As well as separating us from our family and friends and depriving us of festivals, coronavirus has hugely impacted the dating scene. While cohabiting lovers hunkered down for three months unaffected by distance, singletons were left to navigate the world of virtual dating. But don’t go reaching for your violins just yet because it wasn’t all bad news for the love life, despite the lack of human contact. Since lockdown began in March, dating app Bumble saw a 42% increase in video dates with the average call lasting 30 minutes.
Now, as the government loosen the lockdown reins and social distanced dates replace the video call meet-cute, what will this new dawn of dating feel like, and how do you stay safe as well as smitten when you’re looking for love? Will masking up be a total mood killer? What if they think you’re really not feeling it because you can’t brush their kneecap accidentally on purpose, or lean in for a quick peck?
After barely leaving the house for months, sitting down on a picnic to share a punnet of sweaty strawberries with a freshly sanitized hand is bound to feel weird and unnatural at first, so don’t be too hard on yourself. Take time to adjust and figure out what’s comfortable for you at this stage.
To help alleviate the anxiety around the future of dating and to, ahem, lubricate the social dating experience, Bumble will be introducing a range of features to facilitate dating from a distance.
With the introduction of profile badges, users will be able to filter their potential love interests based on their dating preferences. Whether you’re in the virtual-only camp, up for a socially distanced meet up or you prefer socially distanced dating with masks, the badges alleviate any pressure of having those awkward conversations. So, if you’re not interested in
l-o-v-e without full P-P-E, the badge is one way to spell it out.
We spoke to Bumble user, Charlotte Bendkowski, about her lockdown dating experience and the future of dating in a post-pandemic world. Charlotte is a criminology student living in London, she’s been single for two years and is currently looking for something long-term.
How have you found dating during lockdown?
I have been on a few virtual dates during lockdown. I sit there before with my laptop thinking how weird it will be, and what excuse can I come up with to cancel. Even though I am always pleasantly surprised, I have found dating during lockdown challenging. With meeting IRL out of the question, I thought it would be a great time to build on those online connections using Bumble and create some solid foundations. However, with nothing new happening, it’s inevitable you will run out of things to discuss. With small talk about your day a lot harder with the decrease in activities, I struggled to stay interested myself!
Some people might struggle to feel connected to someone on a video date, have you got any tips for breaking the ice / getting the conversation flowing?
Video calling can feel awkward at the start. Just relax into it, have a few questions in the back of your mind that you’d like to ask, make sure you are in comfortable surroundings and are feeling your best. Remember, you don’t have to spend hours on the call, just a gentle hello and introduction can be a friendly opening.
Was there anything better / simpler about virtual dating than dating IRL?
I think the one thing which stands out to me as tricky, is knowing whether you have chemistry in person. I have fancied a lot of men, and then when I’ve met them on a date, I just haven’t had that electricity that I want with them.
What are your reservations about social distanced dating, if any?
My reservations about social distanced dating are, what happens to the culture of chatting to someone at a bar? You can’t approach someone without knowing if they are comfortable with it, you can’t flirt or share a goodnight kiss. It does prove problematic for romance.
Tips for anyone nervous to get back out there?
Go for it! You’ve spent months locked in your house, get back out there and start living your best life!
How do you build intimacy from a distance?
I think the key to building intimacy from a distance is really understanding what each other is into, the key values they hold, their aspirations, motivations and what drives them. If you can understand these fundamentals, I believe you can build a great understanding of someone, and because you have the key principles, the intimacy comes with that understanding.
What’s your ideal socially distanced date?
My ideal socially distanced date would be on a beautifully sunny day, having a lovely picnic in a park and chatting until the early evening.
What’s been your biggest learning from this experience?
My biggest learning from this experience is that I am comfortable on my own, but I am growing and learning every day and it feels like the right time to look for someone to spend life with. The lockdown gave me a lot of time to reflect on my previous relationships and has helped me to understand what sort of partner I am looking for.
Do you think you’ll date differently in the future, even when ‘normal’ dating resumes?
Yes. I do really hope to be back to normal dating soon!
What’s in your social dis-dating survival kit?
My social distancing date survival kit includes a mask, hand sanitiser, perfume, mints, hairbrush and lipstick. My motto is feel your best, look your best, and the men will follow! 🙂