Return Of High School Crush & Dating Trends To Watch Out For In 2024

In 2024, the era of dating and relationships will witness a rapid shift as the world begins embracing the digital age inclusive of dating and social media apps.

Return Of High School Crush & Dating Trends To Watch Out For In 2024
A photo of a couple in an open relationship. /FILE

No matter how tough times may come due to the economy and other factors, our love lives seem to change every year as the countdown to Valentine's Day on February 14 begins with slightly more than a month to go.

In 2024, the era of dating and relationships will witness a rapid shift as the world begins embracing the digital age inclusive of dating and social media apps.

Moreover, with the cost of living worsening and date ideas becoming more expensive, Kenyans, in particular, will have to shift to austerity methods in their quest to win over 'The One', amidst an exorbitant hypergamy era, that is a woman who works as a lawyer demanding that she dates a pilot.

Hypergamy: the action of marrying or forming a sexual relationship with a person of a superior sociological or educational background.

Viral Tea takes a look at dating trends we may witness in 2024:

Less Attraction to Money

The economic climate not just in Kenya but around the world will play a big part in shaping dating this year. With higher prices for everyday needs, it is expected that people will be more intentional with where they spend their time and money.

Photo collage of a woman and her man and a bundle of Kenyan notes. /VIRALTEAKE

As Viral Tea previously explained, Kenyan men even while broke will have to look at aspects such as confidence and positivity, communication skills, passion and ambition, personal grooming and hygiene among others as aspects they will use to attract a woman who is even beyond their league.

Young couples will thus look into the 'joy' economy which involves special experiences that bring happiness in an uncertain future.

This will mean more free dates such as walks around a residential area or during budget events and concerts.

Digital-First Socialising

The rise in remote work which came at the cost of real-life connections has caused a seismic social shift that’s particularly impacting younger couples, many of whom came of age during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The unintended consequence of remote work is that people socialize less in real life. Spontaneity, organic relationships and run-ins are almost untenable, that is, there’s a lot less ‘let’s grab a drink after work’ or ‘I met someone interesting in a lift’ when you’re working from your sofa set in your sleeping clothes all day.

As a result, Gen Z has turned to online forums, dating and friendship apps, video games and other social media apps for connection, which has led to an abyss of options rooted in the superficiality of looks and likes.

With the advancement of virtual reality (VR) technology, there might be an increase in virtual dating experiences. People could use VR to meet and interact with potential partners in immersive virtual environments.

Also, the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in matchmaking algorithms may become more sophisticated, providing individuals with more accurate and personalized matches based on their preferences, behaviours, and compatibility.

Increased Focus On Mental Health

The emotional toll of online dating, that is the matches that don’t reply, the ones you chat with fruitlessly for a year, the ones you do meet in real life but then ghost you, is seeing many potential couples scale back their efforts or stop altogether.

Ghosting: the practice of ending a personal relationship with someone suddenly and without explanation, withdrawing from all communication

This has been coined “considered dating,” according to Bumble’s sex and relationship expert Shan Boodram.

“More than half of singles are more open about their mental health, and they’re making a concerted effort to slow down,” she states, adding “People are seeing dating as an extension of their mental health practices.”

This also means people are more likely to extend grace to someone who cancels a date because they’re having a bad mental health day of their own. According to Boodram, considered dating is not just acknowledging our own needs in dating, but extending that to other people.

Less Focus On Milestones

A phenomenon known as the ‘timeline decline’ is seeing an increasing number of people, women in particular, letting go of the tired scripts that say you need to be married by a certain age, or at all.

A man putting a wedding ring on his woman. /FILE

Every generation before the current one was on what’s called the ‘relationship escalator,’ and it moved so much quicker to the point that people are not only slowing it down but getting off it altogether.

"It’s just not that meaningful for them to couple up for the sake of coupling up," states Boodram.

More authenticity (Come As You Are)

People are growing tired of having to be skinnier, prettier, smarter and more woke, leading to a trend dubbed “Betterment Burnout.”

While personal growth is great, there’s a point where you need a break from trying to be better than before. With that comes acceptance for people not to be their ‘after,’ whatever that is.

Blurring of Relationship Definitions

“NATO” dating, meaning “not attached to the outcome”, has emerged, according to Tinder’s 2023 year-end trend report.

Instead of rushing into a ‘happily ever after,’ people are focusing on using the dating journey to accumulate a roster of new experiences and memories that enhance their personal stories, which include bad dates, good dates, and getting ghosted.

Clinging on to the old relationship definition binaries is also fading away, and embracing intentional ambiguity comes in as a replacement. Historically, relationships have very distinctly fallen into categories; you’re either friends, or you’re romantically involved.

Instead of centring a social media app around the pressure of finding someone who fits neatly into a box for you, users come with no ‘serious’ agenda. That is, they may be looking to banter, for advice, to flirt, to share a confession, or they may just be bored.

The High School/University Crush Revival

With many Kenyans complaining about how their options in the dating pool are dwindling, some are now turning to their past lives for the ones who got away. That is, you may be reading this and talking to your past primary, high school or university crush...or sweetheart.

Surprisingly, there have been many success stories on this and considering the significant changes and personal growth that occur over 20 to 30 years, some may be newly separated or have experienced transformative life events.

Reconnecting with old connections is proving worthwhile, as timing appears to be a crucial factor in these scenarios.

That being said, it's time to go back to your high school/university yearbook to look for details surrounding your crush or DM her if you know her social media handles.

A man and woman as a couple. /HIVISASA.COM