#bumble | #tinder | #pof New romances forged on apps are now being tested in the real world

Psychotherapist and couples therapist Melissa Ferrari says the pandemic evoked heightened feelings of loneliness and an increased need for connection.

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“If someone is lonely they are going to cling to connection, It’s something we all need, want and desire,” she says. “I’m not surprised at all that people would be reaching out to ease their loneliness at the moment.”

This was the case for Perth woman Rachel Loughridge, who says when restrictions were eased, she discovered her virtual fling was only temporary.

“I think everyone can agree being at home all day every day gets quite boring so it was fun to talk to new people. But meeting a new person face-to-face made me realise that it was purely out of boredom,” she says.

Loughridge was not alone in wanting to maintain contact through dating apps. Bumble Australia saw a huge spike in usage between March and May, with a 76 per cent increase in video calls during the week ending May 1 compared to the week ending March 13. The app saw a 17 per cent increase in messages.

Both Loummer and Kojadelian agreed their level of communication “undeniably” increased due to the circumstances they found themselves in.

“Without distractions we were able to focus on one another and really get to know each other,” says Loummer. “We also used one another as support systems.”

“Our first video call ended when the sun came up, and since then it has become a daily tradition for hours at a time,” adds Kojadelian.

While initially not being able to go on traditional dates, the pair got creative in their approach — evenings spent dressed up watching concerts via Zoom, long walks and planning their next moves in a post-pandemic world.

“We walked for hours… it was a beautiful thing. We both listed points throughout the day we wanted to kiss, but didn’t out of fear of causing harm to each other,” Kojadelian says.

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Loummer adds: “[We were] excited to stop being paranoid about being together.”

Hinge found three out of five of the app’s Australian users planned to physically meet someone they had a virtual date with during lockdown.

While the usual first date options like restaurants and bars were off limits, Ferrari says that wasn’t necessarily a bad thing as it allowed new couples to get to know each other without the stress of “complicated dates.”

“Low key dates lower expectations and can be useful in bonding,” she says. “I’d argue that this is a great time to be dating. People can connect in a different way.”

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