Written by Meg Walters

Imagine the perfect first date. Are you sitting at a bar in a perfect little black dress demurely sipping a martini while looking like a femme fatale? Or are you laughing a little too loudly over a pint, your hair out of place and your bra strap showing? According to new research, more and more of us are interested in option number two. Could this be the summer of feral dating?

For the past few years, it’s been all about Hot Girl Summer. Everyone seemed to be flocking to the parks in pretty maxi dresses and spending their evenings journaling about clean eating and hydration. Summer became a time to look and feel your best – and always embracing your hotness.

This year, however, many young women aren’t too excited about the prospect of another Hot Girl Summer. Instead, there’s a new trend in town: Feral Girl Summer. The general idea is that it’s time we all rejected the perfectionism of being ‘hot girls’ and instead embraced some chaos, mess and fun by becoming just a little ‘feral’.

“I can just feel it. It is here. It is time for Feral Girl Summer,” says one TikToker. And she seems to be onto something; the #FeralGirlSummer hashtag already has over 4 million views on the platform. Even Rebel Wilson is embracing the trend.

And according to new research from Badoo, Feral Girl Summer won’t just affect how we spend our time this summer – it will also affect our dating lives. Apparently, this will be the summer of ‘feral dating’.

What is feral Dating – and why is it so popular? 

Feral dating is the natural extension of Feral Girl Summer. As Badoo puts it, it’s “all about ditching perfection in favour of having a fun, pressure-free dating life, and most importantly, not caring about what you look like or what anyone thinks of you.” In other words, it’s about really being yourself on your dates – flaws and all.

Badoo spoke with 1,000 singletons to find out how Hot Girl Summer had influenced their dating lives; 87% claimed to feel pressured by Hot Girl Summer while 71% said that this pressure was impacting their dating lives.

Many women claimed that the constant pressure to embrace being a ‘hot girl’ in the summer made dating feel more intimidating than ever. Some felt the need to look and be perfect, for instance, while others felt pressured to exercise more. And while Hot Girl Summer was initially meant to improve our self-esteem, many women have found that it has made their confidence worse than ever.

Feral Dating offers an antidote to Hot Girl Summer. It gives women a chance to let loose and get a little messy.

Can being a little more feral in your dating life really help you find love? 

Feral dating offers an antidote to Hot Girl Summer. It gives women a chance to let loose and get a little messy – without feeling gross or unworthy.

In fact, 63% of single women are keen to try feral dating because it means they can be themselves. Plus, it seems that people are ready to embrace their partners being a little more feral – over 30% of people claimed that things like drunk texting and infrequent exercise wouldn’t necessarily put them off a potential partner. 

How to embrace the feral dating trend 

While Feral Girl Summer tends to promote getting a little messy in the club, feral dating doesn’t just mean getting drunk and chaotic on your dates. According to Love Coach Persia Lawson, there are numerous ways to embrace feral dating in a more healthy way.

Be Yourself

“Forget about putting your best foot forwards on dates,” suggests Lawson. “Just be who you really are from the first point of contact. Imperfect authenticity is so much more attractive than a perfect façade.”

Encourage your date to be themselves

You can also help your date embrace the trend so that you’re on the same page. By showing up as you really are in romance, you automatically give your date permission to be who they really are, too,” she says. “However, you can encourage them further by asking feral-style questions on dates, such as: ‘What’s your worst habit?’”

Date how you want

Try to follow your gut instinct when dating rather than trying to follow a dating blueprint. “Forget all the traditional dating rules, feral dating is about deciding what works for you,” Lawson says.

Forget the timeline

“Lots of people have had to deal with the social and familial pressure to be in a relationship for too long, and it’s high time we did away with this pressure,” says Lawson. “Feral dating means you get to drown out any external noise around hitting romantic milestones.”

While it may not sound particularly appealing, feral dating may just be the trend we need. After a few years of being told that summer is all about being hot, maybe it’s high time we embraced our feral side – even on our dates.

Images: Getty

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