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Love in the time of Corona (virus)

Posted by Anna Ouseley-Giraldo on 24th March 2020

Dating has definitely evolved over the years and has gone from one extreme to another. Back in the 1800s, one would have to be courted — for those that need reminding, that was when a young man would seek the affections of a young woman, usually with the hopes of marrying her. In the 21st century, this is now called Tinder.

Tech and dating currently seem to go hand in hand, which is to be expected, with 82% of singles turning to dating apps. In recent years we’ve seen the rise of apps like Hinge, Bumble, Tinder and Plenty of Fish all boasting huge success stories as people swipe left, right, up, down until they find their love at first tap.

However, are these apps at a sudden peril as the UK is plunged into dating darkness and times of uncertainty? How will app-arranged love blossom if the nearest Wetherspoon’s is closed?

Here’s one example of what NOT to do. Apps like The One in Iceland are an example of tech gone mad. Users will now be asked to specify their coronavirus status, choosing from the options: I have it, I have had it, I’m in quarantine and I haven’t had it. The app will then match users based on this information, and while it makes sense to keep people updated during a time of panic and reduce the risk of dating amid the pandemic, surely this is too far.

This being said, is social distancing the UK’s chance of finding real love? Contestants on Love Is Blind (if you know, you know) proposed to each other after a couple of short weeks — with no prior kissing, hugging or physical contact needed. And yes, we don’t have pods lying around with a handsome person on the other side, but this could be an opportunity for us to turn to technology to establish emotional connection before a physical one.

This non-physical approach to dating allows people to focus on getting to know someone without the pressure and ramifications of acting on it (physically). It is also condoned by Maria Sullivan, dating expert and VP of Dating.com, who says singles should “solely get to know each other by asking questions about themselves, their family, their hobbies, etc. This allows both parties to connect due to similarities in each other’s lives and not on physical looks or lust.”

Not that virtual dating hasn’t tried and failed before (we all remember the iconic scene in He’s Just Not That Into You where Drew Barrymore is serenaded by the guy on MySpace), but how would we do it today? Apps like Zoom or Skype could easily work for a virtual dating setup. No corona disclaimers needed. Zoom even has a 40-minute end time (if it’s the free version) so you have an end in sight if it gets too awkward.

It’s also a great opportunity to see how potential partners behave under very stressful situations. “People have lost money. Businesses have been shaken. They’re going stir crazy due to cabin fever,” says Nancy Ruth Deen, breakup coach at hellobreakup.

“If you can see how someone reacts under these circumstances right at the beginning of your blossoming romance, It’ll give you good insight into how they handle unexpected life challenges,” she adds.

From virtual dates with wine vouchers to Skype love songs, the possibilities to virtual dating during the pandemic are endless. Will love in the time of corona know no bounds?

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