Online dating surges: How coronavirus will change your dates

Dating experts are weighing in on protocol amid coronavirus concerns. Photo: Getty Images

People around the world are grappling with changes to daily life since the coronavirus outbreak, which has introduced the concept of social distancing and even placed people under quarantine.

Still, singles everywhere are swiping on dating apps for the sake of companionship, conversation and even hopeful romantic connections during this difficult time.

Dating.com has revealed a massive spike in online datings in the wake of the pandemic, with 82% of singles turning to online dating, with only 5% intended to stop dating for the duration of the virus.

With that in mind, dating apps and experts have all rallied with information to keep your dating life active, but safe.

Experts reveal to keep the flame burning

A few new rules will need to be observed to keep love thriving. Photo: Getty images

Julie Spira, an online dating expert and CEO at Cyper-Dating Expert, tells Yahoo Lifestyle that using app’s video and voice call features is the best way to both spark a new relationship, and maintain a developing one, at this time.

“My best recommendation to keep the spark alive is to schedule a video date,” she says.

“This can be done within certain apps such as Bumble or Grindr or you can use FaceTime. Other dating apps have a phone call feature, so scheduling a few phone dates to hear the sound of someone’s voice is an excellent way of taking the slow dating approach during the uncertain times of the coronavirus.”

Before taking that relationship off-screen and meeting in-person, Spira suggests confronting the elephant in the room – bring up the coronavirus in conversation in order to ease the tension surrounding the topic.

However, Los Angeles-based dating coach Kimberly Seltzer notes that it shouldn’t be used as a way to kick-start the conversation.

“It’s not something to use to ‘pick up’ someone but rather as something that can join people together,” Seltzer tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “It’s good to make more authentic connections with meaningful conversations, but certainly not something to lead with or make fun of as ‘a line’ upon first impression. People are already nervous and stressed.”

Still, jokes about love in the time of the coronavirus are all over Twitter, where people have poked fun of the decline of dating apps.

A spokesperson for Hinge, however, says that the app has yet to see irregular user activity as a result of the coronavirus outbreak. For those still using the app to set up dates, the company does suggest practising good hygiene.

Spira adds that it’s a good idea to bring hand sanitizer with you to a date, and use it in a practical manner.

“A date should bring hand sanitizer with them if they have it, and actually offer some to their date, or take breaks to wash your hands,” she says.

Dating under social distancing protocol will call for some change. Photo: Getty Images

Elaine Swann, a lifestyle and etiquette expert, assures Yahoo Lifestyle that promoting proper hygiene practices as a group activity is a good way to appropriately approach it.

“So including that person in your efforts to practise good hygiene is a good thing,” Swann says, before offering an alternative for anybody who might be faced with a refusal to the offer.

“Perhaps that’s when you want to cut that date short.”

At the beginning and end of the date, Spira explains that there will be “fist bumps instead of hugs” and “winks instead of first kisses,” which will likely result in a slower dating and courting process altogether.

All three experts agree, however, that this isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

“This inherently may force everyone to pace interactions out and see if there can be more engaged conversations before meeting in person,” Seltzer says.

Swann adds, “It’s forcing us to communicate effectively and it’s an unfortunate circumstance but hopefully, in the end, we will really be able to increase our social skills.”

Dating apps offer hygiene advice

Tinder interrupted users' swiping with a PSA about the coronavirus. Photo: Tinder

Meanwhile, those who use Tinder have been served with a reminder to be cautious.

“Tinder is a great place to meet new people,” the in-app notice read, popping up as users were swiping. “While we want you to continue to have fun, protecting yourself from the coronavirus is more important.”

The information card delivered tips to wash hands frequently, carry hand sanitizers, avoid touching your face and even to maintain social distance, with an additional link to the World Health Organization for more information.

A Bumble representative says the company is deferring to medical experts at WHO for guidelines to meeting people in public during this time.

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