For many, finding love in a time of coronavirus seemed a grim concept.
People found themselves submerged in a new state of singledom, amplified by self-isolation and far from any prospects of casual or everlasting love.
But for Riva and Jack, one swipe right turned into an ‘unprecedented’ match made in heaven.
The two 23-year-olds found themselves swiping more intently on the dating app Bumble during the lockdown period.
“We both joined Bumble about six months prior, but didn’t actively use it until COVID required us to go into isolation,” Riva tells 9Honey.
The pair had both been overseas prior to the pandemic.
Riva had spent three months in Bali teaching English to children, while Jack had been in the UK studying abroad for six months.
“We were both seeking someone genuine, authentic and down-to-earth who we could have new experiences with,” Jack tells 9Honey.
During the first month of lockdown, Bumble recorded a 23 per cent increase in longer, ‘genuine chats’ among the app’s 90 million users worldwide, with more attentive connections formed.
Neither Riva or Jack had held high expectations for the app, despite being “secretly optimistic” about finding someone.
“We are both not heavy digital users, but this truly changed both our perspectives on virtual dating,” Jack adds.
The pair connected and “truly jumped straight into the deep end,” forgoing small talk for conversations about politics, values, and what they were looking for.
Though they were instantly compatible, the couple argue the influence of the pandemic made them put in “100 per cent into a new connection.”
“It felt as though we began to evolve our own values and future plans with not only a new person in mind, but a new world,” they agree.
“It also made small talk pretty boring in comparison to discussing big-picture topics.”
Lucille McCart, Associate Director for Bumble Australia, says there’s been a shift towards “slow dating”, with 86 per cent of Aussie users noting an interest in following the trend.
Slow dating, she explains to 9Honey, “is really about taking it 10 steps back and really getting to know someone.”
“If you’ve ever watched a romantic comedy, slow dating is for you.”
The move towards ‘slow dating’, McCart adds, has seen users less concerned about “physicality and what people look like” during the lockdown, and more interested to know “what’s inside their brain.”
“We returned to genuine connection and romance during this time, rather than something casual.”
This romantic shift in dating app behaviour, McCart adds, is in part due to fear around the virus, causing a lot of Aussie singles to “re-learn a lot of boundaries.”
Bumble has found almost half of its Aussie users (41 per cent) want to date in real life again, but are unsure how to approach it, with a third recording feeling nervous about meeting up for fear of catching or spreading coronavirus.
The app has now added three new badges, allowing users to indicate how they’d like to approach a real-life date safely as lockdown eases.
McCart reveals the new feature helps people indicate whether they’re looking to virtually date, go on a socially-distant date, or date while wearing masks.
“There’s still a place for casual dating, but a lot of our community are telling us they’re more open to meeting someone and meeting them for longer, and we want them to do it safely,” she shares.
When it came to their first date, Riva and Jack jumped straight into romance – at a distance, of course.
“Our first IRL date was fish and chips whilst overlooking a gorgeous sunset,” Riva reveals.
“Jack was a little awkward at first, though!”
Charmed by each other’s intelligence and sense of humour, the pair are continuing to take things slow but are looking forward to ticking off a few conventional dating rituals.
“I think there are a lot of things we haven’t experienced yet due to COVID-19 that are integral to the dating phase; things like going to a bar, restaurants, the movies, etc,” shares Riva.
Although lockdown is slowly lifting across the country, McCart adds that more than half of Bumble’s Australian users are looking to find a meaningful connection so they have a partner if social distancing is brought back.
“People want genuine love, and they seem to want it more now.”