Our UK-based author tried out how online dating apps work during strict quarantine. Can coronavirus and the pandemic be ice breakers? Are people even closer to each other than they would be under normal circumstances?
All the bars have closed, but a whole new world has opened up for singles. The number of people using dating apps has skyrocketed. Zoom video conferencing system is teeming with virtual dating events. Dating app Bare recently reported a 60 % increase in registrations, while the site Hinge reported that 70 % of users. In the wake of the lockdown, romance seems to be a bizarre thing. This crisis shows how vibrant human contact is, and has obviously led to a certain “carpe-diem ethos” among those who are not in steady hands.
Besides: there is simply nothing else to do in the evening.
Research suggests that the lockdown has birthed new online behaviors: Ones that focus on shared quarantine experiences and concern for the welfare of others. A spokesman for Tinder said: “This epidemic is also changing the basic attitude of the connection in the places most affected. More and more people are using Tinder-Bios to express their concern for others. For example, they ask ‘how are you all doing’ instead of giving their life motto. “
Wash your hands first!
Apps have adapted to the current crisis: Hinge offers restaurant backdrops for virtual dates, Bumble has seen a 31 % increase in video calls. There’s even a new dating app called Quarantine Together that sends out nightly matches to users – but you first have to confirm that you’ve washed your hands. Tinder has shown sensitivity to the pandemic by canceling the worldwide launch of the apocalyptic game “Swipe Night”. This interactive story matches users based on the decisions they make in the wake of an impending asteroid collision. The dating giant decided, however, that Armageddon was not a good topic in the current context.
Out of interest in how Covid-19 has influenced the online dating scene, I registered with OK Cupid, uploaded a full body photo, and wrote a short bio. My expectations were relatively low, but within minutes I received a friendly message from a man named James asking, “How are you doing with the lockdown? A short time later a user named Rob asked me: “Everything ok in this strange time?” The Coronavirus has become a definite ice breaker! Nearly every message I received referred to the curfew in the first sentence or was mentioned in one of the first three messages.
We are united by a common experience – the quarantine. The fight against the coronavirus is a common goal that unites us as individuals and as a nation. We are closer to each other. The curfew gives us direct insight into the lives of others because we know that the person in question is spending the evening at home.
But as soon as the nagging about toilet paper is over, the well-known question of how to continue the conversation arises. Surprisingly, this proved to be easier during the quarantine. The dialogue actually took place in real-time, with the topics fluctuating between interests, vacation preferences, and personal anecdotes. This is completely different from my experience before curfew when my Tinder-DM was a graveyard of abandoned conversations that rarely went beyond a cursory greeting.
The increase in conversations has a lot to do with there being no other distractions. Chatting has become an activity now, whereas before it was a sideline.
Is it possible that the pandemic has a good side? That the slowing down and staying at home brings with it deep emotional connections that then become the foundations for lifelong love? Has Covid-19 managed to re-create advertising via correspondence from Jane Austen’s time with fewer horses and more bathroom selfies?
Encouraged by the success of the app, I decided to give digital dating a chance and attended a virtual dating event. For 5 British Pounds, I was promised access to twelve men at three minutes each – via zoom. It felt pretty stupid to put on mascara and then sit at my desk, but also strangely refreshing to have a reason for it. I didn’t want to spend a little time talking about the curfew, but it was understandable that almost every mini-date started with questions about the current working conditions and living situation. I couldn’t help but speculate whether the guys I spoke to were bottomless. Anyway, after the date, I had matched three of them for “friendship”, so new connections were definitely made.
Seduction with social distancing
Curfew has brought some positive developments in the dating sector, there are also usual evils. Unwanted sexual advances are (unfortunately) nothing new, but the quarantine has taken it to a new level. The curfew has obviously confused the thinking of some men to such an extent that they are no longer able to distinguish between civilians and professional webcam service providers. It is not common for women to spend the lockdown lying around in lingerie, waiting for a stranger’s nudes to bring them into lustful unrestraint.
Personally, I think it’s good to see how long the hair on my legs can get. But I received several requests to send nude photos, invitations to exquisite video calls, and clumsy attempts at seduction. A man named Carlos even suggested that we meet in the park where I could watch him wagging his tail from two meters away. I was slightly touched that despite this desperation he respected the social distancing rule after all.
(How) Can the spark be ignited online?
Obviously, the biggest loss in dating during quarantine is the fact that dates cannot meet in the foreseeable future. This is not only very frustrating but also carries the risk that things in “real life” will look completely different than online. Although a candlelight dinner via Skype or synchronized walks via zoom are a fantastic resource, it is not clear whether the chemistry between two people is really right.
There is no denying that boredom plays a key role in the online dating scene. Some people simply enjoy the short “Rona-Romances” without continuing them after curfew. As an experienced user, I have noticed that some men, who would otherwise not even say hello to me, contact me, which will certainly not last. Unfortunately, I fear that many connections either do not continue or end in the so-called Friend Zone, and the attention span will decrease again after the things reopen.
Anyway, for all the realism, I don’t want to be pessimistic, and I think for some people there is something going on in love during the curfew. The increased attention is given to each other and greater emotional involvement will bring about some happy relationships. The quarantine can be seen as a great opportunity to meet a kindred spirit, as well as working on your fitness or taking an online language course. While it does not end for everyone with rock-hard abs and practical qualifications, it does for some. And in the same way, some will run straight from home into the arms of their new love.