Social Distancing and the World of Online Dating | #tinder | #pof

Online dating has become increasingly popular in the past few years, with accessible Smartphone apps like Tinder and Bumble making it easier to meet new people, find hook-ups, and create long-lasting relationships.   

As of 2019, there were 30.4 million people in the U.S. using online dating services, with 25.1 million utilizing Smartphone dating apps. With the global pandemic bringing social distancing and isolation, how are people faring in the online dating world?   

Tinder, which has about 7.86 million U.S. users, is encouraging its users not to meet up with their matches. Upon opening the app, an announcement welcomes users, stating, “Social distancing doesn’t have to mean disconnecting. We hope to be a place for connection during this challenging time, but it’s important to stress that now is not the time to meet in real life with your match. Please keep things here for now.”   

To further urge their users to keep things online, Tinder made their Passport feature temporarily free, allowing users to match with people from a city of their choosing without paying the standard subscription fee.   

On March 30, Tinder received the highest number of swipes ever recorded worldwise at 3 billion.  

Hinge, another popular dating app with more than 4.2 million downloads, has employed a new feature called Dating From Home, which allows matched users to set up video chats with one another. More and more online dating services are making similar features available.   

In a message to users, the app said, “With 70% of Hinge users expressing interest in going on digital dates, we’re encouraging our community to ‘date from home’ using phone calls and video chats to build connections.” 

OkCupid has reported a 900 percent increase in mentions of the keywords “coronavirus” and “social distancing” on their users’ profiles between February and March. Additionally, OkCupid has experienced a 10 percent increase in matches and a 20 percent increase in conversations. In late March, OkCupid also reported a 5 percent increase in users looking for long-term relationships and a 20 percent decrease in people looking for hookups.   

One Corvallis resident has been utilizing Match. She explains that before the pandemic started, she never really checked Match. While social distancing, she has been getting dozens more notifications for people liking her profile or messaging her, sometimes up to 20 a day.   

“I am single, openly gay, and have been living in Corvallis since October of 2018. I’ve had more propositions since the end of March than I ever did before that. I think people are just really bored right now,” says another Corvallisite, Jason Rodriguez.  

Another local Corvallisite, Jess (last name withheld), started using a dating app before social isolation measures began. She says, “One person I seem to be hitting it off with, but we haven’t been able to meet in person yet… It’s honestly really upsetting to have these restrictions, but I know why they are in place.”  

One other Corvallis resident with an underlying health problem, who wishes to remain annonymous, tells their story: “Since the lockdown started I’ve been using [Tinder] way more often and having actual conversations which before I’d typically not respond [to] because I’m just a nervous person in general. One thing that’s stuck out to me has been the amount of people asking to hang out or go on picnics while remaining 6 feet apart which is disappointing. When I tell them that I have an underlying health problem and I have to be extra careful, sometimes they don’t even respond. Tells you a lot about a person.”  

By Cara Nixon 

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