#bumble | #tinder | #pof Boulder woman launches virtual blind dating experiment, Love Is Quarantine Boulder – Longmont Times-Call

With the federal social distancing guidelines being extended through April 30, folks are seeking out new ways to pass the time. Most of us have already binge-watched Netflix’s train-wreck of an epic “Tiger King,” conducted an in-home baking experiment  and perhaps attempted to give ourselves bangs.

Jessica Bailis, homebound and working remotely, saw an opportunity to offer local sequestered singles a chance to connect with others looking to spark up some virtual romance in the time of COVID-19.

Jessica Bailis has created a platform for local singles to connect romantically with other singles during these times of social distancing. Love is Quarantine Boulder matches up locals based on age and preference through ‘blind dates’ that take place over the phone or in Google Hangouts audio sessions. (Sarah Willard at ELC Photography/ Courtesy photo)

At the end of March, she created Love Is Quarantine Boulder — a blind dating platform that connects folks through phone calls and audio sessions in Google Hangouts. In a sense, a simple 30-minute phone call — in today’s text-dominated world — holds the same novelty for participants as the letter-writing prevalent in Jane Austen’s day of prolonged courtship. Bailis wants daters to stop sliding into DMs and actually chat without asking for photos or physical descriptions of the ones who they are communicating with. We caught up with the first-time, 36-year-old matchmaker to find out what inspired her to play cupid.

Daily Camera: Really love the idea of bringing singles together and potentially helping folks find a match during this time of social distancing. What inspired you to offer this service? Do you have a background in matchmaking? What’s your day job?

Jessica Bailis: I had just finished binge-watching “Love Is Blind” and was on my phone scrolling through my social apps when I saw this article about two NYC guys who started their own parody of the show on Instagram, @loveisquarantine. However, their version was open to people living all over the country and I thought, “Well that’s fun, but don’t people want to date someone they could actually meet in person at some point and have a chance at a real relationship?” I had already been self-quarantined by myself in my home for two weeks, and being the natural, social extrovert I am, I needed a social project to keep myself busy. So, I created Love Is Quarantine Boulder, posted in a few online groups to see if there was interest, and got over 30 people to sign up in just a few days.

I do not have a background in matchmaking and the only information I’m asking from participants is their first name, contact information, age, location, sexuality preference and preferred age range for dates. There’s no other science behind it. I’m single myself, so if I was actually applying for a matchmaking job, I doubt I’d be considered if I can’t even find a match for myself. I have a full-time job — currently working from home due to social distancing — as a marketing and communications research analyst in the energy industry.

DC: How are you getting the word out about this venture? Have people already begun to fill out the online forms to participate?

JB: I launched the Google form to start accepting applicants on March 26 and by March 29, I had 35 people sign up. I posted in Boulder Facebook groups, singles groups and shared with a few friends. I also created a Facebook page and ran a small ad buy to gain interest.

DC: What would you say is your ultimate goal for this project? What are you hoping to achieve?

JB: First and foremost, I just want people to have fun and find a little joy in this time of craziness. I’ve seen families on social media posting about their quarantine adventures, and wanted to help the other single people out there that may be going through this time completely alone. I think it would just be the cherry on top if my experiment actually created some real connections and it would be amazing if a couple actually met this way and once they were actually able to meet in person, continued their relationship.

DC: You seem to perhaps be a romantic. After all, helping singles find love is a noble thing to do, especially during this time. What are your top three romantic movies to watch? I’m sure readers would like to hear your suggestions given the amount of free time we have on our hands now.

JB: It’s true, I am definitely a hopeless romantic. I’ve found love a few times, but never the one. And I watch a lot of TV and movies that I know are over-the-top and unrealistic when it comes to love and relationships, but like many of us, I can’t help myself. My top three romantic movies to watch are “You’ve Got Mail” — funny, that was blind dating, too, “My Best Friend’s Wedding” — even though she doesn’t get the guy in the end and “The Holiday” — because I can relate to both of the lead female characters. And my favorite silly romantic movie is “The Sweetest Thing.”

DC: I read that the daters will connect with a call or audio only in Google Hang. Why is it important to you to keep the appearance of participants hidden? Do you expect folks to eventually follow up with a FaceTime or Skype session if they feel called to?

JB: The phone call or Google Hangout — with audio only — is what makes it an actual blind date. It’s what sets it apart from any other type of virtual dating, like Tinder or Bumble, which people can still totally do right now even in quarantine. I wanted to honor the uniqueness of “Love Is Blind” on Netflix and recreate those blind dates in pods. Except the pod is your own home. And instead of talking through a sparkly, opaque window, you just have a good, old-fashioned phone call with a stranger. I’ve told participants that I can’t control what they do, if they end up sharing photos or video-chatting, but my recommendation is to keep it blind for at least the first three dates to see if there’s a real emotional connection. At that point, they’re free to leave the experiment and end the “blindness” of their relationship. Hopefully, they can actually meet in person at some point when we’re not all on lockdown.

DC:  Lastly, looks like this service is geared towards folks of all ages and orientations. How important was it to be inclusive?

JB: Very important. Everyone deserves love and I didn’t want to create boundaries that were completely unnecessary. Applicants range in age from 18 to 59, and we have people of all sexualities involved. If I can make a plug, we do need more men. There are a few people I haven’t been able to match yet, so I invite single gay men any age and heterosexual men, ages 40 to 60 and over, to apply now. Your match is waiting for you.

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