You should embrace your 'villain era' this summer, according to dating experts—but it's not what you think

Don't worry, the 'villain era' has nothing to do with the likes of Regina George or Miranda Priestly

villain movie characters for villain era dating trend; pictured are the mean girls, harley quinn, cruella de ville and miranda priestley
(Image credit: Maximum Film / PictureLux / The Hollywood Archive / Pictorial Press Ltd /Alamy Stock Photo))

Summertime and the swiping's easy, especially when embracing your "villain era". If you're taking a dip in the dating pool this season, relationship experts practically insist on the mentality. 

But if Regina George vibes aren't sitting well with you, don't stress: we promise this dating trend is totally fetch (unlike the dreaded "posting" trend or those unfulfilling situationships).

"This isn’t about being nasty, rude, demanding, controlling, or mean," assures Laurel House, an eharmony relationship expert. "The villain era is an edgy term to define the trend of expressing unapologetic authenticity. It’s a 'sorry not sorry' attitude that gives daters (and everyone really) permission to be expansively themselves."

Who are we to argue with that?

eharmony logo
Laurel House

Laurel House is an international celebrity dating and relationship coach working with eharmony. She also shares her expertise on E!’s Famously Single and lends a hand as a dating coach for Three Day Rule Matchmaking. Laurel is also a five-time author and has been featured in a variety of publications, including Vogue, Glamour and

What exactly is a 'villain era' in dating? 

Get that image of Maleficent and the Wicked Witch of the West right out of your head. Embracing a "villain era" when dating isn't about being nasty or having a negative attitude—it's about sincerity and vulnerability, albeit with a splash of confidence. 

"It’s about being real, authentic, and honest. The truth is that if you want something real, be real," House says.

According to eharmony's Dating Diaries findings, nearly a quarter of Gen Z singles are preparing to take a more genuine approach to finding a match and plan to give this trend a try. 

Why is Gen Z embracing the 'villain era'?

There are a number of reasons why singles perusing the best dating apps are deciding to enter their villain mode. For one, they're looking to take matters into their own hands, and understandably so.

"Villain daters are no longer discreetly manipulating, nor are they making themselves smaller," House says. "They're tired of being people pleasers who bend over backward then feel unappreciated for the effort. They are no longer interested in being go-with-the-flow chameleons who try to blend in, roll over, and stay in line."

Plus, it's singles' way of putting an end to bad behavior that doesn't take their partner into consideration. According to House, "Daters aren’t ok with being ghosted, unappreciated, unheard, ignored, overlooked, belittled, or even well-behaved."

Anything that puts an end to ghosting—and beyond—is more than welcome in our book.

How should you embrace your 'villain era' this summer?

If this is something that speaks to you, now is the time to be honest about the good and the bad. It's time to show others what makes you, you. In the words of the inimitable Lisa Rinna: "Own it."

"Drop your protective walls that keep you safe while keeping others out, and instead start to show your true colors. Let them know the layers behind your smile. That’s what makes you real," House insists. "If you are raw and honest, not just for the sake of dumping your baggage on the table, you are practicing vulnerability and emphasizing the lessons you learned and how you are better because of it. That in turn shows strength, and that’s attractive!"

While yes, we tend to think of the worst when the term "villain" is thrown into the mix, this new approach is turning those wicked stereotypes on their head. Who's ready to be "bad" in their villain era?

Danielle Valente
Digital News Writer

Need a TV show recommendation? Maybe a few decor tips? Danielle, a digital news writer at Future, has you covered. Her work appears throughout the company’s lifestyle brands, including My Imperfect Life, Real Homes, and woman&home. Mainly, her time is spent at My Imperfect Life, where she’s attuned to the latest entertainment trends and dating advice for Gen Z.

Before her time at Future, Danielle was the editor of Time Out New York Kids, where she got to experience the best of the city from the point of view of its littlest residents. Before that, she was a news editor at Elite Daily. Her work has also appeared in Domino, Chowhound, and amNewYork, to name a few. 

When Danielle’s not writing, you can find her testing out a new recipe, reading a book (suggestions always welcome), or rearranging the furniture in her apartment…again.