Dating Gets Complicated In The Time of Coronavirus: ‘Things Were Going Alright Until I Sneezed’
The thing about social distancing in our lives under the coronavirus pandemic is it runs counter to a timeless human enterprise: dating.
Some states and cities have shut down restaurants and bars, pretty much halting dates and nights out. But dating apps are as busy as ever.
A representative from dating service Coffee Meets Bagel shared results from a March 17 survey with Mediaite, which showed 78% of U.S. users “are putting a pause on in-person dates,” with 39% planning to text their matches more, 29% planning to call more, and 28% planning to video call more.
The survey also showed that 7% of U.S. users are mentioning “coronavirus” each day and “81% of US singles are practicing social distancing and 19% are self-quarantining.”
One U.S. single, however, decided to defy social distancing for one wild night in California, resulting in an account of dating during a global pandemic well-suited for a time capsule.
“In California, we’re practicing a shelter in place so I’m already being a total idiot for trying to go out,” Caroline Moley, the co-founder of Botticelli Ceramics, told Mediaite.
“When we get there [he] and I see each other… everyone gets drinks and [we] start talking… so we go back to his place,” Moley explained, and “when he wakes up and looks at his phone, he gets a text that someone he works with has the coronavirus.”
“And guess what? He had it too! But I got tested and I’m all good.”
Comedian Nicole Byer didn’t have much luck on Tinder, revealing on Twitter that a user unmatched with her once they learned she had been traveling:
I was talking to a man on tinder and I told him I was traveling and he said “with this corona virus!?” Then unmatched me
Dating is maybe the most fun thing I’ve ever done.
— nicole byer (@nicolebyer) March 5, 2020
Another single told Mediaite he tried to practice social distancing while on a date, but it didn’t go well.
“The only place we could meet was Central Park,” he said. “She backed up whenever I got closer than 6 feet so it was really hard to hear her.”
“Things were going alright until I sneezed… I apologized but she was not entertained when I made a joke about it. Shortly after describing how rude it was to not take this seriously, she said, ‘This was a mistake, I’m sorry I can’t be here.’”
“She actually walked off.”
Robyn Exton, CEO of dating and social app HER, which is marketed towards lesbian, bisexual, and queer womxn, told Mediaite usage has grown since the coronavirus outbreak.
“We’ve seen a pretty heavy spike in usage — particularly over the weekend. I think the growth in communities reflects people looking for more social interaction and more connection with others — beyond just dating,” she said, adding that they had the most Likes of 2020 on Sunday.
“Overall Likes were up 16% over the weekend,” she said. “We saw a 15% increase in successful conversations over the weekend.”
“So overall yes, growth in usage but also growth in intention, people being more intentional with conversation and really looking to connect with others.”
That’s the case for one Hinge user, who told Mediaite he is growing closer to a woman during the crisis because they have more time to talk to each other. “I’m talking to her more than I’ve spoken to any other girl. I’ve texted her more than my friends. The urgency is just completely removed so we’re taking the time to actually get to know each other. We’ve been sending selfies and we’re planning to Zoom!”
Others have been opting for virtual dates.
“Went on a virtual Hinge first date, played monopoly through an app and Facetimed,” one dater said. “Honestly, worked out pretty well, considering.”
Bumble told Mediaite the app can provide a great outlet for those who may be concerned with meeting people in person, with ways to stay connected to real people without having to meet in the physical world.
Bumble has “seen users begin to mention COVID-19 and Coronavirus more and more in their profiles,” but “usage has remained steady,” a representative said.
For its part, Tinder is encouraging users to stay safe during the Covid-19 outbreak with an in-app card that reads, “Tinder is a great place to meet new people. While we want you to continue to have fun, protecting yourself from the Coronavirus is more important.”
The card also links users to the World Health Organization site and includes safety tips such as “wash your hands frequently” and “maintain social distance in public gatherings.”
One thing is for sure, while the thrill of a fun night and the eternal pursuit of love will not be put on hold for the pandemic, what dates look like has changed for the foreseeable future.
“I did meet up with her in person, but she brought hand sanitizer,” one dater told Mediaite.
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