Spring is in the air, could romance be too? A new survey has the answers

The coronavirus pandemic has made significant changes to the way in which we live, and none more so than in the area of dating and relationships. Together with dating app Inner Circle, we explore some of the behavioural differences that research has uncovered, and talk to people about how they plan to date in a post-pandemic world.

Spring is in the air, could romance be too? A new survey has the answers
Photo: Getty Images

2020’s State of Dating report, commissioned by Inner Circle, revealed that – perhaps unsurprisingly – our love lives have taken a hit. Government restrictions and public health measures led 55 percent of respondents to say that they dated less. A further 33 percent stated that they didn’t view dating as a priority during the lockdowns. Much of this sentiment can be tied to the fact that most respondents prefer to meet a partner face to face, with 47 percent of participants responding to that effect. 

Join Inner Circle today and learn more about their approach to dating. 

‘I got to know my sofa’

In interviews conducted by The Local, this sentiment was repeated. Miguel, a Canadian now in Paris found that dating came to a “screeching halt” and that he went from getting to know the city and its people, to “getting to know my sofa”. He continues saying that, “During the first lockdown we were only allowed to leave the house for exercise, or to get groceries – dating was not on the form we needed to have, trust me, I looked”.

Elena, an Australian comedian based in Berlin, found that dating fell by the wayside, as services sprung up to fill the needs of those locked down. As she told us, “All of our needs are met, we can order anything from Amazon, like food delivery or a vibrator”. Elena also reflected that lockdowns led to a significant restriction in dating options. “On first dates you normally would go to a restaurant, nightclub or live music gig. However, those options are not there, it’s either their place, or yours… or a walk in the park”.

Elena performing at a comedy club. Pic: Supplied

Light (and love) at the end of the tunnel

However, all is not lost. Research by Inner Circle showed that there is optimism, hope and a real desire for connection. In France, while 43 percent of respondents were optimistic about their love life, 70 percent have said that they consider their romantic meetings more important this coming year. Additionally, 67 percent seek to make more effort to meet this year and almost three-quarters of those surveyed are looking to commit to a relationship. If you’re single, now really is the time to get involved.

Meanwhile, in Italy – a traditional holdout against online dating apps – Inner Circle saw a 151 percent increase in users than at the same time last year, with a 47.8 percent increase in traffic over the first month of the year. It seems that spirits are improving and love once again is in the air, especially in romantic hotspots like Rome and Milan.

Join the Inner Circle, download the app and start meeting people today! 

(Pic:Inner Circle)

A helping hand 

For those looking for a partner, apps such as Inner Circle provide an enjoyable, direct way to meet people. Curated profiles, conversation prompts and friendly advice help users to make their best impression, and it’s easy to let others know how, where and when you wish to meet under Covid-19 guidelines.

Unlike many dating apps, Inner Circle also makes sure to screen profiles, to ensure that users have included good photos of themselves and rich information that helps others discover them. No more endless swiping – profiles on Inner Circle tell a story, one that you may want to be a part of.

Once restrictions are lifted, Inner Circle will recommence their popular events in France, Italy and Spain, allowing users to meet in a fun and flirtatious environment. They’re a consistent sell-out, so we’re sure they’ll be plenty of singles wanting to get their hands on tickets.

So how are those we spoke to hoping to date post-pandemic? Elena in Berlin tells us, “I think I will definitely know what I really want in a partner and won’t settle for people who aren’t all in. I think this time has given a lot of us a more focused approach to dating, rather than pre-Covid, when it was full of distractions.” Miguel in Paris has similar thoughts, “On a personal level, I think I’m going to be more direct and not waste any more time. If something isn’t working, I’m going to move on and keep looking”.

Ready to get out there and meet someone? Sign up for Inner Circle today, and see who the world has in store for you!


‘Break the apron strings’: Ten golden rules for dating a Spanish man

Spanish men are great at playing the dating game says Sally Smith, a seasoned participant in Madrid's dating scene. Just watch out for their mothers - and their wives.

'Break the apron strings': Ten golden rules for dating a Spanish man
Photo: Ander Guillenea/AFP

When Sally, a Brit, arrived in Madrid several years ago she had the rather unrealistic expectation that Javier Bardem lookalikes would be queuing up to sweep her off her feet. The reality has been somewhat different.

Now in her 30s and a seasoned veteran of the dating scene she tells the Local how to avoid the pitfalls of a Spanish mummy´s boy and the perils of communicating through the language barrier.

Here are Sally´s top ten tips for navigating the perilous path to true love in Spain.

1 – Breaking the apron strings

dating tips spain
King Felipe VI with his wife Queen Letizia and his mother emeritus Queen Sofia on either side of him. Photo: AFP

If you believe you can move the relationship along at a snail´s pace and build up to meeting the family at around the six- month mark, then think again. If he´s into you then you can expect him to ask you to meet his mum, cousins and uncle Jose pretty quickly. Spanish men typically are still living at home until well into their 30s so his mum is likely to be the queen of his world (who irons his pants and gives him a Tupperware to take to the office).

