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How the Pandemic has Changed Dating Culture

Written by Taly Matiteyahu, CEO of Blink

Before the pandemic, a standard relationship for people under 30 years old involved meeting on an app, through a friend, or during day-to-day life. After dating casually for a few months, the couple would have a conversation to “define the relationship” and potentially make it official. But, as with most aspects of day-to-day life, the pandemic has changed this pattern. While some of the changes to the dating process may be temporary, some are here to stay.

Nearly 50% of people between 18 and 29 use dating apps.[1] Despite prevalent use, many app users feel the online dating process is superficial and that it’s hard to make deep connections. It’s common for app matches to go unexplored (less than 10% of swipe app matches are consummated with a message[2]), text conversations to fizzle out, and people to ghost or be ghosted. Part of this is a result of the instant and addictive gratification people feel when matching on dating apps. Another part of it is the fact that online dating is a low investment prospect and people have a sense that “the grass is always greener” elsewhere – why focus on a single connection when there are a dozen, potentially-better ones to be had? 

The pandemic has changed the dating scene and broken some patterns that have developed around online dating and dating apps, in some ways for the better. Given the greater difficulty of meeting people in person and the added complications around becoming intimate, the pandemic has forced people to spend more time getting to know one another and have more serious conversations earlier on. With the prospect of a real life date requiring a lot more thought (“Outdoor only? Masks on the entire time? Can we have any physical contact? Can I invite them over if the date goes well?”), people are forced to be more mindful about dating from the very beginning.

With the added complications of an in-person date, many people have turned to virtual dates to kick things off. While not a replacement for a real life date, virtual dating provides the opportunity to get a sense of chemistry and connection in a way that texting cannot – after all, how many times have we had text chemistry with someone only to later discover that we can’t even carry a conversation in person? During a virtual date, you can hear tone of voice, discern sense of humor, and get a sense of whether you might be compatible. The best part? If you don’t have a good time, it won’t feel like you wasted an evening and potentially money in the process.

Most people will have several virtual dates before deciding to meet in person. This has extended the “getting to know you” process that previously would have started during the first in-person date, usually in the wake of surface-level text conversations and/or date coordination. This has contributed to what’s called the “slow love” trend, during which deeper attachments grow. By the time a match reaches an in-person date, there is a degree of intentionality, an existing connection, and a larger sense of investment. The daters have already spoken several times and have discussed the logistics of a COVID-safe date to ensure they feel comfortable. The date itself feels more significant and the time invested is more valuable.

If there is a continued connection after the in-person date, daters tend to jump into committed relationships faster than pre-pandemic days. Lockdowns and social isolation have made many feel lonely and interested in making a relationship work. Furthermore, without distractions like commuting, hanging out with friends, and family events, people are able to spend more time focusing on and evaluating prospective partners, speeding up the early relationship stage. 

As distribution of vaccines begins worldwide, there is a sense that things will “go back to normal.” In the case of dating, people will one day return to going out for coffee or grabbing drinks, catching a movie or getting dinner, but due to their convenience and ease, virtual dates are one new pandemic paradigm that are here to stay. They allow people to get to know one another and filter matches in a more time-efficient, wallet-friendly way. They also add a layer of safety and security into the online dating process. While this may mean fewer in-person dates, it does mean those dates will be more intentional, appreciated, and successful.

[1] Anderson, Monica, et al. “The Virtues and Downsides of Online Dating.” Pew Research Center: Internet, Science & Tech, Pew Research Center, 6 Feb. 2020, www.pewresearch.org/internet/2020/02/06/the-virtues-and-downsides-of-online-dating/.

[2] Page, Ken. “Swipe Circuitry: How Online Dating Trains Us To Stay Single [EP093].” Deeper Dating Podcast, 20 Nov. 2020, deeperdatingpodcast.com/swipe-circuitry-how-online-dating-trains-us-to-stay-single-ep093/.


