“It was during COVID that we saw parks being the number one choice and date recommendation, which is obviously very different from a pre-COVID world.”
DALLAS – If you had to guess what has been the most popular place for a date over the past year and a half, what would you choose?
If you’re not thinking about cute outdoor walks and picnics, you might be wrong.
âIt was during COVID that we saw parks being the number one choice and date recommendation, which is obviously very different from a pre-COVID world,â said Rachel De Alto, chief dating expert for Match.
Dallas-based Match Group is the company behind some of today’s most popular dating apps and sites like Match, Hinge, Tinder, Plenty of Fish, and OkCupid. The company has collected data and research from singles throughout the pandemic.
âWhen the quarantine first took place, everyone, I think, caught their breath and thought, ‘Oh, maybe I can wait for this thing to end. We will see what happens in a week, âsaid De Alto. “And then you saw this change to, ‘Oh, that’s not changing. online dating because we are accessible regardless of what is going on around us. “
This is what happened for Danielle Williams and Roger Simon. They are both in their mid-twenties and were living in College Station when COVID-19.
Williams said she used the apps to meet potential matches, but didn’t push too hard until the pandemic.
“I feel like once the pandemic hit, people kind of got into this headspace ofâ¦ okay, it’s real, maybe I should slow down and I should move on. someone in a more serious way. “
Simon, who was new to dating apps, said he downloaded Hinge to distract himself from what was going on.
âI was scrolling, and when I came across Danielle’s profile, I told her all the time, time stood still,â Simon said. “She’s so beautiful. Like, I remember exactly where I was. I remember what was going on then.”
He found the perfect line to send her.
âI’d walk through a traffic light to be the Apple Watch on your arm,â Williams recalls. “I had an Apple Watch on my little profile picture.”
They laugh about it now, but that line, while strange, was just the beginning.
The first time they met was for wine and a chat in Simon’s apartment.
Their first official date was a picnic that Williams had planned in, you guessed it, a park.
âWe always wanted to be safe,â Williams said.
Both were planning to move to North Texas, so when the time came, they said it had worked out well. Now the two live in their own apartments within minutes of each other in Richardson.
They celebrated 11 months of their official union in October.
âWe were right next to each other all the time, and I feel like when you’re like that you can’t help but get to know someone,â Williams said.
While Williams and Simon said it’s not unusual for them to come out with a goal and pursue each other with intention, Match’s chief scientific advisor Dr Helen Fisher said many couples of the generation Y were starting to lean in that direction during isolation fueled by COVID.
âThe pandemic has made us grow taller,â Fisher said.
Fisher said that before COVID-19, younger generations turned to marriage in their early twenties, instead of their late twenties, which was more common for older generations. She said it lent itself to longer lasting relationships. She said the younger generations are also placing more emphasis on self-care, which lends itself to stronger relationships. She said COVID-19 only emphasizes soul-searching.
âI’m very impressed with singles today, especially Gen Z and Millennials, people of childbearing age,â Fisher said. âThey are determined to get in order. They spend a lot of time and energy on themselves, figuring out who they are, what they want, what they don’t want. they do not want. “
Video dating is something that has become standard practice during the pandemic. Match began offering in-app video technology, so daters don’t have to swap phone numbers to set up video calls themselves.
De Alto said only 7% of singles surveyed about video dating before the pandemic were interested in it. She said COVID-19 pushed that up to 76%.
âSex is not on the table,â Fisher said. âYou don’t have to worry about that. The money is no longer on the table. You don’t have to decide where to go and you know you just have to dress your upper body.
Fisher and De Alto both said they believe early video dates will remain a trend even in a post-pandemic world.
âIt’s too practical,â Fisher said.
De Alto’s advice for taking this route is not to let the date last longer than 20 minutes, unless you are doing an activity.
âLeave room for more growth in this relationship rather than spending three hours staring at each other,â De Alto said.
Although the dates themselves have changed, the two women said Match data collected from singles throughout the pandemic shows a change in what they were looking for. According to Match, only 16% of D-FW singles want to casually date.
At least 63% of them are more interested in finding a long-term relationship, including 57% of Gen Z and 73% of Millennials.
At least 46% of D-FW singles want to be in a committed relationship within the next year.
âA lot of times we’re so focused on bigger, better, then,â De Alto said. âCOVID, horrible as it is, has forced us to slow down and take inventory of what we really need and want in our lives and in our relationships.
And it’s a change that Fisher said she says will continue and lay the foundation for stronger, more stable families for generations to come.
And it’s something we can all slide on.