People around the world are grappling with changes to daily life since the coronavirus outbreak, which has introduced the concept of social distancing and even placed people under quarantine. Still, singles everywhere are swiping on dating apps for the sake of companionship, conversation and even hopeful romantic connections during this difficult time.
Meanwhile, those who use Tinder have been served with a reminder to be cautious.
“Tinder is a great place to meet new people,” the in-app notice read, popping up as users were swiping. “While we want you to continue to have fun, protecting yourself from the coronavirus is more important.”
The information card delivered tips to wash hands frequently, carry hand sanitizers, avoid touching your face and even to maintain social distance, with an additional link to the World Health Organization (WHO) for more information. While people will continue to use the app for in-person meetings and dates with new people, however, a Tinder spokesperson tells Yahoo Lifestyle that it made the most sense to directly serve those users with a helpful reminder and reliable information.
Other dating apps are taking similar routes. A Bumble representative shares that the company is deferring to medical experts, both at WHO and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), who have provided detailed guidelines for meeting people in public during this time. And although the company has chosen not to inundate users with more information about the virus, the app provides an alternative for people to stay connected with features like voice and video calling.
Julie Spira, an online dating expert and CEO at Cyper-Dating Expert, tells Yahoo Lifestyle that these calling features might be the best way to both spark a new relationship, and maintain a developing one, at this time.
“My best recommendation to keep the spark alive is to schedule a video date. This can be done within certain apps such as Bumble or Grindr or you can use FaceTime.” Spira says. “Other dating apps have a phone call feature, so scheduling a few phone dates to hear the sound of someone’s voice is an excellent way of taking the slow dating approach during the uncertain times of the coronavirus.”
Before taking that relationship off-screen and meeting in-person, Spira suggests that it is OK to bring the coronavirus into conversation in order to ease the tension surrounding the topic. However, Los Angeles-based dating coach Kimberly Seltzer notes that it shouldn’t be used as a way into conversation.
“It’s not something to use to ‘pick up’ someone but rather as something that can join people together,” Seltzer tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “It’s good to make more authentic connections with meaningful conversations, but certainly not something to lead with or make fun of as ‘a line’ upon first impression. People are already nervous and stressed.”
Still, jokes about love in the time of the coronavirus are all over Twitter, where people have poked fun of the decline of dating apps.
Note to self: Do NOT download dating apps again until Coronavirus pandemic is over
— Mimi C (@lilmeeeezy) March 4, 2020
Updating my dating app bios: all dates postponed until coronavirus infection rates decline
— DB🌹 (@_dabuzon) March 11, 2020
“To help prevent the spread of the coronavirus, please don’t hug, shake hands, or kiss others.”
This virus is out here not only trying to kill me, but my struggling dating life.
— RSS (@theRSSfeeds) March 7, 2020
I’m going to blame the lack of women swiping right for me on dating apps on coronavirus fear. It’s the only thing that makes sense.
— Eric (@EricS504) March 11, 2020
A spokesperson for Hinge, however, says that the app has yet to see irregular user activity as a result of the coronavirus outbreak. For those still using the app to set up dates, the company does suggest practicing good hygiene.
Please wash your hands before you steal your Hinge date's fries.
It’s okay to “share” fries, but not germs 😷
— Hinge (@hinge) March 2, 2020
Spira adds that it’s a good idea to bring hand sanitizer with you to a date, and use it in a practical manner.
“A date should bring hand sanitizer with them if they have it, and actually offer some to their date, or take breaks to wash your hands,” she says. “Taking it further to show up with a mask or wearing gloves just won’t make a great date, so if someone feels they can’t be out without them, they should stay at home and chat via text, or within the dating app.”
Elaine Swann, a lifestyle and etiquette expert, assures Yahoo Lifestyle that promoting proper hygiene practices as a group activity is a good way to appropriately approach it. “So including that person in your efforts to practice good hygiene is a good thing,” Swann says, before offering an alternative for anybody who might be faced with a refusal to the offer. “Perhaps that’s when you want to cut that date short.”
At the beginning and end of the date, Spira explains that there will be “fist bumps instead of hugs” and “winks instead of first kisses,” which will likely result in a slower dating and courting process altogether. All three experts agree, however, that this isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
“This inherently may force everyone to pace interactions out and see if there can be more engaged conversations before meeting in person,” Seltzer says.
Swann adds, “It’s forcing us to communicate effectively and it’s an unfortunate circumstance, but hopefully in the end we will really be able to increase our social skills.”
For the latest news on the evolving coronavirus outbreak, follow along here. According to experts, people over 60 and those who are immunocompromised continue to be the most at risk. If you have questions, please reference the CDC and WHO’s resource guides.
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