LONDON (Reuters) – Those looking for love during the COVID-19 pandemic have had to adapt to lockdown dating, but innovations such as video “pre-dates” may end up outliving the coronavirus as restrictions on liaisons are eased.
As many people in England get the green light to sleep over at each other’s houses from this weekend, it will be the first chance for many romances formed in lockdown to become more than just virtual.
But that does not mean dating will go back to how it was before, as some of the coronavirus customs that have taken root look set to persist.
Dating app Bumble is launching a feature where users can badge themselves about how they want to date, be it virtually or socially distanced with a mask.
“One in three Bumble users in the UK still plan on using video calling as a way to get to know someone before meeting them in real life,” Naomi Walkland, associate director for EMEA Marketing at Bumble, told Reuters.
“So we’re almost expecting that ‘pre-dates’ will become the new normal.”
A Bumble survey also found that 55% would seek more meaningful relationships after experiencing loneliness in lockdown.
In England, from Saturday, single adult households will be allowed to form a “support bubble” with one other household and stay the night, which some newspapers took as an end to what they had dubbed a sex ban.
All around the world, single people have been finding ways to carry on dating during COVID-19 lockdowns, with in-app video chats on dating platforms a growing phenomenon.
Adam Wilder, founder of Shhh Dating, a platform where the focus is more on non-verbal flirtation than small talk, said he would continue to use online video calls for events in a post-coronavirus world.
“It’s different – you don’t get to be there in the room with the other person and see what you feel like standing in front of them,” he said, adding that many were still positively surprised by the experience.
“The main feedback we get is ‘that’s a lot better than I thought it would be.’”
Writing by Alistair Smout; editing by Stephen Addison