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Love in the time of coronavirus: Texting all day? Going out for dinner on Zoom?

Whether it’s long-term love or a casual date, people are still searching for romance during this time.

Image: Shutterstock/Rachel Moon

ONLINE DATING AT the moment can be a challenge, but there are plenty of ways for people to get together while still staying at home. 

Swiping left and right has been commonplace for years, but the prospect of meeting up in person has always been possible for most people using location-based dating apps like Tinder and Bumble. 

That has now been stripped away for the foreseeable as people are advised to only leave their homes for essential purposes. How has the dating scene managed as a result?

Lisa*, 22, had a first date planned before social distancing measures were announced by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar last month. This has been postponed until she can meet her date in person and they have continued to talk online instead. 

“It’s kind of weird because there’s one lad I have been texting for a month now, but we haven’t met yet. It feels like being a teenager again texting all the time, but it’s still enjoyable,” she said.  

“A month is a really long time to talk to someone and not meet them.

It’s not like I’m in love with this man, it’s just casual… it’s something to do and I haven’t really used the apps since talking to this lad really.

Tinder, the most well-known online dating app where people swipe left on those they don’t like and right on those they do, said that its users are “finding new ways to connect” in the current climate. 

In a recent statement, Tinder said conversations from users in Britain have increased by 12% and last for 8% longer than usual, based on data compiled from mid-February to 26 March. 

Globally, conversations are also lasting 10-20% longer compared to February, according to Tinder.

Its passport feature is also now free to use on the app until 30 April. This allows users to change their location to anywhere around the world to match with people outside their vicinity. 

Connections

In terms of sex, the HSE issued guidance earlier this week. It advised people to only be sexually active with someone you live with who doesn’t have Covid-19, or any symptoms of the disease. 

It also says to avoid being sexually active or kissing anyone outside your household, and those who have Covid-19 symptoms. 

But what about people looking to form a more serious relationship during this time? Dating coach Frances Kelleher said she thinks this period could be “fantastic” for people looking to form deeper connections. 

“You have to adapt and adjust to this situation – instead of asking people out for a coffee, ask them for a virtual coffee instead through Skype or WhatsApp or whatever,” she said.  

Kelleher also advised having dinner together over a video call, particularly for people who have already met in person and had a few dates. 

“Dedicate your time to connecting with people, making genuine connections with people… to build the anticipation for the real date in the future,” she said. 

She said people should “watch out for the time-wasters” – people who use the apps purely for entertainment purposes. 

“That’s not good for people looking to meet or form a longer relationship,” she said. 

When meeting for a virtual date, Kelleher said not to “just show up in your pyjamas”, to pay attention to lighting and avoid too much clutter in the background. 

“Keep the date short and sweet at the start – you don’t want to go in too deep and too fast and stay online for hours and hours in the beginning,” she said. 

Meeting your match?

Jennifer Haskins, director of matchmaking service Two’s Company, said her business is still trying to figure out how to adapt to Covid-19. 

She offers a dating service with private profiles for members who meet up in person. All members are vetted by the company before being paired with other people, a practice that has to change under the current circumstances. 

“We have been trying to look after our members. Three weeks ago, we were advising people to meet for walking dates,” she said. 

“These proved to be very effective and a lot of people said they found it very informal, less intimidating than sitting in a bar or restaurant together,” she said. 

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She has recommended people to keep in touch through social media with anyone in which they have an interest.

“I think it’s very important that people keep that connection going,” Haskins said. 

“Not everybody is comfortable with doing a video call, a lot are very self-conscious about this kind of thing and as well as that, a lot of people feel they aren’t looking their best at the moment with the hairdressers closed and everything.”

Looking ahead 

Dee* (37) from Dublin said she has tried “every dating app out there” at this point.  

“It seems to me now that Bumble works for someone like me, as in the people on there seem like they’re not just looking for something casual,” she said. 

Bumble is a dating app that uses the same swipe right-swipe left feature as Tinder. However, it gives heterosexual women ‘first move’ privileges – meaning they have to message the man first or the match expires in 24 hours. 

For same-sex matches, each person can message first but the match will still run out within 24 hours if nobody makes a move. 

This app has a video option for users, but Dee said she generally prefers meeting people in person. 

“Mind you, if things go on the way they do, it seems we singletons will have no choice if we want to meet someone. I’ll be popping on my best lipstick and working the lighting before I get a video date going. No one needs to see me in a tracksuit!”  

*Names have been changed 

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