For single Australians looking for love, social distancing and self-isolating rules have drastically altered the dating scene.
Instead of getting drinks at a bar, going for a walk in the park or meeting up for coffee, they’ve had to keep it to sending flirty texts and arranging virtual dates.
“There’s so many awesome things about having a first date by video chat,” says Carissa Bennett, a women’s mentor and life coach from Melbourne. “For starters, you can wear your pyjama pants and do it from the comfort of your own couch.”
With the exception of a recent six-month relationship, Carissa has been single and “on the apps” for the past seven years. When the coronavirus restrictions were announced, she had a moment of panic.
“The part of me that’s been single for years doesn’t care, and the other part of me is 34 years old and really would like to meet somebody.”
So, Carissa is still on the apps — and she’s not alone.
As many as 70 per cent of users on the Hinge dating app have expressed interest in going on digital dates during the pandemic, according to a spokesperson.
The company is encouraging people to “date from home” using phone calls and video chats, and have even provided backgrounds to help Zoom dates feel like real dates.
A Bumble representative says that globally there has already been a significant rise in the numbers of messages (by 23 per cent) and in-app video calls (by 31 per cent) between users since mid-March.
More Tinder users are beginning to mention the coronavirus pandemic in their bios. The app has made their Passport feature available to all members, allowing users to meet anyone, anywhere in the world, and connect in this time of isolation.
The unexpected dating benefit of coronavirus
People on the apps are also using the pandemic as a conversation starter.
“Because of what’s going on in the world right now, we’re so deeply connected by this situation that’s happening and we instantly have something in common to talk about,” Carissa says. “Very quickly you learn their political views, are they a pessimist or an optimist, are they open-minded.”
Carissa matched with someone on Bumble who works at a major Australian bank, and who did not think that banks should be supporting businesses that were struggling because of the shutdowns.
“His perspective on what was happening was so different to mine, and I would never be interested in dating someone with that perspective,” she says.
Another person she met on an app about a year go — and went on “a really amazing date” with — recently reached out again to see how she was faring during the pandemic.
Carissa suggested a video date, and he said yes.
Because they live in different states — she’s in Victoria, he’s in Queensland — they had kept in touch by text, and they couldn’t believe that “neither of us had thought about a virtual date before.”
“I think we will probably talk and maybe have a wine,” she says.
Dr Maria Scoda, a clinical psychologist who specialises in relationship counselling, says virtual dating may provide an opportunity for people to take things slow and get to know each other on a deeper level.
For people who are genuinely interested in developing a connection with someone, Dr Scoda suggests creating parallel dating scenarios within the home like having dinner, playing a board game, or watching a movie together while on a video call.
“Even just talking about the mundane things together, describing your day or week, that’s part of a normal relationship,” she says.
Does ‘virtual love’ work in real life?
The “big unknown” is whether a relationship built in the virtual world will translate in real life, Dr Scoda warns.
“Once they meet in person, everything they’ve created may fall flat,” she says. “I know people don’t want to hear that, but it’s a possible reality.”
May*, a 31-year-old musician from Melbourne started chatting to a woman on the dating app Raya a week ago, and they’ve already gone on three virtual dates.
“We’re always texting and calling,” May says. “It’s offering companionship and it’s adding value to my isolation.”
For their first video call, May decided to lay down in a local park and talk to her. They spoke for an hour.
“The time actually flew past, she says, “I almost forgot that I was just lying there completely on my own.”
They talk about everything from what they did that day, to dreaming up things they want to do together in the future.
Source, see more>: ABC