Dating in the UK

Updated 2021-09-15 09:45

Lockdown in the UK has eased since mid-July 2021, also allowing for dating activities to resume. Single people have been looking forward to meeting their matches in person and going out on real-life dates. With pubs and restaurants reopening, singles can start putting themselves out there again through dating. During the lockdown, dating apps and online dating gained more popularity, but it?s not necessarily the only way of finding love. According to YouGov, in 2020, 18% of couples met their partner through work, 18% through friends, and 15% while out and about.

Online dating apps

According to data by Statista, the main reasons people turn to online dating apps are to find people who share the same interests as them and find a long-term partner. There are over 1,400 location-based and profile-based online dating sites in the UK. However, British people are still concerned about safety when using dating apps, and users admit that careful background checks would encourage them to use dating apps more frequently. In addition, some users feel that dating apps don't offer much choice in their area or don't create personalised matches. Last but not least, nowadays, the stance on COVID-19 seems to influence people's dating choices and decisions. Users of dating apps have expressed their concern about what their matches think of COVID-19 restrictions, whether they have been vaccinated or not, and how lawfully they follow the COVID-19 rules.

Good to know:

Check out Expat.com's article about how to meet people in the UK for ideas on how to increase your chances of finding love in the UK. If you are in London, we have a dedicated article on expanding your social network in London.

COVID-19 considerations:

Dating apps' users increased significantly during the pandemic.

Match Group, the company that owns Tinder and OkCupid, witnessed a 15% rise in new subscribers in Q2 2020.

Useful links:

Eharmony: for serious relationships

Match.com: make a start on dating and have safe video dates

Silver Singles: 50 dating

OkCupid: for every single person, the app was the first to introduce 22 genders and 13 sexual orientation options

Happn: connect with users you cross paths with in the street

Telegraph Dating: for mature dating

Dating scams

Online dating is risky. According to UK Finance, in the first half of 2019, £8 million were lost to dating scams, and one in five daters have been asked to give or have given money to someone they met on the internet. The amount of money lost in 2019 is double the amount that was reported the previous year. Dating scams aren't unavoidable, but you have to be cautious and aware at all times. For example, if you come across a suspicious online profile, report it to the dating app. Also, don't blindly trust people with the information they give you, but do your research about them on Google and other social media to verify that what they have told you about themselves (e.g. profession, location, marital status, etc.) is accurate. Usually, people shouldn't ask you for money unless you have built a trustworthy relationship through time and they have a genuine reason to need your financial contribution. Overall, you should never give out too much personal information (e.g. home address, phone number, email, bank account details, etc.) to people you have met on the internet and haven't had the chance to know that well. Consider creating a new email address for online dating only, and if you want to give a mobile number, consider having a spare device with a pay as you go SIM card.

Tip:

Read Expat.com's article about making phone calls in the UK to decide what's the best option for you when it comes to communicating via the phone with people you meet on dating apps.

Meeting new people beyond the internet

Dating apps are on the rise without meaning that the traditional ways of meeting people have disappeared. People continue to meet their partners through friends, in social events, at work, in the pub or at the local cafe. It's very likely to meet the love of your life on a spontaneous night out with your friends, and people should not feel the pressure to download dating apps. Expat.com used to organise local events where you could meet new people and connect with other expats. Due to COVID-19, physical events aren't taking place for the time being, but you can go to Expat.com's UK forum to engage with other expats in a safe and interactive environment.

Tip:

See who's in the England expat community by nationality, age, status, and gender.

Making the date fun

The first day with a person you don't know well is a pleasantly uncomfortable situation, almost like a game. It's advisable to be yourself, but at the same time try to be your best self. British people are adventurous when it comes to dating, and they like trying out new things or going to new places when dating. According to the Metro survey, 45% said they would like to explore new places, and 38% wanted the right balance between order and spontaneity when out with a date. Hence, it may not be a good idea to take someone to dine in darkness on your first date, but maybe it's not that risky to invite them to an exclusive dining experience where dining takes place in a private log cabin (we have seen it among London's quirky places to eat).

Good to know:

Our article about things to do in the UK can give you excellent ideas for the first, second, and third dates.

COVID-19 considerations:

According to Relate, during the lockdown, couples reassessed their priorities. Sixty-one per cent realised that relationships are important elements of life, leading to 8% breaking up with their current partner and 10% proposing.

Dating etiquette

Following the tradition, in the UK, a man is expected to ask a woman out on a date and organise where they will go and how they will spend their time together (e.g. dining first followed by drinks or the theatre). When you meet your date for the first time, a handshake should be enough. In the UK, a kiss on the cheek means that you already know the other person quite well. British people's body language is quite reserved, and physical contact is largely kept for private interactions out of the public eye. Similarly, emotions aren't expressed publicly. Chivalry is still very much alive in the UK. So being a gentleman is welcomed, or expecting courteous behaviour (e.g. opening the door for your date, paying the bill, etc.) from a man on your date is usual. At the same time, gender equality is strong in the UK, and many women may confuse chivalry for sexism. Get to know where your date stands on this before you offer to pay the bill or run to open the taxi door for them.

Good to know:

The dating dress code in the UK is smart-casual, and it's acceptable to go on a date straight after work.

We do our best to provide accurate and up to date information. However, if you have noticed any inaccuracies in this article, please let us know in the comments section below.