot of sexting!

Many singletons are using the app to build up their sexual confidence, ready for when they can get between the sheets in real life.

Top tip: You can leave your facemask on.

THUNBERGING: Daters used to bond over their favourite film or food, but today climate change is on the menu.

Yes, you guessed it, this dating trend is named after teenage environmentalist Greta Thunberg.

Last year, dating site OkCupid reported an 800 per cent increase in mentions of Greta on users’ profiles and that figure is expected to snowball in 2021.

Let’s hope they melt each other’s hearts.

LOCDATING: It will come as no surprise that lockdown has made us lazier.

Dating app Bumble found that 48 per cent of people want to meet potential love interests closer to home.

While this is convenient — think cheaper travel costs — be careful not to date too close to home. Sex with neighbours can lead to some very awkward encounters, so set a two-street radius.

ADVO-DATING: 2020 was a big year for campaigning and more than 340,000 passionate singles referred to them- selves as “activists” on their dating profiles.

A study by OkCupid found that 48 per cent of Gen Z and 41 per cent of millennial women considered themselves to be campaigners.

POLYAMORY: Monogamy is sooo last year. Just like our diets in lockdown, we’re becoming more greedy in bed too. But unlike cheating, poly relationships are all about being open and honest with your partner(s).

More than a third of 18 to 24-year-olds said they wanted to explore a poly relationship, according to sex toy company LELO.

This demand for free love will see open-minded dating apps Feeld and OkCupid become major players in 2021 as they offer non-monogamous features.

TV SHOW-MANCING: In pre-pandemic times a fun date would be going to the movies and getting it on in the back row. But Covid put cinema dates to bed.

Instead, last year’s lockdowns saw a fifth of Tinder users aged 18 to 25 watch TV virtually as a first date.

As more people opt for Covid-safe TV dates this year, check out what hot new shows are hitting screens so you can quarantine and chill together — well, kind of.

SPEED-ROOMING: Covid has forced couples to make quick decisions about big milestones such as moving in together.

Scared the Government will impose another “sex ban” between two different households, 2021 will see impulsive couples choosing to co-habit within weeks, rather than waiting years.

The downside is your partner’s questionable personal habits might kill the romance stone dead.

Make sure you rent somewhere with two bedrooms in case you turn from lovers to housemates.

MULTIDATE: When it comes to virtual dating, it’s best not to put all your eggs in one basket.

Last year social media exploded with horror stories of people meeting their online lover for the first time in real life and being thoroughly disappointed.

Keep your options open until you know the romance has staying power.

NEW DAWN DATERS: It’s never nice being the newbie, so look out for the “New Dawners” who will be signing up to dating apps this year.

January has long been dubbed “divorce month” by legal experts as couples struggle to get on over the Christmas break. But last year’s lockdowns accelerated the breakdown of many more relationships.

Some of the new singletons popping up on your apps will be new to dating and understandably anxious, so be kind!

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