Adjustments in courting rituals since 2000

From blind dating to speed dating to social distance dating. Deirdre Reynolds records the changes over the past two decades

Two brides 20 years apart, a common dream of a happy life.

When Feelgood first hit shelves in 2000, wedding planner Linda Scott was busy adding the finishing touches to her big day.

Two decades later, when the mother of two and husband Derek was 20 years old.

Although a generation and several counties are apart, the two strangers share an odyssey shared by millions of people around the world: the search for lasting love. From blind dating to speed dating to social distance dating, it’s a seemingly impossible endeavor at times that has taken up more than one or two of these sites over the years.


Jennifer Haskins

But while dating trends can come and go, some things will never change for Cupid, according to professional matchmaker Jennifer Haskins.

“People will always need a platform to get to know someone,” says the director of the introduction agency Two’s Company. “Whether this platform is internet dating, a dating agency, Tinder or many clubs or bars.

I don’t think the qualities people expect in a partner have changed. Everyone is looking for someone who is solvent, someone who cares, someone who is articulate, someone who is emotionally stable – not someone who has just come out of a relationship.

“For women, meanness is a big negative. Many women will say to me, “I want a generous guy”, not necessarily financially, [but] emotionally generous, generous with his time.

“For men, it’s all about chemistry – it always has been, it always will be.”

Linda Scott with husband Derek on their wedding day.Linda Scott with husband Derek on their wedding day.

It’s only been 20 years since Monaghan-born Linda married her teenage sweetheart to her 18-year-old daughter and 14-year-old son after a five-year commercial that started at work but in a world ahead of Whatsapp and FaceTime can also be 200, she jokes.

“Believe it or not, we’ve been together since I was 16,” says the 41-year-old who works at The Four Seasons Hotel in Carlingford.

I started working as a waitress in a hotel in Monaghan and he had just qualified as a chef. We became friends and it just grew from there.

“When we started going out there weren’t any cell phones – you wrote letters and called each other’s home phones. It was very, very different.

“Our daughter laughs when we talk about it [it now]; She would write WhatsApp and things like that – I thought, ‘There was no such thing in our time.’ “


But the biggest “leap” in the evolution of dating since the turn of the millennium came in early 2012 with the introduction of Tinder on smartphones everywhere, making dating, or often just pairing, as easy as swiping left or right.

In 2015, in a viral article by Nancy Jo Sales, Vanity Fair even made the app, which today has an estimated 50 million users worldwide, responsible for the death of romance and the “dating apocalypse”.

For social worker Ciara, who downloaded the location-based app after moving from Dublin to Wicklow three years ago, it was less about hooking up and more about settling in.

The bride-to-be Ciara Kenny with her fiancé JonathanThe bride-to-be Ciara Kenny with her fiancé Jonathan

The 29-year-old is now preparing to say “yes” to the very first guy she met after swiping right.

“I didn’t know anyone, so I said, ‘Maybe I’ll go to Tinder – everyone else will be there,'” she says.

“The guys I chatted with said, ‘When can I see you?’, ‘Can you add me on Snapchat?’, Can you, can you? But me and Jonathan [exchanged] really long messages in the app before I gave him my number.

We talked for six or eight weeks before going out.

“I wanted someone who was a bit old-fashioned,” says Ciara, who, like Linda, will walk down the aisle on the couple’s fifth anniversary in August 2022.

“Someone who was ambitious and hardworking and knew what he wanted. Since he was a father, he had a little more cops than other boys.

“There was no mess. I just think if you know you know My twin sister Orla is getting married next year and she also met her fiancé online at Plenty of Fish. “

Dating FADS

Pheromone dating, in which singles sniff out a lover by smell, DNA dating in which couples are genetically matched by scientists, and eye-gas dating in which participants stare into each other’s eyes are just a few of the fads after the noughties of other singletons in search of their own fairytale ending.

In the post-Covid age of zoom dating, however, the “old normal” is likely to become the “new normal” when it comes to romance, predicts matchmaker Jennifer Haskins, who founded Two’s Company during the last economic crisis in 2008.

“People thought I was crazy to start a business after a crash,” says the businesswoman, whose concept sits somewhere between the personals site and the matchmaking app Bumble on the dating timeline. “But the recession put a lot of emphasis on the simple things in life.

“During the Celtic Tiger, people were out and about all the time to socialize – suddenly the focus shifted to staying at home and being with a partner. A walk was free, while until then it was all about fancy restaurants, and it is no different now.

Right now I’m inundated with people making inquiries and I’m telling them what I did three months ago when this all started when it was okay to go for a walk – just go out to meet up Walk on foot and maintain social distancing.

As an executive dating coach, Iain Myles has seen his share of bizarre dating trends, but after nearly a decade of “ghosting,” “breadcrumbing,” and most recently, “being overwhelmed,” he believes today’s search for love in lockdown is turning out to be that could prove most defining of all. “After Covid-19, I see a greater need for stability as opposed to short-term affairs,” says the trainer from, who specializes in teaching men how to deal with women.

“I believe dates will appreciate the value of relationships more after the lack of social contact, loneliness, and despair during the lockdown.

“I envision a return to very old-fashioned dating as the habit of meeting in parks as opposed to indoor locations goes on indefinitely. I wouldn’t be surprised if crazy picnic dates as well as meeting potential partners in parks were a trend of the future.

“Anyway, I always tell my clients to put a little more thought and effort into the advertising process,” says Iain.

“Worrying about your messages or deciding where to go on a first date doesn’t cost anything, so there shouldn’t be any excuses.

“It also helps you stand out from the crowd, which never goes out of style when it comes to dating.”

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