Is dating dead? You might have a better shot at love now than before the pandemic.
Love Lockdown: How to Date During the COVID-19 Pandemic.
When bars and restaurants everywhere started closing their doors this March, the singles crowd was left high and dry wondering: with happy hour canceled indefinitely, where am I supposed to meet new people? Singles everywhere found themselves isolated and alone, with plenty of apps at their fingertips, but nowhere to meet their matches. Could dating through text messages, phone calls and video chats ever replace the experience of flirting IRL?
Dating apps saw a huge uptick in usage, but finding those love connections online-only solves part of the problem. We’re all about data here, so we took a look at the numbers from different platforms on Business Insider: messaging on Hinge increased 30%, and Tinder saw its biggest day ever on March 29, with over 3 billion swipes. Tinder messages got 30% longer over quarantine on, and on OKCupid, virtual dates have gone up 700%. Clearly online dating is having a “moment,” but what does that really mean for individual users looking for love—or something else?
If you’re looking for casual hookups, unfortunately, it might be some time before it’s safe to do so without taking extreme precautions. See the New York Board of Health guidelines on having sex in a pandemic that went “viral” pretty quickly themselves: “You are your safest sex partner.” Bumble also enlisted an epidemiologist to give a rundown on health and safety. But if it’s a deeper connection you’re looking for, you might have a better shot now than before the pandemic started—as long as you can stay open-minded about what those first interactions will look like.
Check out our best tips for digital dating:
1. Take some time to think about what you want
Just like everything else right now, dating during a pandemic will have to be more intentional and require a little more patience. As well as being selective of the people you want to meet. The first thing to figure out is how you want to deal with the topic of coronavirus when it inevitably comes up. It’s basically the new “how ‘bout this weather?” and it will get old fast, but it’s also a critical moment to weed out any “badasses” raring to “break the rules” and put you and others in danger. Have a sense of humor about it, but don’t be afraid to end a conversation if your match starts talking crazy.
If you do hit it off, realize that spending more time with this person could go one of two ways: engaging in a long-distance-style relationship with very little physical closeness or making the leap to join each other’s “quarantine bubble.” Are you just looking for someone to pass the time with from afar? What risks are you willing to take, and what would make you comfortable in an in-person encounter?
2. See what’s new in the online dating world
If you haven’t checked out your options lately, you’ll be surprised at the options you have for finding those first matches. You can go video speed-dating through The League’s League Live feature to vibe-check your chemistry with a potential match and Blindlee, a similar three-minute video call with a catch: the video is blurred. This minimizes chances of seeing things you can’t un-see (remember Chatroulette?) and facilitates a less-superficial connection. Use Wingman to get set up by your friends and Tinder Passport to match with users in other locations.
3. Go easy on yourself
Making a knockout first impression is going to be nearly impossible for everyone, so focus on being yourself and creating an experience you will enjoy. If you’re going to spend a lot of time on video calls, get a stand for your phone or tablet so you don’t have to build one out of random objects every time. Set the mood by putting on a nice outfit or finding the most picturesque corner of your home, but don’t make yourself uncomfortable.
4. Get strategic but don’t rush it
Freshen up your profile to reflect who you are and what you want right now. If you were more comfortable with texting for a while to get to know someone pre-pandemic, recognize that time feels different when you’re stuck between the same four walls. It might make more sense to break out of the texting phase early and arrange a call or video chat right away. Cutting down on the time it takes to find someone you like means more time to really enjoy the mystery in-between “dates.”
5. Have fun, responsibly
If you do decide you want to meet up with someone, ask what your match’s quarantine situation has been like and establish trust first. Confirm in-person dates with a friendly text beforehand asking how your match is feeling. It’s a sweet gesture, and it might save you from getting sick.
To really impress your date, find a way to share a sensory experience together: have the same meal or bottle of wine delivered to both of you. Plan an outdoor picnic date at a park or any open air space where you can get to know each other. Or if you’re more the Netflix Party and chill type, watch an old favorite and follow it up with a long conversation instead of taking a chance on something that’s new to both of you.
6. Look at the bright side
Remember that this is only temporary, and happy hours will return again! It might take some time to figure out what works best for you, but this is also an opportunity to learn some new tricks that might come in handy when “normal” dating returns.
And the best news? Statistically speaking, there are a lot more fish in the sea right now. A lot of new relationships that had formed just before the pandemic broke out in March were majorly disrupted. So pour yourself a glass of wine—if nothing else, dating during COVID is sure to be interesting.
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