Singles now go for emotional maturity, COVID shots over who’s ‘bad,’ IU study finds

The Netflix dating show "Too Hot To Handle" ironically arrived amid a global pandemic in which the most effective preventative measure is keeping away from other people. (Photo Provided/Aline Arruda/Netflix)

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (WISH) — Move over, “bad boys” and “bad girls.”

For singles seeking partners, emotional maturity and COVID-19 vaccinations are among the new goods being sought.

Major changes in the actions of singles since the start of the coronavirus pandemic were found in the 11th annual study called Match.com’s “Singles in America” from the Kinsey Institute at Indiana University.

“Singles have grown up, and along with that they are looking for more stable partners. The so-called bad boys and bad girls are out; emotional maturity is in.” said Helen Fisher, senior research fellow at the institute on issues in sexuality, gender and reproduction.

According to a news release, the study also found a drastic increase in people interested in marriage. In two years, singles wanting a partner for marriage rose from 58% to 76%, and men and young adults are leading in the pattern.

The change toward stability also means casual sex is a lower priority for singles than in the past. Instead, 83% of singles want emotional maturity.

Justin Garcia, the institute’s executive director, said in the release, “I don’t think that’s a temporary blip; I think it’s a sea change. We were in this hook-up era for a while, and we documented fairly widespread openness toward casual sex, but I think people are now focusing more on intentional relationship-building in the present and into the future.”

Video dating is also becoming a stronger trend, with 1 in 4 singles turning to it during the pandemic to get “vibe check” on a potential romantic partner. Nearly half of Gen Z and millennials go on a video date as a first step in the dating process, the release said.

Fisher said, “When you go on a video chat, sex is off the table. You don’t have to decide if you’re going to kiss or not, and you don’t have to decide how you’re going to spend your money. So, it’s practical.”

On the COVID-19 front, the study found vaccination is a higher priority for singles than the rest of the U.S. population, with 65% of singles wanting their partners to be vaccinated, the release said.

Garcia said in the release, “”We can take something like vaccination status and use it as a proxy for someone’s personality and who they are. The kind of traits we look for in partners during the early stages of courtship include whether they are empathetic, if they seem smart enough, do they care about well-being? Singles are using vaccination status as a window into those other domains.”

Finally, looks aren’t everything: Only 78% of singles in the 2021 study wanted someone physically attractive, compared to 90% in 2020.