Many of us will have started 2020 looking forward to a new year of dating and perhaps hoping to find ‘the one’.
However, by March, the country was in an unprecedented lockdown due to the worldwide spread of a virus we’d not even heard of just a couple of months previous.
So, what impact has the UK lockdown had on dating so far, how different is dating looking to how it used to, and what does the future of dating have in store for us?
Could this pandemic change dating forever?
What dating used to look like
Dating is very subjective, and everyone dates differently; however, data allows us to safely make some assumptions about what dating used to look like.
Importantly, a third of 18-44-year-olds used dating apps and sites pre-pandemic, and even more people have since signed up.
Of those that use these dating platforms, 18-24-year-olds mostly use Tinder (75 per cent), which has always been famous for casual hook-ups, and Bumble (31 per cent), an app that puts women in the driving seat of communications.
Adults in the 25-34 age bracket tend to prefer Match.com, with 36 per cent of them using the site. Match.com is a site that aims to match people for long-term relationships.
Despite so many people signing up to dating apps and sites, around 56 per cent of adults view them in a negative light.
The exact reasons are unknown but suggested ideas are the inherent risks of meeting people online and concerns about personal data.
Having said that, 58 per cent of those that do or have used these platforms, rate them as either ‘somewhat positive’ or ‘very positive’. Of those who have met their partner online, 78 per cent have a favourable view of them.
So, with the evident popularity of dating apps and sites, dating across the age brackets in the past often involved meeting someone online, getting to know them to a certain extent via messaging, and then meeting up.
Often, going for drinks or a meal was involved, with Tinder users more likely to end the evening with a one night stand and those that use other dating platforms enjoying further dates (or not, depending on how the first date went).
Either way, dates used to take place in person, either inside or outside of the home. There was chatting via the dating app or site beforehand but, often, not that much chatting took place before the first meet.
What dating looks like now
Since lockdown began in the UK, dating as we know it has been completely turned on its head.
At the time of writing, the lockdown has been eased slightly, and we are now allowed to meet with one person outside of our household in a public place, as long as we remain socially distanced.
However, until now, it has been a case of staying home and only socialising with the people you live with.
Of course, that isn’t ideal when it comes to meeting a new partner — especially when you’re used to the old style of dating.
So, how have people been dating throughout lockdown? Virtually.
Tinder has reported a notable rise in use since lockdown began and Tinder, eHarmony, OKCupid and Match.com have all reported a significant increase in video dating — be it via Skype, WhatsApp, or Zoom.
In fact, video dating has become so popular that Tinder intends to roll out its own in-app video dating function next month.
Some people see video dates as a negative or are frustrated and just want to meet up as usual — however, dating during the pandemic comes with a host of unexpected benefits, including:
- It’s cheaper.
- It’s less effort.
- Location doesn’t matter.
- The “getting to know you” phase of dating is being extended, making it easier to decide if someone is a match for you or not.
- You don’t have to worry about the venue you choose for your date or argue over who pays the bill in the restaurant.
- The ‘should I kiss them/go back to their house or not?’ dilemma is avoided.
- Small talk is out: you’re more likely to engage in more in-depth and more meaningful conversations when dating during a pandemic.
- You’re likely to share more of yourself when dating via video as you’ll find new ways to connect with your date.
- Weddings are being delayed, meaning you can’t rush the process (it’s been found that the later you wed in your relationship, the more likely you are to stay married!)
So, in summary, dating right now is very different to how it was before the lockdown began — but not necessarily worse.
In fact, some singles are claiming that their dating life has never been better!
What dating will look like in the future
When social distancing eventually ends, we have no doubt that many people will return to in-person dating. In the meantime, people may embark on socially distanced dates.
However, with video dates becoming integrated into online dating platforms, we foresee a lot of video dates happening before people meet up in person.
This will save people time and money, and also enable them to ensure they click with someone before meeting them in person — something that can be hard to judge via text messaging alone.
Individuals may continue to date outside of their local area too — something that video dating has enabled, which has opened up a literal world of opportunity for daters.
Tinder has shared plans to transform its platform from a place people go to organise offline hook-ups, to an online space where people hang out and get to know each other.
These plans are a direct reaction to the wants and needs of the app’s users. Prepare to see live events on Tinder and virtual spaces for people to gather and chat.
With Tinder being the most popular of the dating apps, we’d imagine others will be following suit rapidly.