What is NATO dating & Why Did it Dominate 2023?

December 14, 2023 5:44 pm in by

Tinder has released their annual “Year in Swipe” which reveals the trends, terms, and tunes singles leaned into while splashing around the dating pool. Overall, daters were less concerned about where their relationships were headed and more interested in creating opportunities to have new memorable experiences.

The year was marked by overarching themes of positivity, optimism, and a focus on bettering one’s self through making connections with others. Even the most used emoji (🔛) on Tinder denoted this “always on” attitude among singles. Also, reflecting pop culture and the power of music in bringing people together, the buzzy anthems bopping on Tinder all came from powerful female pop stars, like Taylor Swift, Miley, and Rihanna.

Singles fully embraced “main character energy” in 2023. They ditched the pressure of rushing to a “happily ever after” in Favour of using the dating process to build a roster of new experiences and memories that bolstered their own personal stories. This refreshingly optimistic and lighthearted approach to making new connections took the pressure off establishing relationship labels and outcomes, leaving more room for self-exploration through dating.

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The shift to utilising dating as a source of self-fulfilment gave rise to the top dating trends of the year:

Not Attached To an Outcome (N.A.T.O) Dating

Not Attached To an Outcome (N.A.T.O) dating, as the name suggests, refers to singles who are less concerned about the outcome of a relationship and more interested in enjoying the process of getting to know someone.

Dating “For the Plot”

Dating “For the Plot,” denotes that dating was more about the journey and less about “the end” in 2023. Singles were open to meeting new people to have new experiences and fun stories to tell, rather than taking a traditional goal-oriented approach.

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“It’s so exciting to see the data at Tinder shows that 69% of Gen Z want to challenge conventional dating and relationship norms. This year in particular marked a major shift where the journey is more important than the outcome. This new generation of daters is showing us what it means to date for the possibilities, freeing themselves from traditional expectations, allowing them to write their own, worthwhile stories.”

said Melissa Hobley, Chief Marketing Officer at Tinder.

Here’s a look back at what was hot on Tinder in 2023!


The let’s do it energy ruled

The 🔛emoji was the top trending emoji globally on Tinder this year. Singles used the emoji to let potential matches know they were up for trying cool new things or were even ready to explore a new relationship. They popped 🔛into bios to signal openness and optimism. Examples from bios include “I bring positive energy and try to make the best of every situation🤍🔛”1.

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Not being attached to an outcome was a big YES

Young singles are focusing on the connection and are N.A.T.O (not attached to outcomes). In fact, over a quarter (27%) of 18-25-year-olds using Tinder’s Relationship Type feature say they are “open to exploring”, and 22% using the Relationship Goals feature say they are “still figuring it out”. These statistics were slightly higher for Aussies with almost one in three (30%) “open to exploring” and 37% “still figuring it out”. So taking an open approach allowed them to meet new people without closing themselves off from all the possibilities that come from putting yourself out there.


No bad dates, only good stories!

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Tinder clocked a shift toward a more open-minded approach to dating in 2023. Singles have fully embraced their main character’s energy and are now fully invested in “the plot”….rather than “the end.” Dating for “the plot” is buzzing on Tinder globally, with a 5.5x increase in users using the term in bios like, “Everything I do is for the plot, let’s make some memories.”


Dating’s not delusional if you know you’re delusional

Singles were into taking chances this year and keeping the optimism around potential matches alive. But while leaning into the “delulu” of dating can be fun and playful in a daydreamy sort of way, singles were still self-aware enough to call out red flags – in themselves and each other. In fact, mentions of Delulu started trending in Tinder bios, both globally and locally in Feb 23, and peaked in Sept 23, growing 58x with bio examples such as “If you are delulu, I’m your solulu”, “Tall, dark and delulu”, “Turn my delulu into trululu”.


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The situationship is all grown up & getting organised

Stack dating, multi-dating, alphabet dating – it was all about being mindful, getting organised, and taking the situationship to the next level in 2023. In fact, 51% of surveyed young singles said they were open to new ways of fitting dating around their daily schedules.3 Singles were not here to waste time this year. According to Tinder data, over 50% of young singles, globally and locally, use Tinder’s Love Styles feature say they prefer time together over the other love styles.


The voice of this generation celebrates women

Feminine energy boomed around the world in 2023 and inevitably found its way onto Tinder. Taylor Swift was crowned the top Spotify artist on Tinder, Miley’s revenge bop “Flowers” was the 4th most popular Anthem added to profiles, and Rihanna fans showered her with support with a 52% spike in her songs being added to profiles following her performance at the big game1. In Australia, although Morgan Wallen was crowned the top Spotify artist locally, the fem-ergy was strong with SZA’s very relatable “Kill Bill” was the 2nd most popular Anthem added to profiles, followed closely by PinkPantheress and Ice Spice’s “Boy’s a Liar Pt. 2”. Even when sharing their holiday spirit users turned to no other than Mariah Carey, whose “All I Want For Christmas” sees an average increase of 365% on profiles each holiday season.

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You can see more of the Tinder “Year in Swipe” via the official site.