Love, marriage and a baby carriage, right? This has been the blueprint of dating for generations. However, Millennials and Generation Z-ers have shaken things up and given it a spin all their own. With more focus on careers, education and finances, many Millennials and Gen Z-ers are turning to less conventional ways of meeting someone special.
In previous generations, Baby Boomers and Generation X-ersfollowed a more traditional style of courtship. Meeting a matewas as simple as courting your high school sweetheart, socializing at local hangouts or falling in love with your neighborhood crush. For Millennials and Generation Z-ers,dating can be a bit more complex. With the introduction of social media, “shooting your shot” is as easy as direct messaging your crush or double-tapping your favorite photo.
Although dating throughout the generations has changed, one issue all generations face in finding that special someone is COVID-19. With restrictions on social interactions, meeting someone new can prove to be a daunting task at any age. Dating apps, while not new, have become a fresh way to connect withpotential suitors.
While longstanding apps such as Tinder and Bumble cater to singles of all demographics, a recent app is quickly growing and catering to a specific community, African Americans. Launching in 2017, BLK, a subsidiary of match.com, has seen 3.5 million downloads since its beginning.
Jonathan Kirkland, director of brand marketing for BLK, says the app was designed to place African American singles in the forefront.
“We’re seeing it was something needed in the Black community,” Kirkland says. “There’s no other app that’s putting Black people first.”
Although the app is designed for Black singles, the app does not exclude singles of other races from joining.
“It is created for the Black community. With that said, we are not exclusionary for people who aren’t Black,” Kirkland explains.
Despite being a place for singles to mingle, BLK not only serves as a dating app, but as a lifestyle brand as well. Kirkland cites the app as being a place where members can be their authentic selves.
“Everything we do from marketing, branding and an advertising standpoint is catered to the Black community,” Kirkland says.“It will be a lifestyle brand and a place to engage with the Black community. We want to make sure we offer what the community wants.”
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to force a new way of life, Kirkland said the onset of the pandemic has helped the app grow.
“COVID’s been terrible for the world and community, but great for the app,” Kirkland says. “We’ve seen 61 percent more messages sent in the app and 39 percent more swipes.”
During April, in the height of the national health crisis, BLK hit a growth spurt.
“Our active members continue to grow. Since April, we’ve seen our active members grow 40 percent,” Kirkland shared.
The app has also introduced new features to help its users sound off about the pandemic.
“Since COVID hit, we’ve allowed members to express their sentiment and add it to their profiles,” Kirkland shares.
With dating apps and meeting potential suitors online, safety measures are a key priority. Kirkland says the team at BLK is dedicated to keeping its members as safe as possible.
“We have a dedicated care team. If there is any cat fishing or derogatory remarks, the care team usually gets back to you that day (if reporting the incident),” Kirkland said.
BLK has seen success in matching couples of all age ranges. Using the app’s social media handles and email, couples have been able to share their success stories.
“We’ve had people reach out via email. As we look at these couples, we’ve seen all shapes and sizes, and even same-sex couples,” Kirkland says.
In addition to dating apps, virtual dating has become another tool in the dating arsenal. Zoom and FaceTime have provided a new way to date while social distancing. Not only used in the workplace, both apps provide a way to meet face-to-face without leaving the comforts of your home.
As Millennials and Generation Z-ers continue to navigate the dating world, other non-traditional ways of meeting someone new have begun to emerge. Recently, social media caught wind of various photographers offering blind dates with a twist. Stranger photoshoots or “stranger shoots” happen when a photographer offers two complete strangers the chance to take part in an intimate photo session.
Although the subjects do not know each other, once the shoot is wrapped and the photos are produced, the once-strangers seem to have known each other for a lifetime. Often seen cuddling, holding hands and in some cases kissing, the strangers turned partners often exchange numbers and date once the shoot is over.
Although there is no clear-cut way to date, Millennials and Generation Z-ers are taking the reins and creating their own paths to love. For more information on BLK, follow them on Instagram.