Online dating is tricky, but during a pandemic, it’s an entirely different ballgame. The usual thrill of first dates is now replaced with a new value pack of unknowns: Is our destination going to have good social distancing guidelines? Will my date wear their mask? Will they keep their (social) distance?
And the 2020 all-time favorite, what if my date has “you know what?”
If you’re still looking for love during what feels like the end of the world, take a look at some of the biggest trends we’ve seen in online dating during recent months and the best ways to stay safe.
Why online dating?
Despite what some may think, the internet is a pretty popular and effective way to meet people. As of late 2019, 30% of American adults admitted to use of a dating app, and 60% of those reported an overall positive experience. 12% of those experiences resulted in a marriage or relationship, according to the Pew Research Center.
Now that many interactions, including work and school, have moved online, new users are setting up profiles on dating sites and apps to meet new people and fill all their newfound free time.
“It’s an excellent time for singles to date. People have time. They’re not getting dressed up to go to work. And most importantly, they have something to talk about,” Chief Scientific Advisor to Match.com and senior research fellow at the Kinsey Institute, Helen Fisher told PBS.
According to Google Trends, most dating apps saw a boost in user interest during the beginning stages of quarantine in the U.S. (mid-March to late April) and again during the summer months. Now, 53% of adults report that they’ve participated in online dating. Major players include Match, eharmony, Hinge, Bumble and Tinder.
Online dating trends to watch
Tinder reigns supreme
Tinder has experienced the biggest jump in users since COVID-19 splashed onto the dating scene. The dating app has reported 9.1 million users as of mid-2020, an increase from 4.7 million in mid-2019.
Most people that frequent Tinder are looking to meet people, but they aren’t always looking for a long-term relationship. So it’s interesting that daters are flocking to the hookup app as opposed to a platform geared towards relationships like Match or eharmony. It’s also indicative of the kinds of interactions users were looking for during different stages of lockdown.
Back to dating
Life was faster before the pandemic forced singles into their homes, and it was wreaking havoc on the dating scene — sending you a digital hug if you’ve ever been ghosted.
Now, singles are online more than ever, have the free time to get to know suitors and are more hesitant to move from the “talking” stage to the first date. Due to public health concerns, virtual or video dates are a popular step before running the risk of an in-person encounter. 22% of singles have been on a virtual date since lockdown began.
“We’re seeing the emergence of a new phase in the courtship trajectory, which is meet online, talk online, then talk in person,” Fisher says. “Yes, we’re moving forward to the past. We’re getting to know somebody before the sex.”
But virtual interactions can only go so far before it’s time to meet, and that’s when things can get a bit more serious. Singles are being forced to evaluate their relationships at an earlier point than before. If there’s not a real interest, most would rather not run the risk of meeting.
What to do before online dating during COVID-19
Online dating can be pretty sketchy, but when you introduce a contagious respiratory virus into the mix, there are some extra precautions you’ll want to take to keep safe.
- Wear a mask: Even if your date doesn’t come prepared, it’s better for one of you to mask up than neither. If you’re uncomfortable with conversing too closely with your barefaced companion, bring an extra.
- Have the COVID talk: Ask your date how they’ve been handling the pandemic and agree on the safety measures you’ll take for your upcoming meetup.
- Do some research on your destination: Most businesses are putting their COVID safety measures front and center on their websites. Look up your date location before you get there, so you know what kinds of safety measures are in place.
- Take the regular online dating precautions: Even if you’ve spent months talking, it’s still a first date. Let your friends or family know where you’ll be, who you’re going with and what time your date will conclude.
The pandemic has certainly left all of us singles looking to add some social interaction to our lives, but thanks to the internet it’s not hard to meet people in a safe and secure way. Download one of the popular apps we’ve mentioned above and follow our safety measures. Maybe you’ll find “the one,” COVID-free, of course.
Written by:Taylor Gadsden
Writer, Broadband Content
Taylor is a veteran member of the Allconnect content team and has spearheaded a number of projects, including a data piece on the top fiber cities in the U.S. and a troubleshooting guide on how to connect your p… Read more
Edited by:Shannon Ullman
Editor, Broadband Content
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