Already the whole wide world has enough challenges for the singles, and now with the novel coronavirus, the pandemic has caused a malady by infecting more than 1 million people globally. Times are tough ahead for the Millenials!
While everyone is trapped under indefinite work-from-home policies and banned from bars, those who are single or living alone are shifting to dating apps — swiping, texting, flirting — more than ever before.
Do follow our special coverage on coronavirus over here.
Spike in online dating!
“We’re actually seeing our highest numbers yet. Overall, activity is up by around 25% compared to ‘Dating Sunday,’ which is usually the busiest day for dating apps. However, as daters put off meeting in real life until it’s safe, we’re seeing an increase in people suggesting to call, Skype or Zoom their matches – around a 50% rise,” says David Vermeulen, founder of Dutch elite dating app, The Inner Circle.
Known as the Tinder for “elites” — The Inner Circle is an Amsterdam-based startup with users mainly in large cities like London, Berlin, New York, Los Angeles, Hong Kong, Singapore and Sydney. Primarily, the company focuses on people around 25 to 45 years of age, who are a bit more serious about dating and finding somebody.
Another dating app confirms a similar spike, Glenn Keller & Sacha Nasan, co-founders of London-based Blindlee, say, “The coronavirus outbreak and social distancing has increased activity across dating apps. Not just for us but for other dating apps too. Blindlee comes in the form of video dating (3-minute blurred video calls before a match happens) and with everyone sitting at home, video dating is becoming much more popular in times when meeting physically becomes harder.”
Launched in 2019, by two young entrepreneurs, Blindlee is kind of like the Tinder version of Zoom. It connects singles on a 3-minute blurred video call before a match happens. During these extraordinary times, they see increased activity as people are using this fun ice-breaking video as a pre-date before deciding to match and meet someone in person. Blindlee points out that some users are even using the app to find moral support/solidarity during times of quarantine.
Self-isolation = Virtual real-life events for dating apps
When asked David Vermeulen, how is social distancing changing the way people date? He says, “Firstly there’s an obvious change, as people are no longer dating in real life and instead they’re more comfortable with first dates being on a video call. But what we’re also seeing – through anecdotes from single people and memes circulating the internet – is that people are making more effort and looking for more of a connection. By taking away the possibility of immediate human contact, it seems people are starting to think differently about dating and how they treat other people. This period may see a lot of the bad behaviour in dating abolished.”
Meanwhile, different dating sites are taking various measures to keep their users entertained. Renowned dating app Tinder is now offering singles in isolation free access to its ‘Passport’ feature so they can connect with anyone, anywhere in the world.
The feature allows members to search by city or drop a pin on the map and you can begin swiping, liking, matching and chatting with singles in a destination of your choice from now until April 30.
David Vermeulen from The Inner Circle says, “In response to this consumer behaviour shift, we’re moving from offering real-life events to looking at ways where we can host virtual events and experiences for our members, so they are still able to connect with their matches and meet new people.”
On similar lines, another dating app, Hinge is encouraging its users to date from home by making announcements in-app, as well as encouraging people to use their chat and video functionalities to continue exploring potential relationships.
Hinge spokesperson says, “At Hinge, the health and safety of our community is a top priority. With 70% of Hinge users expressing interest in going on digital dates, we’re encouraging our community to “date from home” using phone calls and video chats to build connections. Hinge’s mission will always be to get people off the app and onto great dates, whether that’s in-person or digitally for the time being.”
“We’ve updated our Help Center with information from the World Health Organization on best practices and guidelines. We will continue listening closely to our community’s needs to ensure they feel supported during these unprecedented times.”
Based out of New York, Justin McLeod founded Hinge in February 2011 with a mission to create real-life connections. The company positions itself as a dating platform which is all about cultivating relationships rather than mindless flipping and claims to be one of the fastest-growing dating apps in the Netherlands.
Glen Keller & Sacha Nasan from Blindlee also add to the matter, “In times of self-isolation people suddenly find themselves with more time. While online activity goes up for Netflix, YouTube, Facebook and more, it the same for virtual dating. Around 22% said they were more active on the app because they wanted someone to talk to when being stuck at home.”
No better time to match?
As per company’s latest press release, Tinder received over 3 billion swipes last Sunday – the most ever recorded in its eight-year history. British Tinder users are also having 12 percent more daily conversations on the app, and these conversations are lasting longer than average.
“This is a strange time for online dating. Social distancing measures have increased the time singles have available to swipe and chat as well as their need for social contact, in a time where physical dates are no longer possible or socially acceptable. As a result, we see a shift to video-based dating, says Charlie Wuff, co-founder of Rotterdam-based dating app startup feverr.
She adds, “We at feverr still believe that seeing someone in real life is the best way to meet them because it allows you to read non-verbal cues such as body language, facial expressions, smell and intonation. This makes it easier to get to know someone and tell whether you have a click with them than if you meet them over chat. However, considering the circumstances, video dating could be the next best solution.”
While coronavirus stays, dating must go on..
While some experts think it might be the perfect time to start dating, those running the business of online dating are optimistic about the whole pandemic situation and hope that things will get better shortly.
“Day to day, week to week, things are going to feel different, and daters are going to have ups and downs in terms of how they’re feeling about connecting with other people. The industry needs to listen to that and give them what they need to feel connected. Yes, right now that’s offering virtual dating – whether that’s in the app, or tips and tricks on fun stuff to do with matches on other platforms. Or, as I say, offering fun events and experiences that people can do together. But, we believe magic happens in real life- and hope the current situation changes soon, so we can all meet up again,” concludes David Vermeulen.
Please take your local health guidelines into mind to safely date.
Main image credits: Kristina07/Shutterstock
Stay tuned to Silicon Canals for more European technology news