Our top 10 predictions for love, dating, sex and relationship trends in 2011.
Let's face it: The world is still a scary, unstable and uncertain place. What's here today may very well be gone tomorrow, whether it be our 401ks, our jobs or our relationships. Last Thanksgiving, the world stood rapt in wonder at the trials and tribulations of Tiger Woods. As 2010 unfolded, our interest turned to disgust as we collectively pronounced This Man IS NOT a role model. We later watched with surprise as celebrity couple after celebrity couple, once seemingly happy, suddenly split. Doesn't anybody stay together anymore? David and Courteney—Not you guys, too?
So what will 2011 bring? YourTango went to the experts for their predictions, and has come back to you with the following list. May it serve you well.
1. Monogamy will be hot. In 2011, lifestyle designer and relationship expert Lissa Coffey predicts that marriage—or at least monogamy—will become fashionable again. One only has to look to Jessica Simpson's New Year's wedding, or Katy Perry's lux Indian bridal fete, to see that commitment is the new black. So will it be for us mere mortals.
Coffey adds, "We will see a return to relationship-based values rather than material-based values. Time and money spent on community, and charity, rather than on luxury items or designer purses. Couples taking vacations where they can be of service at the same time, less self-indulgent behavior... As we see more same-sex couples celebrating their commitments and raising children, this will no longer be a controversial issue and by the 2012 elections we will see more states adopting the right to marry for everyone." Here's hoping that's the truth!
2. People in a relationship will accept the status quo. That said, even though celebrities may be rushing to the altar (or to divorce court), the rest of us will happily stay where we are in our relationships, provided they're good ones.
"More couples will hold off on marriage, and married couples will put off divorce/separation until the economy rebounds," predicts licensed therapist Don Boice, who has seen a surge in couples who were formerly married and now separated debating getting back together and trying to make it work. He also predicts a higher level of interracial couples and couples where the woman is older by more than five years.
3. For singles, dating deal breakers will fly out the door. Do you remember the list you made in middle school? The one that included Tall, Dark, Handsome, Plays The Guitar, Skates? Perhaps it's a little bit outdated now. The Great Recession has radically transformed our lives and our values and, just like our economy must de-leverage the bad assets, so too will we have to rethink what we consider an ideal mate.
Ph.D. and author of The Intelligent Woman's Guide to Online Dating, Dale Koppel predicts men and women will "radically revise their deal breaker lists and lower their expectations, especially in terms of physical appearance and age." What will be important? How financially secure the other person is, he says. Now he ain't saying we're all going to become gold-diggers, just that a financially stable partner will be higher up on our "must have" list.
4. We'll return to traditional gender roles. With that in mind, according to Paris-based astrologer Michelle Perrin, men will start to make a comeback and take a leading-man role in relationships. Says Perrin: "Uranus is now moving into Aries, the first sign of the zodiac—and therefore starting a new 84-year cycle. As Aries is a masculine sign, [you'll see men not wanting to] be relegated to the silent partner while the women take center stage, as has been the case recently. Men are more likely to set the tone in relationships, and be far more adventurous, strong and protective."
5. Dating via Twitter and Facebook will skyrocket. Where we fall for a mate will continue to evolve just as much as whom we fall for and what we want. Don't be surprised to start hearing, Oh, we met on Twitter could be one. I found him amidst a 4Square swarm one summer night, could be another.
YourTango expert Julie Spira concurs, "Both singles and couples in existing relationships are super busy, often working harder with a smaller paycheck. Time is a luxury. As a result, you will see more relationships forming as a result of Twitter and Facebook, and yes, we will watch them break up in real time with their status updates. Dates will be made via text messages instead of phone calls and breakups won't happen face-to-face. Long-distance love will continue to grow. Skype dates and using your webcam to keep your relationship exciting with your beau while he is away will be on the rise."
6. Mobile dating will reach the mainstream. "I think 2011 will be the breakout year for mobile-based online dating," says Dan Abelon, co-founder and president of SpeedDate.com. "We are already seeing about 30 percent of all new SpeedDate users coming from our iPhone or iPad applications and that number keeps increasing each month. As more and more singles turn to their mobile devices for meeting others, the face of online dating will continue to evolve including the way love connections are made. The greatest difference of course is speed and convenience, and faster mobile services will no doubt ensure that real-time dating remains possible even while on the go."
7. We'll be smarter about sexting. Speaking of phones, let's talk about sexts. According to a recent Pew research study, sexting reaches about 15 percent of teenagers' phones, and up to nearly a third (31 percent) of young adults' (18-29). Sexually suggestive images sent to the privacy of the phone have become a form of relationship currency, noted participants in the study. Kanye, Tiger, Brett... seems like everyone's doing it. And getting caught, too. In 2011, expect to see new etiquette rules around this trend. Want to send your new squeeze a picture of your tatas that cannot be resent, copied or retweeted? Well, there'll be an app for that, too.
8. Couples will enact social media bans. As much as Twitter, Facebook and the iPhone are good at creating relationships, they're equally as efficient at tearing them down. Just think about the ways social media can stir up drama for those in a monogamous relationship: Inappropriate and/or flirty comments on your wall that lead to misunderstandings and hurt feelings. Private messages that cross the line, blurring the territory between friendship and virtual or emotional cheating. Connecting with an ex who reignites old flames that perhaps should be left in the past. The list goes on and on.
"Those with an interest in maintaining their relationships will require their partners to abandon [social media]," says Farrah Parker, a marketing consultant who doubles as an Interpersonal Relationship instructor. "Couples who do not need added strain may opt to flee from all things social media. Considering our increasing reliance upon virtual communication, savvy couples will recognize the dire need to devote attention to their 'real' friends and not to those who only exist in the form of a thumbnail photo."
9. People will abandon online dating in favor of matchmakers. The singleton shares this social media relationship angst as well. In 2011, expect to see more romantic hopefuls reaching out to family and friends for relationship connections and blind dates. "Young clients in their 20s feeling disappointed and disillusioned about their experiences with online dating tell me they're giving in to the possibility that family and friends might hold some potential that they will now consider," says Sharon Gilchrest O'Neill marriage/relationship therapist and author of A Short Guide to a Happy Marriage. "Hearing this from clients has me suggesting it to others in therapy and, unlike years back, I'm not getting the immediate, absolute 'are you kidding?!'"
10. Astrology will prove prescient. Getting back to astrology detective Michelle Perrin, there will be a number of major planetary shifts in 2011. These planets will be moving into signs that are more suitable for their energies. According to Perrin, these are the main trends in store of 2011, which line up with what our non-astrological experts are predicting:
- Commitment will be in; casual sex will be out.
- We will move away from relationships that are based on fear and need of security, or anxiety about being judged, to truly authentic relationships that are unique and liberating.
- Men will step up and take a greater role in the partnership dynamic.
- Love will be based on fun, adventure and spontaneity.
- There will be a decline in Internet dating (and a rise in mobile dating?).
So there you have it! Both the stars and the experts are predicting that Mr. Right may not be handsome, but that doesn't matter because you won't be judging him based on an online dating profile. He may have even been clued in to your whereabouts by your well-intentioned (but worried) mother. And yes, he does want a relationship... an exclusive relationship that will be more than a status update, but one for the ages, too. Bring it on 2011!
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