More than half of online daters are seeking long-term relationships after the coronavirus lockdown is lifted, according to a survey.
Dating app Bumble, which is known for letting putting ‘women first’, estimates that 52 per cent of its UK users will seek a steady partner post-social distancing.
The survey results suggest 55 per cent of UK Bumble users are also seeking more meaningful relationships online after experiencing loneliness during lockdown.
‘Pre-dating’ video chats – a feature launched last year that lets users meet online before an in-person date – has also seen more than a 40 per cent rise in lockdown.
This shift to video to meet people during lockdown has left a lasting imprint and is ‘here to stay’, the app’s developer has said.
The pandemic has also sparked a ‘slow love trend’ that gives users more time to allow a romantic attachment to naturally flourish.
‘Digital intimacy’ – including the sending of intimate photos and video via the app – is also expected to become more important by half of respondents.
The app, which allows women to make the first contact with men and not the other way round, revealed survey results than suggest users are seeking long-term relationships after lockdown
WHAT IS BUMBLE?
Bumble is a free social networking and dating app that allows women to make the first contact with matched men.
Users can set up an account using their Facebook profile or phone number.
They can use the app to search for romantic matches, or just friends in ‘BFF’ mode.
In heterosexual matches, only women can make the first contact with men, while in homosexual matches, either person can make the approach.
Bumble’s platform is built around ‘kindness, respect, and equality’ and holds its users accountable for their actions with a zero-tolerance policy regarding hate aggression or bullying.
Its founder, 30-year-old Whitney Wolfe Herd, has described Bumble as a ‘feminist dating app’.
Wolfe Herd co-founded rival app Tinder but left in 2014 to found Bumble.
Wolf Herd sued Tinder for sexual discrimination and harassment – a case that was later settled out of court.
Bumble, which has released new features specific to lockdown including a ‘virtual date badge’ that shows a user wants digital-only meetups, believes social distancing has ‘drastically changed’ the way we date.
‘Whether it’s using Bumble for the first time to video date or planning your first meet post-lockdown, we’re seeing that people are slowing down and looking for more meaningful connections,’ said Naomi Walkland, Bumble’s associate director of marketing.
‘Over the past two months, we’ve seen a big increase in video calls and we’ve recently launched in-app audio notes and a virtual dating badge that lets potential matches know you’re open to a video chat.
‘This is part of our continued efforts to help people safely navigate the new world of virtual dating.’
Bumble, a US creation with more than 95 million users globally, is known for letting the woman make the first approach to a man and not the other way round.
The company used internal data and online polling between May 15-18 with a sample of 726 men and women from the UK, to find out more about changes to dating habits mid-lockdown – and any lasting long-term effects.
Bumble has seen a rise in the use of in-app video and voice calling features. In the UK, there has been a 42 per cent increase of in-app video calls since mid-March
The UK lockdown period, which started on March 24 and is being gradually eased, has left people ‘very lonely’, Bumble said.
Because of this, 55 per cent of its users are seeking more meaningful relationships, driven by the desire to avoid experiencing the effects of another pandemic alone.
With limited psychical contact, people are ‘seeking new ways to interact and engage’, Bumble said.
Dating apps are key to this, with 42 per cent of survey respondents saying that they are more important than before the pandemic.
Lockdown has also given way to a new ‘slow love trend’ with more time to enable romance and attachment to develop slowly and flourish in the long term.
43 per cent of users think they will spend more time chatting online with people compared to before as part of bigger focus on getting to know them and building trust before they meet in person.
Social distancing means that ‘digital intimacy’ is on the rise – more than 50 per cent of Bumble UK respondents think it will become more important after lockdown
Meanwhile, more than 50 per cent think ‘digital intimacy’ – which covers the much more personal type of video and text chat – will become more important, as real-life meetups are ‘still risky and anxiety-inducing’.
‘There’s no right or wrong way to get intimate over the phone, via text, or even on video, but there are ways to establish boundaries and get comfortable, especially if this is all new to you,’ Bumble said in a blog post.
Last year, Bumble added in-app voice and video calls to its platform, giving users the ability to chat face-to-face before they meet in person.
The company’s internal data has now revealed a 42 per cent increase of in-app video calls in the UK since mid-March, just before the government’s stringent lockdown measures.
However, only 29 per cent of respondents – less than a third – plan to continue using video dating as a way to get to know matches better before meeting the old-fashioned way.
Bumble launched a ‘private detector’ that uses machine learning to scan images in real time before blurring them and alerting the receiver of the image
Overall, 82 per cent of respondents claim to still be interested in dating, compared to 75 per cent just two weeks ago.
To keep its users interested in dating and stay active on the app, Bumble has released a variety of virtual dating tools with lockdown in mind as rel-life dates are ‘currently off the table’.
As well as a virtual date badge, Bumble has released an expanded ‘distance filter’to match users with people from all over the country and an ‘audio note’ for matches to listen to more than once
The company also provides users with tools to ensure interactions take place safely, including a ‘private detector’, released last year, that blurs unsolicited nude images.