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How the world of digital dating transformed during the pandemic

When news began emerging about a mysterious infection affecting the citizens of WuhanCity, China in December 2019, few of us imagined the far-reaching consequences. Mask-wearing, social distancing, lockdowns, and inoculation programs are now part of the everyday language across every country. The extreme measures taken to restrict socializing have particularly affected singles. Without access to traditional meeting places, like social clubs, nightspots or bars, more and more people have been turning to digital solutions. How has online dating been affected by Covid?

‘Minority’ dating

Gay people, and other socially marginalized groups have long been excluded from many of the socializing outlets enjoyed by the rest of the population. But the advent of digital dating has provided a haven where anyone can enjoy interaction with members of LGBTQ community. With more and more nuanced matchmaking services being launched, the upwards trend of membership for these sites was rising long before the pandemic. There is every indication those who enjoy, say a gay singles dating site for its social aspect will continue widening their friendship circle by utilizing the convenience of going online.

The community spirit has grown

Singles have always gravitated to online resources because they present a platform for interacting with prospective partners. The pandemic has made so many reassess their priorities so that not everyone is so fixated on the romantic angle. A lot of websites are also about disseminating information. Anyone seeking advice on a variety of issues, not necessarily directly relating to relationships or love, can tap into a knowledge base. Recent events will be weighing heavily, and if any users have concerns about how Covid is going to be affecting everyone going forward, they can easily broach these subjects in chat rooms or forums, or by checking out the backlog of blog posts.

Singles are delving into people’s backgrounds

Pre-Covid, many websites were focusing on the casual end of the relationship spectrum, offering the most streamlined ways for singles to get acquainted. Months of social isolation, followed by tentative steps towards society returning to normal have instilled a sense of wariness. Rather than initiating ‘no strings attached’ encounters with virtual strangers based on no other criteria than they’re up for this, or happen to live in proximity, site users are taking more time to build character profiles. Where they would once have been wary about someone’s sexual health now the overriding concern will be a potential partner’s Covid history. Have they received two jabs? Have they been infected? Do they live in a country where foreign travel is still restricted? Have they been exposed to anti-vaxxer propaganda that might impact the future of your partnership?

Relationships are taking longer to develop

Although the world has developed a cautious approach to returning to the pre-pandemic situation, digital dating is likely to reflect a sense of unease, bordering on mistrust, for some time. Fewer people will be in a great rush to embark on dates in the real world until they have spent considerable time stoking a sense of chemistry with people they would once have been eager to meet much sooner.

Offline dating requires more thought

Online dating services have always represented the ideal platform for singles to connect, but any relationship won’t truly get going until the parties meet in the real world. But this will now mean careful planning. You’ll need to consider everything from how Covid-friendly any location is, to what steps you’ll need to take if you are going to utilize public transport to get there.

Christopher Stern

Christopher Stern is a Washington-based reporter. Chris spent many years covering tech policy as a business reporter for renowned publications. He has extensive experience covering Congress, the Federal Communications Commission, and the Federal Trade Commissions. He is a graduate of Middlebury College. Email:[email protected]

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