Taylor Swift, Travis Kelce embrace ‘open casting’ dating trend

Not much has gripped the collective consciousness in the last fortnight quite like the convergence of two of America’s highest earners: Taylor Swift and the NFL, Kansas City Chiefs star Travis Kelce as its conduit.

Photos of the singer in the player’s suite with Kelce’s mother at his game against the Chicago Bears last Sunday sent the world into a meltdown of epic proportions.

Deeply unserious hijinks ensued. Sales of Kelce’s jersey rocketed by 400 per cent. The condiment Swift was pictured eating her fried chicken with – “ketchup and seemingly ranch” – prompted claims from Heinz it would release a hybrid sauce and the Empire State Building to light up in its honour.

But, given Swift’s affinity for what one Twitter user called “years of British twinks”, this new pairing has left some scratching their heads.

As Monica Hesse put it in a column last Thursday for The Washington Post, Kelce “seems like a nice young man”.

“What he does not seem like, however, is a person who exists in the same stratosphere as Taylor Swift,” she continued.

“He is the Kansas City Chiefs tight end who still plays second fiddle to teammate Patrick Mahomes in television commercials for State Farm insurance. She is one of the most famous women on the planet.”

Recent data from dating platform Bumble, however, shows that Swift, with her genre-bending rumoured romance, may be onto something – embracing what’s known as “open casting”, i.e. dating outside your usual “type”.

“Whereas typecasting is all about being associated with a specific role, open casting is all about casting a wider net when dating to focus more on emotional maturity and positive connections, rather than just physical requirements or specific interests,” Bumble’s APAC Communications Director, Lucille McCart, told news.com.au.

The pandemic, she said, “gave us the chance to reflect on what we value in a romantic partner, what kind of relationship we want to have, and what is really important to us”.

One in three (38 per cent) of the app’s Australian users are now more open to straying from who they typically go for in their search for love, Bumble’s Dating Trends 2023 Report found. It also revealed that 35 per cent of Aussie singles are placing less emphasis on dating people who others “expect” them to.

“Dating can be an overwhelming experience, so it makes sense that having a ‘type’ can make the process feel easier to navigate – but there is a strong case to be made for broadening your horizons as well,” Ms McCart said.

“You might be so focused on looking for people who fit your ‘type’ that you fail to observe the parts of their lifestyle or personality that don’t fit what you’re looking for, which means they may not actually be compatible with you long term.

“You also risk missing out on some of the best parts of dating, like meeting new, interesting people who have different interests and views to you.”

Try as we might not to, judging a book by its cover comes into play as well, she added.

“If you are very focused on physical attraction or certain aesthetic qualities, you may miss out on the chance to meet really awesome people who could be a great match for you,” Ms McCart said.

“Height is a big one of this. There are lots of women who want to set their height filter to six feet or above, but who is to say the love of your life couldn’t be 5’10?”

Asked whether pursuing the same type of person can lead to the same type of relationship – and its subsequent pitfalls – Ms McCart said this is “absolutely” the case. Bumble’s research found that 28 per cent of singles who “stick to dating within their type admit that it doesn’t work well, as they always run into the same problems”.

“They say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result,” Ms McCart said.

“For people who feel like they are running into the same problems or issues by dating the same ‘type’, maybe now is the time to take a step back and consider what types of people you think you are truly compatible with.

“What do you actually value, what are your non-negotiables, and what are you willing to compromise on?

“Answering these questions will help you navigate the dating landscape with much more clarity and intention.”

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