VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — Trying to find love under lockdown has ushered in some positive changes to how Vancouverites approach online dating.
Director of Relationship Science for Hinge, Logan Ury, says downloads have increased 96 per cent year over year. In Vancouver, 70 per cent of app users report that they have continued to date during the pandemic.
Not only is the app more popular, but the way people are using it has also changed.
“While people may have felt frustrated about dating over the last year, they’ve been creative and resilient and finding different ways to either go on virtual dates, or to meet up in person in ways that mean that they’re not taking the year off from finding love,” she says.
One of the key changes Ury has observed is an increase in “intentionality” among app users.
“What this means is that a lot of Hinge users, especially toward the beginning of the pandemic, they spent those early months alone wondering, ‘What can I do to find somebody?’ How can I really meet my person?’ So they’ve become more intentional about who they are, what they’re looking for, and what kind of relationship they want to be in,” she says.
According to Ury, one way this manifests is that ghosting — abruptly ceasing or cutting off communication — has decreased by 27 per cent.
“People are being more intentional about who they match with and then more thoughtful about how to either continue or not continue. It’s not that you’re going to be interested in everyone you match with, but by not ghosting people you are being more empathetic and letting somebody know, ‘Hey you know it was great to meet you, but I don’t think that we’re a good romantic match.’”
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People have also reported having more serious conversations sooner, partly due to the need to take COVID-19-related precautions.
“One of the silver linings of the pandemic is that people have been forced to have hard conversations earlier. ‘Will you be wearing a mask? How have you been practising social distancing? Are we going to be safe when we meet up?” Ury explains.
“What I really hope continues is the ability for couples to have important, but maybe challenging conversations earlier in the relationship.”
Perhaps unsurprisingly, video dates have become much more popular, a trend that Ury expects will persist post-pandemic.
“We’ve seen a meteoric rise in video dates,” she says.
“Users tell us that it’s a safe and comfortable way to get a vibe check with someone, and so even when it’s safe to meet up in person, and people want to continue doing that.”
In Vancouver, 42 per cent of Hinge users say they have been on a virtual date.
To adapt to this demand, the app has added a feature for users to identify their “safe dating preferences” and indicate what kind of interaction they feel comfortable with.
“Basically what happens is users are able to set their boundaries, whether they want to meet up in person, whether they want to do a video chat, and we feel like this is a great way to get users off of the app and onto great dates,” Ury says.
With summer approaching, Ury says 81 per cent of Vancouver users say they’re ready to resume in-person dating this summer.
Ury has some advice for anyone who has taken a hiatus from dating due to COVID-19
“What we recommend is first of all is to all identify your boundaries. What are you comfortable with? What feels good for you?” she says.
“If you need some time to get back out there even as social distancing guidelines shifts, you should really take it at your own speed. It’s important just to take the time you need to take and understand that this has been a challenging year for a lot of us.”