Back in the day, dating app bios were a place to parade platitudes as clever witticisms, talk about how much you love dogs, how fluent you are in sarcasm, or to boast your childless bachelor status. These days, however, it would seem another phrase has joined the lexicon of dating app bio banalities, and it’s a bit of a throwback.
Talk of “courtship” is reportedly taking over Tinder, with the popular dating app reporting a significant increase in mentions of the old-school dating term in user bios, according to Mashable. The dating app says use of the word “courtship” in bios is up 81 percent compared to this time last year (when everyone was busy turning a certain impending pandemic into pickup lines). That data comes from younger dating app users between the ages of 18 and 25, suggesting Gen Z is particularly interested in this throwback to the romantic practices of centuries past. But why?
There’s one particularly likely culprit: Bridgerton. The hit Netflix period drama about royal romance in the early 19th century seems to have had quite an influence on sex and dating trends in 2021. The series — and its much talked about sex scenes — has been credited with prompting a spike in four-poster bed sales, and now it seems fans want to bring a little Regency-era romance to dating apps as well.
In some ways, this push for a return to the courtship-style dating of centuries past mirrors the more modern movement of “slow dating,” which has gained popularity in recent years as a more mindful alternative to the rapid, swipe-based dating that dominated the 2010s as dating apps first went mainstream. Today, some online dating platforms even market themselves as “slow dating” apps, designed to help swipe-weary app-daters slow down and make more meaningful connections than those typically associated with app dating.
Of course, while romanticized period dramas may make courting practices of yore seem appealing, traditional courtship has its origins in heteronormative, patriarchal structures which saw women as property to be pawned off from their fathers to their new husbands. Despite all the fear-mongering talk of how app-fueled “hookup culture” is destroying life and love as we know it, the ability to date for fun, rather than to fulfill a marriage-minded social contract, is a privilege of modernity and social progress. Swiping may not always be terribly romantic, but hooking up with a stranger from the internet is probably still a lot more fun than being sold into marriage with a relative stranger who made an agreement with your dad.