Nothing Is More Subjective Than Love
I recently went to one of London’s must-see sites, Piccadilly Circus. The Shaftesbury Memorial Fountain at its center was built to honor philanthropist and social reformer of the 19th century Antony Ashley-Cooper, the 7th Earl of Shaftesbury. To honor his charitable work, the sculpture that sits atop the fountain is a winged figure with a crossbow representing the Greek god of selfless love, Anteros.
Amongst the collective though, the figure evolved to represent his brother Eros, the Greek god of romantic love. Eros (or Cupid to many) garnered more attention throughout the following decades to the point that a winged figure with a crossbow and the word “love” next to it would only represent one version of that distinctly human emotion.
The subjectivity of love, particularly the one pertaining to romance and desire, only increased once Eros got new tools in the 21st century. Eros moved from matching in offline settings like restaurants/bars, universities/colleges, or regular gatherings between friends to using desktops and laptops with internet connection. These digital connections did not create a critical mass of matches, but Eros saw what could be.
Not 10 years later, Eros refined his toolkit to include smartphones with touch interfaces. They helped Eros generate a rush of positive energy about the process of having fun-loving adventures before finding love anywhere and at any time. It eventually overtook all other settings to become the largest community of romantic relationships. Eros had it all under control, or so we thought.
Even as apps on mobile devices became the go-to space to search for love, they did so by both overwhelming (too many choices) and underwhelming (few right choices) online daters.1 And then… Covid-19 hit. This once-every-100-year global pandemic forced all to exclusively use digital interconnectivity to communicate. Lockdowns and lack of in-person face-to-face human interaction propelled Eros and his digital tools to new heights as almost half of adults started socializing (and dating) virtually more than before the pandemic.
The Ever-Changing Business of Love
As change is here once again, understanding how people make those decisions when dating today is vital for Eros to better meet expectations in the future. Research has identified two key tensions constantly pulling and pushing them.
The first one relates to temporal rewards. Post-pandemic dating involves people making a split-second decision about whether their goal is a short-term release or build for a long-term payoff. Plenty follow the former as Eros tends to elicit thrilling and exhilarating emotions with ease.
The second tension, which relates to an emotive state, has appealed to more post-pandemic. People move between an individualistic state (you need to elevate yourself) and a state of togetherness (you need to belong). Covid-19 accelerated the trend of people striving for the latter because, if it happens again, they want the right person by their side.
This state of flux when dating post-pandemic implies that nothing is etched in stone regarding which type of love most will want. Even when it is, like on a fountain in Piccadilly Circus, it may take on a whole new meaning depending on the eye of the beholder.2
Currently, there is too much effort demanded of online daters and they see little reward. “The search for a like-minded person should not be this hard,” is a common response. They are now demanding more value alignment. Connecting people based on specific tastes (for instance, music preferences, possession of pets, or the decision whether to have children or not) right from the start is not a novel approach (even 30% of all online daters are open to faith-based dating)3. However, it is bound to increase in significance as more people are unwilling to compromise.
Another demand relates to the quality of the matches presented. For Eros and the partners that provided the digital tools, this means going beyond the superficial cues and providing more relevant context. An image is usually the first impression people make online. Adding video or audio to this first impression helps but there is so much more required to improve the experience.
Highlighting the priorities each person has and putting them in the forefront helps see the person behind the profile. Additionally, an influx of too many matches also diminishes the “quality” of each. If there are several “the ones,” how credible is that?
Change for the Better
Eros and his digital partners are at another crossroads. Most people that Eros connects online use unpaid opportunities to search for and find love. Research uncovered that after this global pandemic, willingness to pay for a better experience is strong.4 Paying users are expected to grow, both in relative and absolute terms. People will accept nothing less than their ideal when their time and money are involved.
Post-pandemic daters need a digital setting where they can begin their search and feel confident their journey toward connection will succeed. One that shows you the real places where real people can start meaningful relationships. A digital setting where people will have an ally throughout the entire process to avoid the overwhelming and underwhelming sensations. One that brings two like-minded people together to start a journey to a happier, more fulfilling emotive state.
Eros, with the help of Zoosk, can provide an uplifting and supportive digital setting to online daters in this post-pandemic world. Together can start with Zoosk.
1,2,3,4 Spark Networks Consumer Needs Study, 2022