LONDON (AP) – At the start of the coronavirus pandemic, Jennifer Sherlock dated a few men she met through dating apps. The dates were “weird,” she said, and not just because they were masked, socially distant, and out of place.
Once, a date remained hidden as they walked around, but soon after inviting her back to his house, a move Sherlock considered reckless. “It was so off-putting and embarrassing,” she said. “So we wouldn’t be safe outside without a mask (s), but we would be safe in his house without a mask?” “
She decided she needed a way to filter people out, so she started setting up video chats before agreeing to meet someone in person. Sherlock, 42, a public relations consultant who lives in New Jersey, said it was a practice she would continue after the pandemic.
Tinder reported that 2020 was its busiest year yet; this year, its users have already set two usage records between January and March. Hinge tripled its revenue from 2019 to 2020, and the company expects it to double this year.
In response to changing demands, Tinder last month announced new tools that will help users get to know people online better. People will now be able to add videos to their profile and chat with others before they even correspond with them.
“Historically, consumers have been reluctant to go online by video because they didn’t see the need to,” said Jess Carbino, a sociologist and online dating expert who has worked for Tinder and Bumble. After COVID, however, many people expect a higher level of testing, she said. “Online dating apps like Tinder are looking at this.”
Dating apps say their research shows video chats are here to stay, even as life is starting to return to normal in some parts of the world.
Almost half of Tinder users had a video chat with a match during the pandemic, with 40% planning to continue with them after the pandemic. Tinder says it’s driven largely by Gen Z users in their late teens and early 20s, who now make up more than half of the app’s users. And a majority of Hinge UK users, 69%, also say they will continue with virtual dates after the pandemic.
Tinder, alongside other popular apps like Hinge, OkCupid and Bumble, has partnered in Britain and the United States with the government to add a badge to profiles indicating that users have been vaccinated. (There is no verification process, however, so matches could lie.)
Dating app users are also increasingly looking for deeper connections rather than casual encounters, Carbino said.
This is what happened to Maria del Mar, 29, an aerospace engineer, who never expected to end up in a relationship after being associated with someone on Tinder at the start of the pandemic the year. last.
She started chatting with her now boyfriend via the app in April 2020 during a full lockdown in Spain, where she lives. Returning from Barcelona to her parents’ small town, León, del Mar was bored when she joined the app, but was surprised to find a lot in common with her current partner.
After weeks of chatting, they finally met for a first date – a social distancing hike – after restrictions were eased slightly in May 2020. Now the two have moved in together. “If it hadn’t been for the app, our paths probably wouldn’t have crossed,” she said.
Fernando Rosales, 32, frequently used Grindr, an app popular with gay men looking for more informal dating, during the pre-pandemic times. He took to Tinder for social ties when coronavirus restrictions prevented people from meeting other people in London, where he lives.
“Grindr says to me: ‘I like you, you like me, you are less than 100 meters from me, I will come,” said Rosales, who works for the famous British coffee chain Pret.
“Tinder is something more social,” he added. Sometimes he only uses the app to meet other people to play online video games or video chat.
Ocean, 26, a drag artist and photographer in Berlin, turned to the live video feature of an LGBTQ + app called Taimi to make friends across the world during the pandemic. Having two to five minute video chats with strangers from places like the Philippines or parts of the United States was “amazing,” she said. Ocean’s first name is Kai Sistemich; she identifies as a woman when she is dating.
She said she would continue to use the feature after the pandemic, especially while doing solo activities like cooking or getting ready before going out to party.
Sherlock also expects some of his pandemic dating behaviors to continue in the post-pandemic world. She recently asked two men that she texted for Facetime conversations before meeting in person, which she would not have done before the pandemic.
“It’s a crazy dating world so saving time is necessary,” she said.
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