Coronavirus pandemic spurs heavy use of online dating apps

There are not a whole lot of first dates happening right now due to the coronavirus pandemic. There’s nowhere someone looking for a potential match can really go that is conducive to a first date — and with social distancing what it is, what stranger are you going to intentionally get a bit close to anyway?

But all this sitting around at home and distancing one’s self socially is leading to an increase in at least some level of loneliness. That’s where technology is stepping in — where local dive bars or friends of friends no longer can.

Multiple dating apps have said they’re seeing a boost in activity through the first few weeks of stay at home orders as a result of the global pandemic.

Both Bumble and Tinder said that by the end of March there were substantially more users sending messages back and forth, and engaging in longer conversations on the apps, than they were even during the beginning and middle of March.

Apps that allow for video and voice chats are seeing even bigger increases.

“We truly believe that video is the best way of dating from an upstart perspective,” said Zach Schleien, one of the co-founders of the dating app Filter Off, which combines live video chats with speed dating to pair singles together.

In the last two weeks, he said, the number of users on that platform have doubled.

“With this pandemic, it’s kind of just played into how the app works, and it’s really taken off,” said Schleien.

By the end of March there was an 84% increase in the number of voice calls and video chats on Bumble, a representative of that platform said.

On average, calls and chats on Bumble lasted almost 30 minutes, which “only further validates that when physical connection is limited humans will seek out other means to interact and engage,” according to a Bumble statement.

Tinder, which typically limits profiles to localized areas, has loosened restrictions so users can engage with someone in other parts of the United States —  or even the world — without paying additional fees.

It said Sunday, March 29, was the single busiest day in terms of “swipe” the app has ever seen, with more than 3 billion profiles swiped left or right.

“As more and more people are looking for ways to combat isolation and loneliness,” a Bumble representative said, dating apps are likely to keep getting busier during this time of self-isolation and social distancing.

John Domen

John started working at WTOP in 2016 after having grown up in Maryland listening to the station as a child. While he got his on-air start at small stations in Pennsylvania and Delaware, he's spent most of his career in the D.C. area, having been heard on several local stations before coming to WTOP.

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