VIRTUALLY DATING

❤ Digital dating in the pandemic age ❤

Navigating the dating world has always been challenging. It has never been easy to find someone to fall in love with.

However, the addition of a global pandemic further complicates dating.

Just as work and education have transitioned online, so has the dating world. In a time when being physically close to someone is dangerous, cinema and restaurant dates are becoming a thing of the past. Video call dates are now the norm.

Lockdown and social distancing measures have imposed severe restrictions to how we meet and date people. YouGov found that a fifth of single people in Britain are spending more time on dating apps, a quarter of whom are aged 18-24. Whereas, due to safety concerns, 55 per cent of 45-54 year olds have put their dating life on hold

Dating by Tinder

In Britain, Tinder is the most popular dating app. Members create a profile with various pictures and basic information – including education, work, hobbies and interests. From this, individuals swipe right if the profile has taken their interest, or swipe left to reject them. If both parties have swiped right they’ve successfully matched and are able to start talking.

Tinder reported the highest number of swipes ever on 19 March 2020. The increased usage of Tinder during lockdown has led to several new features being developed.

“‘i saw you on tinder’ Trastevere 2014” by Ithmus

For example, a global mode has been launched which allows users to show their profiles all across the world. Before, profiles were limited to those who lived nearby. Now, geographical barriers have been removed and users are able to find love and form connections with individuals all across the world.

In addition to this, Tinder has introduced a video chat function for members to connect easier. For Charlie Young, 21, video dates are much more relaxed, they said: “My evening isn’t wasted if a video call date doesn’t go well. Before the pandemic I’d have to get dressed, travel to the location which can be very tiring, and if I don’t get along with the person I feel defeated. Now, if a date goes wrong I can just quickly end the call and go straight to bed.”

However, the physical intimacy of relationships has slowed down. Couples are unable to hold hands or give a kiss goodbye on Zoom or Facetime. For couples that wish to move onto the next stage of seeing each other in person, it requires a great deal of planning and trust. Young said: “People on dating apps now ask you to send a picture of a negative Covid test before agreeing to meet in person. It’s all about being safe and honest with each other.”

Unfortunately, in-person dates also face this challenge, particularly dates that require partners to wear masks and socially distance. Couples now must place safety precautions over physical intimacy, which has ultimately placed a strain on couples.

Kyle Maplesden (23) met his girlfriend on Tinder and they began dating in June. Due to fears of catching the virus, he has only seen his girlfriend in person six times. With Valentine’s Day approaching, Kyle yet again must spend an important day apart from his girlfriend. “It’s obviously a massive struggle not being able to see each other,” he said. “That’s a major part of a relationship. On Valentine’s Day we can’t do a lot. I’ve sorted out a virtual escape room – that’s the only thing I could think of!”

The pandemic has disrupted the world. However, the digital age has aided people to show inventiveness with dates and intimacy. Even in unprecedented times, romance continues to thrive!

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