The Rise of Online Dating: How the Coronavirus Pandemic Has Driven Romance Online

September 7, 2020
Rising of Online Dating

Coronavirus and Single Life

For millions of single people around the globe, lockdown and furlough regimes have had an enormous impact on the way they live, work and socialise. 

If you don't share your home, can't go to work, aren't able to travel - how do you stop yourself from going mad, when stuck at home 24/7 with yours truly?

The answer, for thousands of those singles, is to get online. 

It might not be the same as popping out for a glass of wine on a Friday night. Still, in our new digital age, online dating is proving its mettle as a service that is flexible enough to pivot in even the most demanding of circumstances. 

  • Tinder reports that conversations have increased in length by 10-30% since the pandemic hit.
  • Bumble recorded a 21% surge in site activity in Seattle in March 2020.
  • 70% of Hinge users have responded positively to a proposal to introduce digital dates.

Nearly everybody has online access, and most of us take it with us wherever we go. Almost 50% of all the people in the world now have a smartphone.

Online dating apps work seamlessly on mobiles and tablets, and even those without a dedicated app have web-optimised sites.

This accessibility removes all the barriers to finding social interaction online, which becomes exponentially valuable when the world feels like a scary place.

Digital Dating and Matchmaking

The reason for this rise? It's quite simple; people have been restricted from interacting with each other. 

Even the most introverted of us need company from time to time. With social distancing not going away any time soon, millions of people have decided to be proactive about their love lives, and indeed their mental health.

And no, chatting online is not the same as a real-life date - but it's the next best thing. 

Quarantine, working from home, and self-isolation has also been a lightning bolt of realisation for people who have a vague desire to 'meet someone special' but haven't ever prioritised romance.

When you're at home for a large proportion of the time, and when you do go out, everybody's face is concealed under a mask, loneliness becomes a stark and self-evident experience.

This means that even social butterflies have become uncomfortably familiar with their single status, and have had more time capacity to be able to address it.

We have the perfect recipe for an online dating revolution:

  • More people are looking online for social interactions.
  • High proportions of the workforce are working from home, or on furlough.
  • There is increased awareness of loneliness and the impact on our mental health.
  • The rise in the perception of single living and the experience of isolation and quarantine.
  • Long-term restrictions on social events, gatherings and travel.
  • More daters realise that COVID isn't a short-term situation, and are taking back control over their love lives.

There is nothing 'wrong' with being single. But, if you do wish to find a relationship, or just fill your evenings with a flirty chat with someone attractive, you'll find the world of opportunity sitting right behind your computer screen.

The Online Dating Pivot

So, we have a surge in demand for online dating, a wider captive audience looking to the web for dating opportunities, and a massive spike in the use of digital communication services such as Zoom, Teams and Skype.

What has the online dating world done to respond? 

As it happens - it was already prepared.

Online dating sites and apps are widely digital-focused and provide slick user experiences designed to make meeting compatible guys and girls a fun way to spend your time.

These sites offer countless games and ways to interact. So when the pandemic hit, they were already primed to provide a solution for single people looking for new ways to connect and find romance.

Features and functions include:

  • Video dating 
  • Live chats and messaging
  • Secure SMS and phone connection services
  • Local search options
  • Flirting games
  • Matchmaking tools
  • Preference filters 

If you visit any one global dating site, you'll see what I mean. 

They are designed to make it easy to chat online and created so that single people from around the world can connect, chat, and perhaps fix up a date - all from the comfort of their own living room. 

Being socially distanced does not mean that you have to be socially isolated, and online dating is the go-to solution when other social interactions are not an option.

Long-term Romance Online

Even before the pandemic hit, online dating has become a mainstream and popular way to meet new people.

There are lots of reasons why this is the dating option of choice for a growing majority of single people:

  • Safety of being able to 'screen' dates and verify they are authentic before meeting them in person.
  • Avoidance of bad first dates or matchmaking experiences by choosing for yourself who you would like to chat to.
  • Faster, more efficient dating with advanced search filters and parameters so you can connect with like-minded, eligible singles.
  • Niche dating sites making it accessible to single people looking for all kinds of romance, dates, or intimacy.

Indeed, a Stanford study last year showed that couples are now more likely to have met through online dating than through any other method.

There is much talk of a 'new normal' - but the online dating revolution has been building for years.

Video dating and live chats are becoming normalised, with virtual features and real-time digital dates catching on as a safer, faster, and just more enjoyable way to date!

For me, personally? 

Nothing beats a romantic dinner date. 

However, suppose that date comes with face masks, hand sanitiser and a two-metre distance. In that case, I'd be far happier sipping my wine at home, and spending my time focusing on flirting and seeing where the connection might lead.

Romance isn't dead, not by a longshot - it is, instead, going digital.

Lauren Edwards-Fowle
Lauren is a freelance writer passionate about how we develop rewarding experiences, and overcoming the barriers we face to living our best lives. Lauren writes regularly about the modern world of dating, relationships, parenthood, and social dynamics.