#onlinedating | Coronavirus online video dating | #bumble | #tinder | #pof


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Quarantined singles have no choice but to search for prospective mates online, as social distancing has made finding love during the coronavirus epidemic entirely virtual.

Newton native Amanda Shane and Chelsea Mandel of New York, founders of the new dating community Catch Feelings, Not COVID, talked to the Track and walked us through the current, screen-centric singles scene.

“We have to adapt to the times now,” Shane said. “I know that not everybody was comfortable with online dating pre-COVID, so it’s very interesting to watch as this unfolds. It’s no longer as much of a stigma as it was before COVID.”

“People have been getting more and more comfortable with online dating because it’s now really like a necessity if you’re single,” she added.

Shane and Mandel, who first launched their free coronavirus dating service in New York City before expanding to Boston and other hubs across the country, have been manually matching singles and setting them up on FaceTime, Zoom or Skype dates. Through their clients’ experiences — which have included everything from deep discussions to simultaneous cooking sessions all via videochat — the duo has managed to glean the good and the bad that comes with only-online courtship.

“I think there are a lot of benefits,” Mandel said. “It’s a numbers game and you can meet so many more people this way. You can’t have 20 first dates in one week in person because nobody has the time, nobody wants to spend the money or the effort to do that.”

“Now, you’re sitting on your couch in the comfort of your own home,” she added. “The dates are 15 to 20 minutes. They’re very low stakes. There’s nothing really to lose, so people are a lot more comfortable and have their guards down. God forbid if things are terrible, they can just shut the screen.”

While dating may now seem less intimidating, there is an obvious pitfall to pursuing a relationship during this era of isolation.

“Of course, the con is that you aren’t with the person physically,” Shane said. “You can see them physically, but it’s not the same as having them there, having the pheromones going around.”

“You’re not getting a vibe or reading body language because you only see from the neck-up, a little lower,” she added. “I think that definitely has something to do with the way that people feel whether or not they connect with someone.”

This physical barrier can be even more frustrating for people who are clicking through video but can’t actually meet in the real world because of health advisories and restrictions.

“We have people who are exclusively dating and they’re like, ‘Well, now what?’,” Mandel said. “They don’t want to fall in love and have these strong feelings without ever having met.”

“Because of the COVID pandemic, they can’t and they’re like, ‘What do we do? Fall in love and get married via the computer? Or do we pump the breaks a bit until we can actually meet and see if the physical connections are there, too, and it’s not just emotional?’”

Despite the unique hurdles that these budding online relationships face amidst the health crisis, the ladies said that it does seem like many people don’t view the pandemic as a reason to put their personal lives on pause.

“Generally, people need feelings of being connected, they need intimacy, they need feelings of support,” Mandel said. “Especially at a time when people are feeling lonely, I think people have been looking even more for that human element.”


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