Just a few months ago, people could awkwardly hold hands, twist heart-shaped straws out of shared milkshakes, and maybe even steal a kiss. But things have changed. Now profiles read things like ‘If COVID-19 doesn’t get you out, can I? “
Sam Jackson, a Boise resident, thought the dating app Tinder might be a good way to connect with people other than his roommates.
“I re-downloaded it from quarantine because I need to talk to someone,” Jackson said.
Now, with the coronavirus, even getting together for a drink in person is risky behavior. Online dating and profiles have been forced to adapt.
“It’s like you or the other person is like, ‘Oh, how’s your quarantine going? »What do you do to keep busy? Have you lost your job? ‘”Jackson said.
Popular dating platforms such as tinder, buzz and OK Cupid say traffic is on the rise, meaning more people are wading through pandemic pickup lines and selfies showing supplies of toilet paper and hand sanitizer.
Riki Thompson, a professor at the University of Washington Tacoma, studies online dating.
“I would call what is happening… survival encounters,” she said.
The chances of meeting someone new outside of a dating platform are now slim to none, Thompson said. This has made people more willing to engage with online messaging or even video chat.
“The concept of video dating is actually a game changer for them because it allows them to actually talk to people,” said Thomspon, “without having to spend time and money to go out and date and be. disappointed.”
The Bumble dating app introduced video calling to the platform last year. According to a Bumble representative, the feature saw a 69% increase in video calls in the week of May 1 alone.
Thompson said it was also a way to “screen” a potential mate, with little to no risk.
But some find video chat even more intimate than a typical first date in person. And online date Sam Jackson said he wouldn’t.
“When you go on a date you are like yourself, but like fighting each other you have to make sure your room is clean or you let that person in to see things in your house,” said Jackson.
But dating isn’t limited to messaging or video chat.
“People see people,” Thompson said. “They don’t all argue until it’s over.”
Boise resident Monica Leibowitz said she re-downloaded Tinder while in isolation and participated in a few social-distancing in-person dating.
“I’ve been to the park a few times and met people and they just sat ten yards away from me and we just talked,” Leibowitz said.
Thompson said some choose to practice what is known as the “COVID link.” This means choosing partners to risk during this time, but with rules in place to keep this risk acceptable.
“You say, ‘I’m ready to share sprouts with you. I’m ready to be in your space and share the space and take the risk, ”Thompson said. “Without barriers. Without mask. Without rubber gloves.
But others are opting for a less restricted path: completely ignoring social distancing measures.
Jackson said he was repeatedly asked to “break quarantine” and get out. But he’s not interested.
“To see someone who doesn’t take quarantine seriously is a huge blow. Like, I don’t want to talk to you anymore, ”he said.
For some, dating without meeting in real life just isn’t worth it.
Thompson of the University of Washington said some online daters are welcoming the change of pace.
“I’ll say, a lot of people just said, ‘I’m taking a break. It’s good. Now I can get rid of these exhausting apps.
Jackson said the pandemic made him realize how ready he was to resume face-to-face meetings when it was all over.
“I am delighted to be dating him afterwards,” he said. “It made me more interested, because it’s like, ‘Oh, I hate being alone and in quarantine.’ It’s not funny.”
But for now, daters will keep swiping, messaging, video chatting, and possibly breaking some rules until the real romance of dinner and a movie returns.
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