Dating dealbreaker: Most singles want to find ‘the one’ in 2021 — but they’d better be vaccinated!

NEW YORK — While 2020 may have been a lonely year for many people, most singles think 2021 will be their year for love. A new survey finds 57 percent of single Americans feel optimistic about finding “the one” in 2021. Respondents say they’ve even opened their dating pool to include people they wouldn’t have previously been interested in.

The OnePoll survey of 2,000 Americans on the dating market finds there is a renewed increase in sentimentality when it comes to dating this year. In fact, nearly six in 10 people (58%) say that romantic gestures are more important to them now than they were before COVID-19.

More than a third (37%) say they are most looking forward to holding hands, first kisses, and a flirty smile from across the room once the pandemic ends. Another 39 percent even believe the unsavory practice of “ghosting” will become a thing of the past in 2021.

Laid-back Valentine’s Day

Commissioned by Plenty of Fish, the study also finds that despite singles’ desire to find that special someone, seven in 10 single or dating Americans feel less romantic pressure about this year’s Valentine’s Day compared to previous years.

The lower pressure, according to respondents, comes from being more likely to hang out with their “quaran-team” — friends, family, or pets — at home (65%). Lower expectations for the holiday this year (52%) and the fact that some people just don’t feel like celebrating (43%) are also taking the pressure off of making grand gestures this Valentine’s Day.

Overall, 39 percent of people say they already have plans for Valentine’s Day this year. Of them, romantic plans include having a dinner date at home (54%), a romantic date outdoors (50%), and a virtual date night (46%).

“While Valentine’s Day might look different in 2021, singles have spent the last year learning how to date from a distance by using technology to connect virtually more than ever,” says Shannon Smith, Director of PR, Plenty of Fish, in a statement. “Tools like video chatting or our live streaming feature allow singles to get to know each other, in a low-pressure way, from the comfort of their home.”

Pandemic heartbreak

As if 2020 wasn’t bad enough, it also threw a wrench into plenty of relationships too. More than two in five respondents (43%) say they went through a breakup right before or during the pandemic. Almost half the poll (45%) say their relationships ended because they didn’t see eye-to-eye on the importance of mask-wearing, social distancing, and other pandemic protocols.

Interestingly, 55 percent say they would consider getting back together with an ex once life returns to normal, but these pandemic protocols are the new deal breakers for relationships in 2021. In fact, over half of single or dating Americans (55%) agree that they will not go out with someone who is not willing to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

Notably, 52 percent would still rather date virtually than in-person. Respondents add that they think some of the adjustments singles made to connect with others while social distancing in 2020 will stay in place this year. Forty-four percent will continue to have phone dates, 37 percent remain open to long-distance dating, and 32 percent will continue video chatting.

“The last year has posed some unique challenges for singles navigating dating, but we’re seeing a renewed interest in fostering deeper, more meaningful connections,” Smith says. “Singles are entering 2021 with clarity on what they’re looking for and what truly matters to them, and we look forward to seeing many successful relationships begin this year.”