  • Posted February 6, 2021 8:06 am
    by HD

    Fascinating topic. Very interested to see what dating patterns permanently change coming out of the pandemic. I agree with the benefits outlined regarding virtual dating, but wonder if things revert back to path of least resistance (swiping, ghosting, etc) when “normal” returns. Hopefully you’re right that intentional, “slow love” is here to stay!

    • Posted February 15, 2021 9:49 am
      by Taly Matiteyahu

      It’s definitely possible folks will go back to the path of least resistance, but fingers crossed some of the positive changes stick around!

  • Posted February 6, 2021 3:43 am
    by Gillad

    Well said. Good luck to all those out there.

  • Posted February 5, 2021 4:52 pm
    by Hana Matiteyahu

    COVID -19 has changed the world completely. People learned to adapt and live with all the limitation we encounter.
    Some examples: schooling moved to zoom teaching, work places moved to remote work, doctor visit became telemedicine and Dating became to take place virtually etc…..
    All those changes are here to stay with us, even after the pandemic will be over.
    I believe the new dating app is The Future of Dating!
    Good Luck, Taly.

    • Posted February 6, 2021 1:48 pm
      by Taly Matiteyahu

      Yes! COVID has changed so many parts of daily life. And I have to admit – I love not having to go to my doctor’s office and sit in the waiting room for an hour for a quick consult! I hope some of these changes are here to stay!

  • Posted February 5, 2021 11:31 am
    by Sallie

    Wow – I can definitely relate to everything in this article, especially creating a strong connection over text, getting SO excited to meet in person, finally making it happen…and then…crickets…agreed, virtual dating is here to stay and I believe it will help people make more long lasting, real connections.

    • Posted February 6, 2021 1:49 pm
      by Taly Matiteyahu

      Ugh text chemistry is sooo misleading sometimes! Fingers crossed for more mindful and successful and FUN dating moving forward!

  • Posted February 5, 2021 5:40 am
    by Greg Beck

    As more and more people work from home, and technology continues to evolve, interacting with people virtually is being normalized (as it should!) So virtual dates just make sense.

    • Posted February 6, 2021 1:50 pm
      by Taly Matiteyahu

      Yes! I do wonder if people will forget the virtual interactions of 2020 & 2021 in ~10 years… but who knows what other things the world will have in store for us, so I’ll try not to get ahead of myself!

  • Posted February 5, 2021 5:06 am
    by Tracy

    This is something that many of my friends have experienced: having serious conversations early on about boundaries and protocols.

    • Posted February 6, 2021 1:51 pm
      by Taly Matiteyahu

      I hope it helped them find out if they’re on the same page as the person they’re talking to more efficiently than otherwise!

  • Posted February 4, 2021 11:22 pm
    by Stefanie Gordon

    Very interesting! I remember having text chemistry but no actual chemistry. Very cool that virtual dating can help solve that problem.

    • Posted February 6, 2021 1:52 pm
      by Taly Matiteyahu

      Yes! That text chemistry can be super misleading. While phone/video chemistry isn’t the same as in-person chemistry, it’s a lot closer and a lot more efficient to suss out!

  • Posted February 4, 2021 3:41 pm
    by Douglas Pickard

    Very persuasive article – congrats! I think virtual dating is here to stay and I hope you will make it a great!

    • Posted February 6, 2021 1:45 pm
      by Taly

      Working hard to make it happen!

  • Posted February 4, 2021 3:40 pm
    by Catherine C

    Life has had to adapt to the new normal, and the reality is we aren’t going back to exactly how things were. Virtual dating is not only a temporary solution but a long-lasting improvement.

    • Posted February 6, 2021 1:46 pm
      by Taly Matiteyahu

      Yes! It will help folks get to know one another more slowly and deliberately!

  • Posted February 4, 2021 3:37 pm
    by Nadia

    I miss the spontaneity of meeting someone and jumping right in, but “slow love” definitely has its benefits!

    • Posted February 6, 2021 1:46 pm
      by Taly Matiteyahu

      It can still happen! It’s just a lot harder unfortunately.

  • Posted February 1, 2021 1:24 pm
    by Taly Matiteyahu

    While dating during the pandemic has been hard, I hope the positive changes it’s enabled are here to stay!

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