Before digital dating, there was IRL. Eyes meeting across a crowded room, lonely hearts ads in the paper, even actually walking up to someone you fancy to ask them to go out with you.
But for many of us, that all changed with the the rise of online dating. And it’s moved on even further over the past 14 months – ‘grabbing a drink’ has become a socially distanced walk in the park, while Zoom dates, something we’d previously have shunned, are the new norm.
From its inception in the 60s to today, we chart the history of digital dating.
1. The beginning
The first computer dating service, Operation Match, was designed in 1965 by two Harvard students. Operation Match asked singles to return a 150-question survey by post, answering questions about their ideal partner and perfect dates. Once received, the answers were run through a computer to assign six potential love matches to the eligible young dater, which they’d get sent the details of three weeks later.
Not quite the speed we’re used to today…
2. Laptop love
30 years later, internet technology had advanced significantly. The 90s saw the introduction of online dating websites, where those seeking relationships could find a partner without changing out of their pyjamas. Although still requiring a lengthy application process, these sites could connect people much more quickly than a mail-order matchmaking service.
Back then, bulky computer monitors and clacking keyboards were standard. But thankfully today’s tech, like the Logitech K380 Keyboard or M350 Mouse, has improved to make sure your flanter flows smoothly. These ultra-slim accessories connect via Bluetooth to your laptop, phone or tablet, are small enough to carry around in your handbag and quiet enough to help you find love without disturbing anyone around you.
3. There’s an app for that
In the early 2000s, screens got smaller and we started looking for love in the palm of our hands. Dating apps debuted, with the promise of finding a partner in just a few taps, and dedicated apps for dog lovers, bearded men, religious daters and more. No matter what your preference, there’s quite literally an app for that.
Swiping for a date has become our go-to, as relationship expert Sarah Louise Ryan explains. “There are more than 1,400 dating apps and sites in the UK, and the online dating industry is worth nearly £6.5 billion. Globally, online daters total almost 300 million,” she says.
The routine is very familiar: scroll, swipe, chat, arrange to meet for a first date. But what happened when the pandemic hit and love locked down?
4. Pandemic pause
When the Government announced a national lockdown, it looked like romance might have to be put on hold for the foreseeable future. But over the course of the past 14 months, things have had to shift.
Enter video. Dating app happn reports that more than half of its 3.1 million UK singles use the video date function for a first meeting, checking out that initial chemistry before committing to a socially distanced Tesco date.
The key to a great video date? The kit. Setting yourself up with the perfect tech means the only thing you have to worry about is keeping up the conversation. A Logitech StreamCam webcam will ensure your date is pixel-perfect, with the ability to tilt, pan or mount the camera on a tripod to nail your best angle.
You might even get a more accurate picture of your potential beau on a video date, explains therapist and sex educator Dr Katherine Hertlein. “The lack of personal nuances and body language that you would get on a face-to-face date can mean that you aren’t being influenced by someone’s charm and charisma,” she says.
5. The future
Post-pandemic, what’s next for online dating? It seems many of us are still hoping to find that strong connection. According to research from happn, nearly 50% of Brits say that lockdown has made them realise that they want to find love, with many feeling like the pandemic has cost them a year of looking for The One.
As Clara Torvisco Marquez, Marketing Lead at Logitech, adds: “Dating during the pandemic has been incredibly hard. Even as we gradually go back to normal, many people are still clicking and connecting online.”
“The potential for the death of hookup culture is real, because people want connectivity,” says Sarah Louise Ryan. “People will get serious about what they want and seek long-term relationships because they’ve realised life’s fragility.”
So will we ditch pixels for pubs once the world opens up again? The answer may be be a bit of both. Marine Ravinet, Head of Trends at happn, says: “73% of singles believe that virtually dating in the beginning will help them make a strong connection for the future.”
It sounds like virtual dating isn’t going anywhere soon.
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