#onlinedating | Coronavirus UK: How dating lives are changing in self-isolation | #bumble | #tinder | #pof

A lot of people are using coronavirus as an ice-breaker (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

There are very few positive aspects of a pandemic, but if there’s one thing that the coronavirus health crisis has highlighted, it’s the importance of human connection.

And, that in times of crisis, we prioritise three things: toilet roll, pasta and dating.

You might have thought that a deadly virus and most of the country being in self-isolation (apart from our hero key workers) would put a dent in dating lives, but it appears that COVID-19 has had the exact opposite effect.

Dating apps have all seen an increase in sign-ups and swiping – and people are actually talking, too (one of the most well-known aspects of online dating is that people swipe but don’t engage in conversations).

Bumble has seen a 35% increase in messages sent, mostly among those aged 23-29. Meanwhile, newer apps like Love At First Swipe and Bare are getting fresh sign-ups, with the former having seen an increase of 60% of the new users in the past week alone.

And since we can’t actually meet up (please, don’t), people are having virtual dates instead – from online pub quizzes to Zoom video chats and FaceTime – with a 50% boost of singles asking others out on video dates on The Inner Circle, and 21% on Bumble.

But let’s get to the really juicy stuff.

How is self-isolation affecting people’s dating lives?

So, shall we video chat? (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

Nina Sawetz, has been self-isolating for 14 days and had her first virtual date at the beginning of the month.

Nina tells us: ‘We had been texting for a week or so before the coronavirus chaos, and had actually planned to meet for dinner on the Friday, but since the lockdown escalated, obviously this wasn’t something we could do.

‘So we decided we didn’t want to just give up altogether, and went for the second best thing – dinner together, but online.’

After sharing her coronavirus date idea on Twitter, Nina received nearly 4,000 retweets. Deliveroo saw the tweet and offered the pair a £100 voucher for their date – which Nina donated to NHS frontline staff.

But the pair didn’t actually meet on a dating app.

Nina said: ‘We have a mutual friend, so we didn’t meet on any dating apps or anything.

‘I haven’t actually been on any apps since “the lockdown” but I know from others that they are full of singles!’

With that, we jumped onto Hinge and Tinder to find out for ourselves if Nina is right.

Within minutes of chatting to our first match, let’s call him David, we were already talking about the perils of self-isolation.

Soon after, a video date was organised for the following night (which, in case you’re curious, went splendidly).

Another two more matches revealed that conversations again veered to coronavirus. It seems the pandemic, and everything that comes with it, is a great ice-breaker – which makes sense, because everyone has a take on it.

Tinde reports that the top terms right now are: ‘stay home’, ‘be safe’, ‘social distancing’, ‘how are you’ (good to know we’re all still polite) and ‘wash your hands’.

Video chats, albeit useful right now, can feel daunting.

Louise, a self-proclaimed ‘compulsive swiper’, tells us that she’s yet to have a virtual date and that, without them, it’s difficult to keep up the conversation.

‘I’ve always been a bit of a compulsive swiper but now it feels like dating in purgatory,’ she says.

‘I’m torn between feeling like it’s nice getting to know someone conversationally before going for a drink, frustration about not being able to meet up and either party becoming bored of constant back and forth with no end in sight!

‘I think men in particular struggle to communicate via text at times and because voice-noting doesn’t seem to be very popular in the UK. I find conversations can stall pretty quickly.

‘I’ve had a lot of people suggest “zoom” dates but for now I want to keep my teleconferencing activity to the workplace… but perhaps in a week I’ll have changed my mind and I’ll use it as an excuse to put my lashes in again and wash my hair!’

Like Louise, Jack hasn’t had a video date yet, but he’s considering taking on Nina’s trick.

‘I’m talking to a girl now that I’d love to take out, but the Rona is stopping me.

‘I was going to suggest the whole virtual date thing where we order each other a take away to the other person’s house.’

Others, like Sharon*, are swiping more but find that the boost in people using the apps on a regular basis has caused them to be more flippant with matches.

She says: ‘I’m swiping more but no one is talking, though my friend was talking to me this morning saying he’s matched with five guys but has been ghosted by all of them when he tries to arrange video dates or actually have a proper conversation.

‘Definitely also had guys who normally wouldn’t give me the time of day start sending topless photos of themselves to me.’

More: Coronavirus

Meanwhile, another woman, Ella*, tells us she’s ‘never had such fast responses’ and feels like ‘a kid in a candy store’.

And it appears video chats bring out the naughty in people. Since they’re not able to hook up in real life, people are having video sex instead.

Ella says: ‘There is gonna be no need for Pornhub when you’ve got your own web cams.’

If video sex feels too awkward, but you still want to get freaky with a new crush while stuck indoors, you could always try phone sex (and as it happens, we’ve put together a guide on how to have phone sex if you’re new to it).

Or if you’d rather stick to non-sexual dating but don’t fancy using dating apps, the speed dating company Date in a Dash is hosting virtual speed dating through Zoom.

Or do all of the above – you’ve got plenty of time on your hands.

Just be sure to give your fingers a break now and then, so you don’t end up having to ice them from the strain of swiping.

Tips on how to have a virtual date

Dating experts at Badoo tells us their tops on how to have a great virtual date:

  • Act like this is a face-to-face date and dress like you would on an IRL date, this will be sure to get you in the date night mood.
  • Use an interesting backdrop for your video chat, don’t feel you need to be confined to the bedroom.
  • Get creative and think of activities you can do in tandem while on video chat – Netflix party anyone?
  • Don’t forget to have a charger nearby! You never know, you may hit it off with someone and you wouldn’t want a code red
  • If you would normally plan a date around food or drink, why not do it virtually? Get UberEats on speed dial or how about cooking up a special meal ‘together’.
  • If you’re feeling nervous, have some quirky questions or ice-breakers on hand (again, you’re in luck, Metro.co.uk have already put some together for you).

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