We asked Jonathan Kirkland of the BLK dating app what Black singles are looking for when they're looking for love By Angela Johnson at The Root
We can look at the recent midterm election results to see that issues like inflation and homeownership impact the way Black people vote. But you may be surprised to learn that many of those same issues also affect the way we date.
When it comes to dating, Jonathan Kirkland, head of marketing and brand for Match Group’s BLK dating app, is on top of the trends. We asked him about some of the most surprising things he saw among users in 2022 and got his top five predictions for the state of dating in 2023.
According to Kirkland, younger daters are owning their power and writing their unique love stories – unapologetically. “Historically within Black culture, anything that was heterosexual non-conforming was considered taboo and wrong - primarily driven by things taught in the church,” he said. “As younger generations move away from organized religion to other forms of spirituality, we’re seeing more acceptance and flexibility about the spectrums of gender and sexual identity - in others and themselves.”
Your Politics are Important
Kirkland says politics is top of mind for BLK users. In fact, over 2,800 of them signed up to be poll workers during the midterms – more than double the number of signups from the 2020 election. He adds that users listed homeownership, closing the wealth gap, and gun control as their top three policy issues. And he predicts that those things will be top of mind in 2023 as BLK users continue to look for love online.
“We’re seeing young Black voters becoming more politically engaged and politics starting to play a bigger role in considering romantic partners, especially with the election of young leaders like Maxwell Frost, the first Gen Z member of Congress,” he said.
It’s OK to Get High
As more states legalize recreational marijuana use, daters are growing more comfortable with letting potential partners know that they do inhale. In 2022, BLK released profile stickers that allowed users to identify based on various interests, such as “HBCU grad” or “Black Business Owner.” Kirkland says the most popular profile sticker among users in 2022 was “420 Friendly,” an indication that daters are becoming more liberal with their views on cannabis.
There’s Nothing Wrong With Being Natural
When it comes to Black beauty practices, debates around natural hair and how much makeup is too much will always topics of conversation. But Kirkland believes 2023 will see more women embracing their natural beauty and showcasing it on their dating app profile photos. “Locs” and “Natural Hair” were the 3rd and 5th most used profile stickers in 2022, respectively.
Do You, Boo
Sexual fluidity is another growing trend among GenZ singles, with an increasing number of singles identifying as “pansexual.” Kirkland cited Match Group’s recent “Singles in America” survey, in which 41 percent of GenZ respondents said they would be open to dating someone who is transgender. He believes traditional rigid definitions of sexuality will go out the window in 2023, and the younger generations will begin to embrace a more open-minded approach to dating and sex.
Let’s Get This Money Together
“Black Business Owner” was another commonly used sticker on BLK profiles. And in 2023, Kirkland predicts a rise in what he calls, “entre-dating” – dating someone with similar business interests and entrepreneurial passions, with hopes of going into business together.
When asked for his best advice on dating in 2023, Kirkland says start with yourself. “Things haven’t been the same since 2019. Let’s make 2023 your year. Yeah, we’ve heard that before, but this time let’s really do it!” he said. “Showing up with your best self in every situation will attract people to you.”