Gen Z Want to Date Friends, Not Strangers

In the past, many singles found a partner who was, at first, a complete stranger. That trend is changing for young singles today, who often find themselves dating someone who started off as a friend, research shows.

A column from Insider shares that a US survey that found 46% of married couples in America did not know their partner before they started seeing each other romantically. Daniel Cox, Director of the Survey Center on American Life, explained that this is no longer the case.

Young singles today are finding romance in friend groups, with 43% of people between 18 and 29 saying they are in a relationship with someone who started as a friend. Of this group, 50% of women said this was the case for them.

These statistics vary significantly from older generations, who as Cox explains, were able to ‘create a relationship out of thin air’. This represents a shift in dating culture, and disputes the concept of the ‘friendzone’ .

Cox lays out three reasons why this shift in dating culture may have come about. He first identifies that while dating apps allow for singles to meet many people, they have their downsides. For example, other users’ intentions are unclear, and more game-playing is involved.

In comparison, he explains that friendships already have an existing care and connection, which can then be developed further into a romantic relationship.

Second, he highlights trust has already been established in a friendship, providing confidence for Gen Z which he calls “uniquely mistrusting” in their day-to-day life. Existing friendships also don’t bring issues of catfishing, for example, that can impact dating online.

Thirdly, Cox shares that dating among friends and mutual friends makes people feel safer. With many women facing harmful behaviour in online dating, they may feel comfortable dating mutual friends where there is greater accountability in an existing social circle.

Of course, he does admit that dating a friend has its issues. Friendships can be ruined, and feelings can be hurt, when things turn romantic. But that doesn’t seem to be stopping Gen Z adopting this method of meeting a partner. 

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