Nostalgia Stanning Might Snag You A Beau, According To Tinder

Like them or not, dating apps really do pull back the curtain on what’s driving today's culture. Despite never having used a dating app myself, this is why I find it so fun to glean insights from apps like Tinder, which recently released its “Year in Swipe” review, about what’s hot and what’s not among my peers.

By Andrea Mew4 min read
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So when I saw Tinder reported that “nostalgia stanning was a flex,” I knew I had to take a deeper dive than the surface-level analysis they shared. According to Tinder, a huge dating trend this past year was including interests like “‘90s kid,” “Running Up That Hill,” “Sneakers,” “Anime,” and other ‘90s/naughts inspo in your bio. Their conclusion? People are looking for authenticity and the “good vibes” we used to experience pre-social media and smartphones. Here’s why they’re onto something and how you can incorporate a healthy dose of nostalgia stanning into your day-to-day life, effectively snagging yourself a beau.

We Need a Distraction from Modernity’s Bad Spots

One dollar when most of us were young children, tweens, and teens is today’s $1.73, meaning that a buck only buys a little over half of what a buck used to get you 20 years ago. Yes, American wages have risen, but the increase hasn’t actually kept up with the ever-inflating cost of living. From tuition to rent to home prices, things are getting pricier right around the same time that we’re trying to date, settle down, marry, find secure housing, and hopefully have children without living paycheck to paycheck.

Enter the concept of nostalgia stanning: “stan,” the slang word meaning that you’re a fan of a particular thing, person, or concept, and “nostalgia,” meaning that yesteryear was so much sweeter and you’d like to get back to a time when things were a bit less complicated. People were less politically polarized. Wages had slightly risen, but inflation wasn’t keeping people from being able to afford holiday dinners. Secondhand clothing and fast fashion weren’t the norm. 

Similar to Tinder’s findings, dating website Plenty of Fish released survey data that found at least 67% of users evaluated their potential matches more positively if they had a shared fondness for the aughts. It definitely checks out that a lot of us have got nostalgia-fever when you take a look at fashion trends over this past year! 

Barbiecore was both commercialized and paraded down the red carpet at fashion weeks by top designers like Valentino. Low-rise jeans are having their biggest comeback since the trend fizzled out, whether our tummies like it or not. Classic Y2K looks like Paris Hilton’s velour tracksuits or Hilary Duff’s butterfly clips are now being rocked by international supermodels like Bella Hadid, who was just a baby at the time those trends hit the mainstream.

Tinder referenced “Running Up That Hill,” a Kate Bush song originally released in the mid-1980s that shot back into the spotlight after its use in Stranger Things Season 4 last year. The ‘80s nostalgia from a few years ago is now today’s ‘90s nostalgia where our eyes are glued to the tv screen streaming Euphoria or rocking out to Olivia Rodrigo’s collab with 2000s pop princess Avril Lavigne. 

Three (or more) years of lockdown confusion and widespread rumors of an impending recession have us all retro gazing, not only in our consumer behavior, but in our personal behavior as well. We’re somehow more connected than ever before thanks to advancements in the digital sphere, yet less connected to each other emotionally because we place a higher importance on social media identity than living in the moment and really getting to know one another authentically.

Drawing the Line Between (Wo)Man and Machine

This may not come as a surprise, but technology has a lot of us pretty bummed out. Our brains are scattered by cultural trends that change so fast that we get mental whiplash. Where did the days go when we actually had to take a breather when we were waiting for a show to air or while we were waiting in line instead of filling up “empty” space with non-stop scrolling? We grew up in a unique time where we experienced life without smartphones and widespread interconnectedness, where we bought music on CDs, eventually the iTunes store, or pirated it from Limewire, where we called our friends on the landline after getting home from school to see if they could have an outdoor playdate.

Our escapism is justified by observations that social psychologists have recently made, like MIT’s Sherry Turkle, who warns that technology is causing (hopefully reversible) damage on our ability to have meaningful communication with our friends, family, and strangers alike. The digital stress we’re both self-imposing and being thrust into by a quickly-adapting society has genuinely caused a profound decrease in our ability to be empathetic. We have a global marketplace of ideas at our fingertips, yet we have less authentic connection with our relationships than ever before.

Nostalgia stanning plays a surprisingly critical role in getting us back on track to a more human, less machine way of living that certainly helps those who are looking for love. This isn’t just some Millennial trend, even though the superficial aspects like fashion, makeup, and music might indicate otherwise; this is a seismic shift in mindset for people wishing to return to better times.

The Benefits of Nostalgia Stanning

Trendhunter explained that the Y2K revival in culturally influenced trends is appealing when effectively done because it evokes nostalgia that creates emotional connections. Think about it in terms of consumer goods. Collectibles, re-releases, or new products that have recognizable “retro” references have this certain romantic quality of longing and even homesickness. Appeals to nostalgia motivate each of us to remember who we were and make us really think about who we want to be in the future.

Furthermore, psychologists have found that nostalgia can actually be comforting and stabilizing, especially if you’re going through a period of change. When you’re young and dating, you and your beau are probably going through a lot of major life events. You’re potentially undertaking higher education, taking on new careers, moving from city to city, watching friends get married and have children, and even losing loved ones. By leaning into nostalgic trends, you inadvertently provide comforting emotions to your beau and vice versa. 

“It's a very comforting emotion. It also brings back; it stimulates memories of the times when we were accepted and loved unconditionally. That is such a powerfully comforting phenomenon, knowing that there was a time in life when we didn't have to earn our love, or we didn't deserve it because we earned a certain amount of money or we were successful in a certain venue,” explained Krystine Batcho, Ph.D., professor, and expert on nostalgia.

While there’s certainly nothing wrong with wanting to stay up-to-date on the fresher trends, it would appear that embracing a bit of nostalgia stanning can enhance your dating profile by unintentionally reminding your matches of the good old days. Your match might have also loved the same early 2000s anime shows like you (look, even guys watched magical girl anime like Sailor Moon!), or maybe he’ll catch onto a sly reference to Y2K musicians like Justin Timberlake, Gwen Stefani, Ciara, Usher, Avril Lavigne, or Green Day if you include their lyrics in your bio or posts. The natural conversation starters if you’re nostalgia stanning are endless, for example, “Where were you when you first heard *that* song?”

Plenty of Fish dating expert Kate MacLean actually confirmed the reality of this phenomenon, sharing that you can build instant rapport with a match if you two can connect over shared references.

"Getting the same references makes for a great icebreaker while also creating a new layer of connection and discussion," she explained. "Especially in the early days of dating, finding low-pressure ways to get to know someone is key, and reminiscing over iconic pop-culture moments is a perfect option."

Closing Thoughts

Nostalgia stanning isn’t going anywhere. Reminiscing about the “good old days” is something we naturally do whether we’re dating or not! That said, the comforting feeling that nostalgia can provide a person could make a significant impact in your dating life. So don’t be afraid of sharing your love for Friends or The Gilmore Girls reruns in your dating life because that pleasant sense of nostalgia and comfort might rub off on your match!

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