Lockdown had the potential to be disastrous for online dating sites (opens in new tab), with singles potentially facing months in isolation before being able to go on dates. However, with many suddenly facing more time on their hands, and the need for meaningful connections more important than ever, the industry has seen a huge rise in matches and messages due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Today, dating site OkCupid (opens in new tab) announced that it has been experiencing increased usage of between 30-40% in some parts of the world. Polling over 70,000 users (opens in new tab), OkCupid found that a 94% of respondents said they’ll continue to date throughout the coronavirus crisis, albeit virtually.
Online dating is adapting to stay-at-home restrictions
To meet the sustained popularity of online dating during these times, sites such as eHarmony (opens in new tab) are rolling out new ways to date, from the comfort of your home.
A new 'Video Date' feature from eHarmony lets users find connections while staying safe and indoors. The on-platform feature is designed to also make users feel secure, as no exchange in personal information, such as email address or phone numbers, is needed. Users can also video date on all app, mobile web and desktop versions of eHarmony.
The new launch comes as eHarmony has experienced 'a 27% increase in messages in April compared to March', and the site thinks that the key factor at play is stay-at-home restrictions.
eHarmony is not the only site to launch in-app video calling. Match.com (opens in new tab) has also launched a 'Vibe Check' video calling function, which 'allows singles to safely chat with each other before deciding whether to exchange phone numbers.'
After research recently revealed (opens in new tab) that 53% of women think online dating is not a safe way to meet someone, the emphasis on safe and secure video dates is a welcome one.
Match CEO Hesam Hosseini commented (opens in new tab) that video dating could be a lasting trend. "We ran a survey and, during COVID-19, we found that almost 70% of singles are now interested in trying video, which is what led us to launch Vibe Check on Match."
"Singles, probably more than anyone, are feeling isolated as they stay at home. I think the dating industry, and Match, have a pretty important role to play as apps or tools that can connect you to people you don’t know. We can play a role in making singles feel less isolated."
Research shows the key to successful video dates
In a poll of 75,000 users, OkCupid has done its research on the best quarantine date activities, to make your date as successful (or, at least, not awkward) as possible.
The site found that:
- 31% prefer to do some shared activity, like a game
- 29% want to have dinner or drinks
- 25% prefer to keep it simple with a video chat
- 15% want to watch a movie or TV show together
It's also broken this down by gender, revealing that men are more likely to prefer dinner and drinks, whereas a woman's ideal date involves a shared activity. Our suggestion? A shared activity, such as online chess (opens in new tab), over some drinks to ease the nerves.
Although there are some obvious drawbacks to virtual dating, there are also some perks. Taking things at a slower pace and getting to know one another before meeting in person allows users to avoid awkward encounters and even catfishing. 38% of those polled said that virtual dating is 'less pressure', and 37% find that it's a great way to get to know each other better. Although it would have been our top pick (a first date in sweatpants? Yes please.) getting to wear whatever you want ranked third, with 25% of respondents picking it as the best part of virtual dates.