I avoided this by always trying to choose men whose family lived in another city, or preferably another country. Latin American guys are good for this reason (though wrong for so many others).

You better make mummy happy. It´s a deal breaker.

2 – Take a dictionary

tips dating spain
Photo: Olya Nadia/Unsplash

At intercambios (language exchanges) you won´t just be swapping your mother tongues. These places are sweaty, sleazy pulling fests where the weak do not survive.  Beware of guys who are looking for a ‘2 for 1’ bonus of sex with you and free English classes. Another word to the wise… if your Spanish level isn´t great, you could end up dating a boring loser and not even realize until he has cleared out a drawer for you in the wardrobe of his mum´s house where he lives.

3 – Get online

tips dating spain Actors Catherine Deneuve and Rossy de Palma, perhaps debating whethe to swipe left or right on Tinder. Photo: LOIC VENANCE / AFP

That said, when it comes to internet dating, having the language barrier can be a big positive. Use the fact that you are an English speaker as your selling point in your profile and there will be a lot more swipes to the right. Plus you can weed out weirdos before you actually meet. Just beware of misleading profiles: guys who cover up their faces with sunglasses or baseball caps to hide how they really look, selfie-mirror dudes and any man with his shirt off (unless you are looking for a one night stand too). 

4 – Avoid Peter Pan

tips dating spanish men

Photo: Jakob Owens/Unsplash

Deciding to date from the expat pool can be risky indeed. On the one hand you don’t need Word Reference to send a Whatsapp message to them, on the other hand beware of the immature travelling type who will not only avoid commitment with any woman, but also be incapable of simple tasks like wearing a pair of matching socks or having a bank account.

5 – Don’t expect him to keep up

tips dating spanish men
Photo: Social Butterfly/Pixabay

As a British woman, I can tell you for sure that I can drink any Spanish guy under the table. He is stumbling to the bathroom to throw up on his shoes and I am searching for the shots menu. That´s all well and good until you have to dodge the obligatory goodnight kiss. Moderation please. Drink like a fish and there will be no Latin loving later.

6 – Play up your non-crazy side

Most Pablitos who have been around the block will have come across their fair share of drama with local señoritas – think Penélope Cruz in Vicky Cristina Barcelona and you´ll get the picture. If you seem like a cool chica who is low maintenance and won´t get jealous because they want some time out with the boys, you´ll come across as a breath of fresh air in Spain.

7 – Forget about timekeeping

tips dating spain

Former Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy checking he’s going to make it to the after-Congress party on time. Photo by PIERRE-PHILIPPE MARCOU / AFP

Don’t expect fixed plans days in advance with a slow build up, or even a clear idea of what you will be doing and when. If you arrive on time, you´ll be sipping your two euro glass of Rueda totally alone for at least 20 minutes to half an hour.

8 – Beware of the Rodríguez phenomenon

tips dating spanish menPhoto: JACK TAYLOR / AFP

When a married Spanish man gets left alone in the big city in the summer while his long suffering wife takes the kids to the beach house, watch out! When men stay at home and their partners leave for a while, it’s called estar de Rodríguez in Spanish. These men are looking for a good time and what better gift from heaven than a foreign girl new to Spain ready to start their engines? Look for the ring indentation on their right hand. Once you see it, run like the wind.

9 – Tear up the rules of seduction

tips dating spainFormer bullfighter Jesulín de Ubrique (left) had a reputation for being a bit of ladies’ man. Photo by DOMINIQUE FAGET / AFP

Being used to a rather less seductive approach of picking up women from my British exes, I was happily surprised at the way in which Spanish men played the game. Words that would seem ridiculous coming from an English speaker take on a new charm when spoken with a Spanish accent. He’ll mostly stick to the traditional plans of dinner, drinks and the cinema at the early stage. When it comes to who pays, I have seen both ends of the spectrum from the stingiest to the most generous. My belief is, if he doesn´t think you are worth at least a meal, bin him.

10 – Remember that old traditions die hard

A still from Pedro Almodóvar’s film “Volver”, which similarly to most of his films has strong-willed Spanish women at the forefront.

Of course Spain has come a long way in terms of equality between men and women, but there is still a long way to go. If you survive the dating stage and think about getting serious and moving in together, it can become a battle of the sexes. If he has only lived with ‘la madre’ and his accommodating sisters, then you could be looking at an uphill battle not to take over this role and do the lion’s share of the housework. Try and date a guy who has already lived with someone and therefore comes adequately trained.

Sally Smith is a British woman in her 30s who has been living in Madrid since 2010. After finishing her degree in Psychology she moved to Spain to teach and sing in a band while undertaking an unofficial psychological study of Spanish men.

READ MORE: Seven of the best cheesy chat up lines in Spanish