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By: Oksana Kishchuk

The holiday of love is right around the corner, so what better time to reflect on who we love, why we love them, and (you knew this was coming) whether the pandemic has had an impact.

First, a state of play on where things stand on relationships.

Two-thirds (65%) of Canadians are currently in a relationship and one in five have experienced some sort of major change to their relationship status (married/engaged, divorce/breakup, or starting a new, serious relationship) since the start of the pandemic.

  • This number jumps to 38%(!) among 18- to 29-year-olds. Which includes 8% who got married or engaged and 21% who started a new serious relationship.
  • And a more mild but still high 27% among 30-to-44-year-olds, split evenly between separations/divorce, new relationships, and engagement/marriage.

For those of us (still) in relationships, the pandemic has had a net positive impact, or at the very least, no impact at all. 68% love the extra time spent with their partner, while 28% are indifferent, and only 4% hate it. A third of us also say the pandemic has solidified our relationships, but more often than not, we say their hasn’t really been an impact either way.

Unfortunately, those of us looking for love haven’t fared as well during the pandemic. An overwhelming majority (72%) of single Canadians say it is more difficult to date in a pandemic. And, with the playing field having changed, a third have also changed what they are looking for in a relationship/partner.

If you’re thinking, well, ‘online dating is virtual anyways, it can’t be that bad!’ I’m sorry to say that this isn’t the case.

Just over a quarter of Canadians have tried an online dating app or website (Tinder, Bumble, Hinge, Match, The League, eHarmony etc.). For each of these services, there are just as many unhappy users, as happy users (50% satisfied with their experience, 50% were not).

Nothing beats a mutual connection (likely much more difficult these days)- three in four who’ve been set up with a mutual connection are satisfied with the experience.

So, for those of us who’ve found it, and those of us yet to find it, what are we all looking for? What do we all value in relationships? Well, among the list of traits put forward, two clear lists can be made; what’s important, and what’s… not as important.

Emotional compatibility, personal interests compatibility, life priorities/pace compatibility, and physical attraction are in the first category, the most sought after traits for a relationship. They are, more often than not, placed in the top 4 most important traits for a relationship.

Family compatibility, religious/spirituality compatibility, sexual compatibility, and financial compatibility are on the second list and are considered ‘not as important’ things.

For the most part, whether we are in a relationship or not, we are all looking for the same things. That said, those of us in relationships place sexual compatibility a little bit higher, while single Canadians place a bit more importance on personal interest compatibility.

The big differences, however, are between men and women. If you were looking to find something the pandemic hasn’t changed- it seems like quintessential gender stereotypes are on that list. Women are much more likely to place importance on emotional compatibility (65% women vs 57% men) and life priorities/pace compatibility (59% women vs 44% men), whereas men are much more likely to place physical attraction (39% women vs 50% men), and sexual compatibility (22% women vs 36% men) in their top 3.

All that said, there are a few final preferences we wanted to know about, including some that are surprising.

After seeing a few articles on the rise of non-monogamous relationships, we wanted to gauge reactions to the idea. turns out, a quarter of Canadians are at least open to a non-monogamous relationship. This jumps to one in three among single Canadians.

But, what about prenups? These have been on the rise in North America, but how many Canadians would consider one? Well, Just over half of Canadians are open to a prenup or already have one. Again, more common among those of us who are single.

Finally, to end this piece on a high note, do we believe in true love? For the most part, yes! Half of Canadians say yes, they believe in finding ‘the one’, while 32% say maybe, and 13% say not at all. This time, it’s slightly higher among those already in a relationship.

THE UPSHOT

“All things considered, it seems love is still in the air. Nearly all of us might believe in finding the one, with the possibility of a few caveats (prenups and non-monogamy) along the way. And for the most part, we have some level of consensus that ‘the one’ means emotional compatibility (though if it’s men you are interested in, just know physical attraction and sexual compatibility are closer to the top of their list).

Those of us in relationships have fared better over the last couple years- enjoying the extra time spent with partners. While those of us who are still single have had a more difficult time dating during the pandemic, like most of these conclusions, there is hope that as we ease out of the pandemic, the dating scene will become easier.”

METHODOLOGY

This survey was conducted with n=2,100 from January 18th to 20th, 2022. The margin of error for a comparable probability-based random sample of the same size is +/- 2.14%, 19 times out of 20.

The survey was conducted using a random sample of panelists invited to complete the survey from a set of partner panels based on the Lucid exchange platform. These partners are double opt-in survey panels, blended to manage out potential skews in the data from a single source.

The data was weighted according to census data to ensure that the sample matched Canada’s population according to age, gender, educational attainment, and region.

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