Welcome to Feral Girl Summer
Editor's note: Some of the sources for this article requested their full names and locations not be used.
If you're on TikTok, Twitter or Instagram, you've probably already heard of Hot Girl Summer. The meme began back in 2019 with rapper Megan Thee Stallion's hit song of the same name. Since then, it has been making yearly appearances to describe a summer of living your best life without shame or self-consciousness.
In 2022, there's a new type of summer making the rounds: Feral Girl Summer. The premise is surprisingly similar: It's all about being yourself and living your best life in the summer. But this time, instead of being associated with putting on your best sundress and drinking eight glasses of water a day, Feral Girl Summer is all about letting yourself party like crazy and be your most chaotic, messy self.
For many young, single people who are embracing Feral Girl Summer, this also means embracing a new, feral approach to dating.
What is 'feral dating'?
Feral dating is all about being yourself on dates, especially if that means getting a bit messy and maybe even a little gross. Want to get a bit too drunk? Eat too much? Let your makeup smudge? With feral dating, you won't have to feel bad about any of it.
According to a new survey by dating app Badoo, Feral Girl Summer is resonating with a lot of young, single women who are tired of the perceived perfectionism associated with Hot Girl Summer. The app found 87 percent of single girls feel pressured by Hot Girl Summer, and 71 percent say this pressure impacts their dating life.
Not only are women anxious to move on from the whole "Hot Girl" thing, they're also excited to embrace being a little more feral. According to claims from the app, 63 percent of single girls are ready to embrace feral dating, and over half (56 percent) of daters feel feral dating would lead to stronger connections.
Young people are embracing feral dating
For some singletons, feral dating is a promising trend that offers freedom and honesty. For others, it's less appealing.
For her part, Laoise, a 25-year-old from the United Kingdom, is excited to try embracing her feral side this summer.
"After two years of being healthy and boring, I am so ready to go absolutely feral," she said. "You will 100 percent find me being my most feral self on my dates this summer. And if guys don't like it, that's fine by me."
will NOT be participating in hot girl summer but WILL be participating in feral beast spring— lydia chlamydia (@lydia_meredith) April 10, 2022
For Laoise, this summer will be all about having fun and letting loose on her dates. Is she looking for long-term partners while feral dating?
"Not necessarily," she said. "I'm more interested in having fun and finally feeling free.
"But if I do meet someone who ends up being, like, the perfect feral buddy and it develops into something deeper, that would also be amazing," she noted.
Bella, a 22-year-old living in Los Angeles, is also planning on taking a Feral Girl Summer approach to her dates this summer.
"Like, why not?! That's my attitude," she said. "Honestly, I feel like Hot Girl Summer is kind of dead. I want to be in the club dancing till 4 a.m.—and I want to meet guys who want to do the same."
For both Laoise and Bella, Feral Girl Summer is the perfect antidote to two years of social distancing and being safe.
"Restrictions are completely lifted here, and I feel like we all just want to really let loose and go a bit wild," Laoise said.
"I did a few Zoom dates and this is like the polar opposite of that," Bella added.
Feral dating isn't for everyone
While feral dating is the perfect trend for people who are eager to unleash this summer, some people simply aren't feeling too feral.
In fact, encouraging everyone to embrace feral dating might be harmful. As Olivia Petter wrote for the Independent, based in London, "The irony is that despite being marketed as the antidote to Hot Girl Summer, it's done exactly the same thing: put pressure on women to be someone that doesn't even exist."
In other words, the "Feral Girl" is more of an idea than a reality. And that's exactly how Jane, a 30-year-old from New York, feels.
"When I heard about Feral Girl Summer and feral dating, I did kind of roll my eyes internally," she confessed. "While I think it's great that people are trying to be more open and honest on dates, I personally don't feel the urge to 'go feral' at all.
"I think it's more helpful to avoid dating trends like this one altogether. That's definitely what I do," she continued.
Feral dating may resonate with you or it may not—and that's OK. If it helps you feel more like yourself, great. But if trying to "go feral" makes you feel like you're putting on an act, don't bother.