You’ve Zoom wined, dined and Netflix Partied your way through Hinge’s most compatible line-up, and Insta-flirted with that guy whose window you can see from yours. Lockdown isn’t showing signs of letting up, so now what? Tonight, Bumble is launching a weekly Instagram Live-dating show hosted by Radio 1 star Clara Amfo to discuss all your video-dating trials and tribulations with celebrity guests and, crucially, answer your questions. From swipe tourism to video encounters post-quarantine, this is a guide to lockdown dating.
Outsource your quaran-dating qualms
“It’s going to be like one big WhatsApp group chat,” says Amfo, 35, who describes herself as “happily and constantly single” and has spent the last month swapping saucy FaceTime tales with single friends from her flat in Hackney. She wants her show to provide the same service for the nation: you may be the only singleton on your group chat but that doesn’t mean you can’t outsource your quarantine queries, she insists. What to wear to a Zoom first date? Slide into Amfo’s DMs during the show. What to do if he virtually ghosts you? Put it to the experts. Each week, Amfo will be joined by sex and relationship podcast duo Come Curious, plus a celebrity guest. Tonight, presenting queen Maya Jama will be talking socially-distanced single life, and next week Love Island contestant Ovie Soko takes to the hot-seat. “He’s a guy that’s definitely in touch with his natural empathy and isn’t afraid to show that softer side,” explains Amfo, saying she’s keen to cover a diverse mix of genders and sexualities on the show. The best part? Amfo will be asking viewers’ questions so you can be as embarrassing as you like.
Watch and learn
Amfo’s show isn’t the only learning tool for lockdown love: Bumble and Buzzfeed recently teamed up to host a YouTube series of strangers video-dating for the first time, while blogger Urszula Makowska (aka @urszulala) is putting herself through the ultimate lockdown social experiment: live-streaming a blind date on Instagram every Sunday. “My friends swipe on my Hinge account, then set us both up with permission to meet for a first date on my Instagram Live. I don’t know the date’s name, what he looks like or really anything about him.” One way to learn from others’ mistakes.
Embrace social distancing
When you’ve exhausted potential love interests in your postcode, look beyond. “Right now, people are looking to connect with anyone,” says Bumble marketing director Naomi Walkland on the company’s decision to widen its connection pool amid the lockdown. The app now offers users the chance to open their distance filter from 50 miles to nationwide, while Tinder has introduced a free passport feature so you can swipe globally. “If you connect, you connect,” no matter where you are, says Amfo. “If it doesn’t end up being full-blown romance, you’ve made a friend in a new city so at least you know you’ve got a tour guide.”
Mix it up
You’ve toured virtual museums, giggled through Zoom stand-ups and made Stanley Tucci’s Negronis together — what now? Miss nights at Plonk Golf? Try a mini-golf date on your staircase with the venue’s #plonkathome challenge (it’s for charity). Fancy your own Love Is Blind experiment? Turn off your webcam and try the New York Times’s “36 questions that lead to love” quiz together. Or create your own film club, says Amfo, whose single friends have been swapping movie recommendations with their dates and setting up late-night debriefs. She’s even heard of singles going on virtual train rides together through foreign cities.
Love after lockdown
Yes, you’re flirting about what you’ll get up to once lockdown has lifted, but it could be months before pubs and restaurants reopen. So could video dating become the new normal? Walkland thinks so. She predicts a rise of video “pre-dates”: “Users choosing to use video or voice calling as a way to get to know their dates before meeting in real life”. It’ll spare you a Tube fare for a start.
Watch Virtual Dating Dial In at 7.30pm tonight on Instagram Live (@claraamfo)
Sum of love
- 26% increase in messages on Bumble’s dating platform since lockdown
- 56% of singles continuing to date (remotely) during lockdown, according to Plenty of Fish
- 21 average length of a video date in minutes, according to Bumble
- 100,000 Bumble users who mention they are quarantining in their profile
- 64% of Bumble users whose ideal virtual date is chatting over a drink