NEW YORK — If there’s one thing the pandemic hasn’t canceled, it’s the search for love.
Throughout the health emergency, daters have taken to apps, websites and matchmaking services in search of connection, with more meeting in person as the crisis drags on at a time when every touch is calculated and fraught.
“Daters are feeling creative. They’re feeling resilient, and they’re not willing to put a year of their love life on hold because of the global pandemic,” said Logan Ury, chief researcher for the popular dating app Hinge.
In March, Hinge experienced a 30% increase over January and February in messages sent among users. In June, compared to the same month last year, there was a 13% increase in the number of dates — virtual and in person — in the U.S. and U.K., Ury said.
Some daters insist on safety precautions before leaping into offline meetups. Others take no precautions, relying on mutual trust. A lucky few are on the ultimate step, marriage.
Look no further than Jordan and Brittany Tyler in Allegan, Mich., as evidence of that.
Jordan, an adjunct professor of communications at Western Michigan University, and Brittany, who supervises a program for autistic youth, had both been divorced about a year when the pandemic hit. Neither had dated online before they signed up for Match.com.
“When the lockdown happened an alert went off on my phone and it sounded liked ‘The Purge’ or something,” Brittany laughed. “I thought, ‘I’m going to die alone.’”
Both had dated their exes for several years before marrying. Not this time.
The two started texting March 18. They were wed by July after spending much of quarantine together after a romantic date March 24 at Jordan’s place. He made gluten-free pasta from scratch and threw steaks on the grill. They watched the movie “P.S. I Love You” and shared a kiss less than two hours after meeting in person for the first time.
Dawoon Kang, co-founder of another popular dating app, Coffee Meets Bagel, said the company’s “slow dating” approach, in contrast to endless swiping, seems to appeal to users during the pandemic. The bulk of the app’s users are between 25 and 39 years old.
“We’re seeing an all-time chat rate,” Kang said. “In mid-March, after the lockdowns, 90% plus of our daters told us they had completely stopped going on dates in person.”
“Now, people are actually starting to meet up in person, but they’re taking longer and being more selective since there’s more at risk,” she said.