5 ways dating might change after social distancing

What does love look like after lockdown?

From living-room workouts out with Joe Wicks to Zoom birthday parties, a lot has changed during lockdown. But it’ll take more than a pandemic to keep us from love, so we’ve figured out new ways of dating from a distance.

From video calls to voice notes, digital dating is going well. But what will happen when the world returns to some version of normal? Will we want to go back to slotting awkward drinks into our already-bulging diaries, or will we stick to socially distanced dating?

To find out, we asked the experts.

1. Video is here to stay

We never thought we’d say this, but video dates could be the way to our hearts. Bumble has seen video calls on the app increase by 42%* and, thanks to their convenience, we don’t see them stopping any time soon.

“One of the biggest gripes from singles is that they invest too much time, energy and money into dating and feel fatigued,” says international matchmaker and dating expert Sarah Louise Ryan. “Juggling life, especially in a big city, with the search for a partner can be tough. Singles swing between FOMO – because the next match may be the right match – and dating burnout.”

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2. The vetting process just got easier

While video dates may not replace first dates, they could become an interim step to figuring out whether you and your match have chemistry. Dating coach Benjamin Daly says: “By having a ‘pre-date’, you avoid pouring unnecessary time and energy into someone if it’s clear you don’t click. Video dates will become the new way of filtering out time-wasters and those who only date for entertainment.”

Video calls can act as a form of security, too, adds Chris Pleines, founder of DatingScout.co.uk. “If your online match is willing to video chat before you meet, you can rest easy knowing they are who they say they are.”

Thanks to the in-app video calling feature on Bumble, your phone won’t be clogged up with contacts like “Jack Bumble” either, and you don’t need to give out your number until you’re comfortable.

3. IRL > URL

As much as you can get to know someone virtually, meeting IRL to test that physical chemistry is still important says mind coach and TV presenter, Anna Williamson. “There is so much to gain from seeing someone in person,” Anna says.

4. Getting physical might be slower

In the first few weeks after lockdown, we’ll be worried about getting too close to strangers, predicts matchmaker April Ashby. “There’s still going to be paranoia about kissing someone you don’t know,” she says. “Hugging or even sitting close to someone will feel uncertain.

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But this physical distance might be a welcome relief for some daters. Life coach and author Carrie Brooks says: “Sometimes when dating, we can feel pressure to get intimate before we’re actually ready. Now, we can wait for that deeper connection without having to worry.”

5. Flings will become far and few

We may not have been able to meet our Mr, Ms or Mx Right physically over the past few months, but we might actually be making deeper connections thanks to lockdown.

“Right now people are taking dating far more seriously,” says Sarah Louise Ryan. “People have become aware of how precious life and time is, so are investing their energy in more authentic, connected conversations.”

Bumble associate director Naomi Walkland adds: “We’re seeing higher quality chats and a significant spike in video calling. We imagine that this is something our users won’t be quick to abandon post-lockdown, and more people will start using video/voice calling as a way to get to know their date before meeting IRL.”

Love after lockdown? Not looking too bad.

by ISABELLA SILVERS

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