Is It The Right Time To Swipe Right?

The late Gabriel García Márquez’s classic novel “Love in the Time of Cholera” depicts love as an infectious disease, exhibiting itself in both physical and emotional suffering. It’s hard enough to date in a perfect world, let alone one filled with the novel coronavirus. Finding love in the time of COVID-19 is similar. Yes, the pandemic has altered how we all live life, but the hunt for love remains constant.

The dating landscape has taken a hit amid the outbreak. Social distancing measures have made dinner dates and cocktail meetups impossible. Video dating has become the go-to alternative. Using dating apps like Match, OkCupid, Tinder, and Hinge are surging as people seek meaningful connections.

Some companies adapt their business models to help users adhere to social distancing rules to cater to the new dating rules while under quarantine. A dating app like Bumble has a new feature, “Virtual Date Badge.” This allows users to add a badge to their profiles indicating they’re open to virtual dating and filter out users who are not. The app has seen an 84% increase in users using voice call and video chat tools. Dating service OkCupid reported an increase in users overall talking about coronavirus since the beginning of the pandemic.

Building a connection

Despite ‘social distancing’ being the most widely used phrase right now, it cannot stop one’s pursuit of love. “If we weren’t in lockdown and someone asked me to do a virtual Tinder date, I would think that’s odd,” said 32-year-old San Diego resident Debbie Jenkins. But now, “I feel like it’s perfectly normal.” Coffee Meets Bagel is another popular app that has begun hosting virtual meetups for 10 to 15 members at a time—consisting of a video call moderated by a company representative. There’s a long-term payoff to this current lockdown situation: It’s extending the “getting to know you” process. Because everybody is stuck at home, people have more time to make meaningful connections. There are fewer distractions, so matches can get to know each other. And when the time finally comes to meet offline, their bond may be that much more profound and stronger because of it.

Virtual dates aren’t for everyone

It’s not all been easy to capture the spark of in-person meetings. The fact is that 55% of communication is body language, 38% is the tone of voice, and 7% is the actual words spoken. The idea of hosting a near-stranger in their home is uncomfortable— even if it’s virtual. “I don’t want the person to see my roommates or even my room. It is awkward,” says Allen Pete, a 27-year-old marketing consultant. “Virtual dates also lack the physical gestures of a real date, for example holding hands or a goodnight kiss.”

When the pandemic is over

But even as virtual chat picks up and engagement numbers rise, there is skepticism about how long one can keep up a virtual relationship. Predicting what dating will be like after we’ve overcome COVID-19 is like expecting what the rest of the world will be like: impossible to know for sure. What’s for sure, though, is that our lives will change forever.

The pandemic also potentially provides a little more time for daters to improve their profiles and refine their online communication skills. And to perhaps spend time reflecting on what they are looking for in a partner when the time finally comes to get up close and personal.

May you find love and be loved.

Written By: Tanya Sawhney

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