In A time Of Social Distancing, Dating Apps Present A Solution

When Tinder issued an in-app public service announcement regarding COVID-19 on March 3 everybody had a little laugh. Although the laughter has subsided, but the question still remains to be answered: How will singles mingle in the time of Corona?

Millennials, trapped under indefinite work-from-home policies and banned from bars, are on dating apps—swiping, texting, flirting—more so than before. Almost all dating apps have reported huge jump in active users.

Tinder witnessed over three billion swipes worldwide on March 29 as countries around the world issued shelter-in-place orders.

OkCupid has seen a worldwide increase in matches of 10% since March, and conversations have increased by over 20%, while Hinge worldwide also saw a 30% increase in messaging on the app in March 2020, and 70% users expressed interest in going on digital dates.

Bumble had a 11% increase in Gen Z registrations in India during the first week of lockdown (till March 27) compared to the week prior.

In a time of spatial distancing, dating apps present a solution – to boredom, for connection – and also a risk.

Social media points to another interesting trend: people are changing their interaction patterns in dating apps, or dating app discussions are becoming corona-centric.

In the US, virtual dating platforms are quickly pivoting to help quarantined singles. Although some of the more traditional dating apps like Hinge and the League have also added video components, these newer platforms present more like parties or networking events. The goal is for people to keep expanding their social circles. After all, this could be the new normal.

Dating apps typically run on a freemium model, providing basic services without charge in the hopes that customers will pay more for extra features, such as unveiling who has swiped right on you or applying more granular filters to narrow the dating pool. As social distancing guidelines are rolled out across the U.S. and Europe, dating apps are betting more people will sign up and pay extra to find love—even if it’s virtual for the time being.

Over 90% of the Indians on online dating platform OkCupid said they would continue dating virtually during the Covid-19 quarantine. Indeed, there has been a 26% spike in conversations on the platform and 12% in matches in the country since March, the second-highest bump globally on both fronts.

Indian millennials already had ideas for how they could convert a regular date into a digital one. Over 40%, of an average 16,000 respondents per question across India, said they were open to coming together online for meals and drinks.

Most Indian users of OkCupid also preferred text messaging over video calling, in line with global trends. “There have been over 50 million intro messages sent across the world on OkCupid over the past month among daters connecting for the first time,” said Ariel Charytan, CEO of OkCupid.

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