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The Rise of ‘NATO’ Dating in 2023

Gen Z's NATO dating

What does NATO daring mean? 

Tinder’s Year in Swipe reveals a significant shift in the dating landscape, with singles prioritizing experiences over predefined outcomes. Gen Z is challenging traditional expectations, embracing a dating trend known as ‘NATO,’ meaning Not Attached To an Outcome. This approach encourages open-ended connections without fixating on specific relationship goals.

Tinder’s CMO, Melissa Hobley, notes a departure from traditional expectations, emphasizing the importance of the dating journey over the outcome. Gen Z, according to Tinder Australia spokesperson Kirsty Dunn, rejects labels and seeks a more modern and diverse approach to dating.

Its the mindset, honey!

NATO dating signifies a mindset where users are not actively seeking anything specific. The emphasis is on getting to know someone, living in the present, and leaving connections open-ended, providing a liberating and freeing experience. Tinder reports that almost one-third of Aussies aged 18 to 25 using the app are “open to exploring,” with 37% still figuring out their relationship preferences. The focus has shifted from conventional milestones like marriage and family to making diverse connections, living in the moment, and exploring various paths.

In addition to NATO dating, another trend identified in 2023 is “dating for the plot.” With the influence of TikTok, users are adopting a mindset of enjoying dating experiences as part of a larger narrative, valuing the story created from these interactions.

While the year marks the end of goal-oriented dating, Dunn emphasizes that traditional relationships, including long-term commitments, remain popular. NATO dating provides a term for relieving societal pressures and timelines, allowing individuals to enjoy the diverse plots of their dating experiences, ranging from brief connections to lifelong commitments.

Gen Z’s perspective on relationships extends beyond traditional definitions, accommodating various forms of commitment, from monogamy to open relationships and situationships. The stigma around casual encounters has diminished, with Gen Z considering them a natural part of the exploration process, devoid of labels and secrecy, signaling a transformative shift in dating norms.

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