The year 2020 presented a unique and never-before-seen set of challenges, some of which we hope to forget someday. Climate-related events, social justice issues and the global pandemic affected just about every area of our lives and the way we dated was no different.
In 2020, daters shifted to online mediums, just as our collective priorities in relationships shifted too. When we’d previously approached dating as a fun and relaxed activity that in the best case scenario resulted in a lasting relationship or at least some good sex, during the pandemic, dating became somewhat more serious as we searched for a quality partner to isolate with, especially when we saw no end to the turbulence.
Such circumstances may have influenced what is now considered one of 2020’s biggest dating trends: apocalypsing.
According to Plenty of Fish, the dating platform which coined the term, apocalypsing occurs when you treat every relationship like it’s your last. Whether it’s always been your pattern or a newer way of thinking during 2020, someone who’s apocalypsing may feel an urge to take the next steps and lock it down with the person they’re dating, whether or not they’re a good match, believing the relationship to be their last chance at love.
In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, daters began apocalypsing with people not entirely suited to them out of a fear of being without companionship in trying times. And if you found yourself turning a blind eye to red flags, compromising on your wants and needs from a partner or letting behaviours slide that wouldn’t normally fly with you, then you may unknowingly have been contributing to this new trend.
According to Plenty of Fish’s data, the trend of apocalypsing became rather common during iso periods. One-third of singles said they knew of someone who had done it before, and nearly a third of Gen Z daters admitted to doing it themselves.
As for why we might find ourselves apocalypsing? Experts have a few theories. For starters, a lack of physical touch may have had an effect to exacerbate feelings of affection in those rare moments of touching.
“You find someone you could be okay with, and it feels nice to have that connection. When we touch each other for 15 seconds or more, whether we’re hugging each other, kissing, putting our hand on someone’s shoulder or leg, it releases oxytocin, the hormone our body releases that makes us feel attached and gives us connected, loving feelings. It may increase that attachment at the onset,” Danielle Forshee, Psy.D, LCSW, a psychologist and marriage therapist tells Refinery29.
“That may be what’s leading people to think ‘oh, this feels really good, I don’t want to let this go. Let me just stay here’.”
Another theory suggests that our disconnection from family and friends may heighten our sense of trust in new connections. “The more socially isolated we are, the more likely we are to get attached to somebody,” Dr. Forshee tells the publication. “If we’re feeling lonely and we want emotional connection, we should lean on our social supports in our quarantine pod, rather than someone who’s new or just for now.”
According to Dr. Forshee, the best ways to protect yourself against apocalypsing onto a new connection is to maintain a close circle of friends and family who you can rely on for physical and emotional support. The more you feel supported, the less likely you may be to attach so strongly to someone who isn’t right for you.
In addition, remind yourself regularly of your relationship values and what you actually want from a partner. In every new relationship, be sure to check in with these when you start to fall, and acknowledge when you may be compromising on too much of what’s important to you.