The desire for human connection and a significant other hasn’t waned during the pandemic but may have increased.
Singles, some for the first time, turned to virtual dating this year when the usual ways of meeting people vanished and the pandemic goes on and on.
Online dating sites report record use as lonely singles look for someone to enrich their lives for a day, a month, or even forever. Dating in the age of COVID-19 is simpler in some ways, yet in addition to the regular fear of rejection, there’s now also the fear of infection.
In March, when we started doing our virtual dates we were unsure of the demand as our whole premise had always been to give people an alternative to online dating. According to Match.com 87% of people wanted to wait to meet in person until the pandemic was over. But by June, many had changed their minds and only 43% wanted to wait.
We found a real demand during the peak of the lockdown as people not only wanted to find love but also have something different to during another night stuck at home. The big question was, what if I meet someone I like? Then what? The obvious next step of arranging to go for a drink or dinner wasn't an option and even when it was people were unsure of meeting strangers even more so than usual.
People started to become creative with their date ideas and a socially distanced walk in the park became the new happy hour cocktails. Interestingly public health experts did not discourage people from dating as long as they did it safely. “Everything we do has a risk/benefit -- it’s totally reasonable to date if the benefits, such as social interaction, outweigh the risks, such as underlying medical conditions. Loneliness can be a big problem too,” says Samantha Evans, Sexual health & pleasure expert Founder of Jo Divine.
Londoner's also became more serious about looking for partners who took precautions against COVID-19, according to an online survey of 1,321 singles in July by YouGov. Many said they wouldn't go on a second date if their potential romantic partner: refuses to wear a mask (57%); disobeyed stay-at-home orders/social distancing guidelines (55%); or is unwilling to date virtually (21%). In fact, nearly half of singles say they are pickier about who they decide to meet in person than before the pandemic, and 32% say they are pickier about who they date virtually.
Couples who met during lockdowns say they have had more time to talk to each other with fewer distractions, which led to deeper conversations.
Sarah and Ibrahim Devi, both 33, met at one of our virtual speed dating events in April. They became an official item in June. “We did a lot more talking, which escalated the [dating] time frame because we were both working at home and had more free personal time. We weren’t going out during the lockdown, which actually made things easier,” says Ibrahim.
“I really was never the kind of person who enjoyed spending all my time with my partner. But as nothing was open we tended to just stay in, cook and watch movies. We crammed in six months of dating in two months and got really close, really quickly,” says Sarah.
So maybe there have been so positives to the lockdown when it comes to dating. But with no signs of things ending and London being placed into Tier 3 again what does the future look like as we head into 2021. Health experts recommend virtual dating as the safest way for people to engage with each other, especially for singles who have health conditions. It’s also the best time to discuss people’s routines and interactions, given the pandemic.
We will be starting our virtual speed dating events again in January and expect to see a real demand as the start of the year often is the time for people to make big changes and start new relationships. If you've never tried one, what are you waiting for: https://www.truedating.co.uk/Events
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