COVID-19’s Impact on the Dating Industry – What the Experts Say

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected people’s everyday lives in numerous different ways – from how they work, spend their free time, and even how they date.

With multiple lockdowns, social distancing and other isolating measures having been put in place, the romantic lives of people across the globe, alongside the dating industry itself, have faced unprecedented challenges during the past year.

However, while its clear people’s dating habits, and the industry that caters for said habits, have had to adapt significantly during the past year – how exactly has this been done? How specifically has COVID-19 changed the dating industry?

To help us find answers, TechRound enlisted the help of some experts in the dating scene, who have offered up their comments on how the industry has changed in recent times.

 

Our Panel of Experts: 

 

  • Jessica Alderson – Co-founder & CEO of So Syncd
  • Alexander Patall – Dating Expert at Datingroo
  • Johnny Cassell – Founder and CEO of Johnny Cassell – Dating Coach London
  • Dr Jacqui Gabb – Chief Relationships Officer at Paired
  • Hayley QuinnDating coach and founder of Hayley Quinn Dating
  • Michelle Begy – Managing Director and Founder at Ignite Dating
  • Gillian Myhill – Sex and Dating Expert and Founder of BARE Dating
  • Jo Barnett – Dating Coach / Relationship Expert
  • Sanjay Panchal –  Founder of Dating App Elate
  • James Preece – Celebrity Dating Coach & Relationship Expert

 

Jessica Alderson, Co-founder & CEO of So Syncd

 

Jessica-Alderson

 

“Dating during the pandemic has its challenges but there are clear benefits too. Covid-19 has encouraged slower dating. People are taking the time to get to know each other on a deeper level. There is more of a focus on long-term compatibility rather than physical attraction. We launched So Syncd, our personality type dating app, during the pandemic but we’ve already had hundreds of people find love through our app. Connection is a core human need – pandemic or no pandemic.”

 

Alexander Patall, Dating Expert at Datingroo 

 

Alexander-Patall

 

“In the fight to beat COVID-19, social distancing has been one of the main tools. However, this takes away those key components of dating – intimacy, closeness and crucially, sex.”

“For those living apart, online dating and the use of apps such as Tinder have only cemented themselves as dating must-haves in the modern world. For many single people, who may be living alone through the pandemic, the ability to still form connections even if online has proved an important lifeline.”

“What we’re seeing is an acceleration of relationships, for those that were able to date more ‘traditionally’ last summer (when rules were relaxed), there are numerous examples of couples that decided to move in together or form a bubble in order to carry on seeing where their relationship progressed.”

“However, whilst for many the dating scene has accelerated – it has also prolonged the period of formulating a ‘virtual relationship’. With current restrictions preventing household mixing, the initial ‘talking’ online phase for many is where the foundations of these relationships are being built. Intimacy is also changing, couples wanting to engage in sexual activity or prohibited by coronavirus rules, meaning that swapping nudes or having sex over video call is the start of their sexual relationship with each other.”

“Ultimately, many couples are having to take leaps of faith when rules allow them to see if the relationship is going somewhere, and others are returning to more platonic dating styles whilst building a relationship online is the only option for now.”

 

Johnny Cassell, Founder and CEO of Johnny Cassell – Dating Coach London 

 

Johnny-Cassell

 

“The dating scene has moved into a prohibition style era. Although we’re not supposed to be meeting people offline it certainly is going on!”

“With online platforms reporting higher usage than ever there really has been no better time to meet someone for the first time. The user rate is up, the response rate is up and the conversion rate is up.”

“With strict government guidelines and closure of all of the trendiest spots in town, even the people that were too cool for school have found themselves adopting these apps because let’s face it we’re all lonely and we’re all horny.”

“One app that is making waves right now is the app clubhouse. It’s not a dating app of such but rather an audio only that is made up of multiple rooms of sun culture and community.”

 

Dr Jacqui Gabb, Chief Relationships Officer at Paired

 

Dr-Jacqui-Gabb

 

“Prior to the pandemic 32-39% of heterosexual relationships in the UK and US started online, almost doubling the number in previous years, and this number has sharply risen since the first UK lockdown. So there are definitely more people searching online for lockdown love but we should be circumspect before advancing claims to a sea change in the dating scene. It’s important to remember that prior to the pandemic many people used hookup and dating apps while they were out in the real world, swiping right and left amidst a crowded bar, using technology to cut through the crowds and see potential partners.”

“Crowds and bars may now feel like dim and distant memories and dating app habits may have changed how we’re encountering potential partners. A plethora of online social groups have sprung up which bring together like-minded people and from this friendships and romantic attachments are forming.”

“Online dating and the rigours of lockdown have required that couples get to know each other virtually, chatting and exploring potential connections. Communication skills are thus important, perhaps more so than before. Establishing a connection with someone requires that you give something of yourself and listen to the other person.”

“Research on the Paired relationship app has shown that partnerships are strengthened by regularly touching base with a partner as this demonstrates an investment in the relationship project. If remote dating is going well, it’s likely to be that couples are building crucial communication tools that will be invaluable as they move forward and consolidate the relationship.”

“Dating at arm’s reach requires couples to think outside the box and get creative. Flirtatious sexting and fond messaging can build an emotional rapport and spice up intimacy in the absence of a sex life.”

“Zoom dates enable couples to meet up anywhere in the world. A trip to the opera can be shared from the comfort of a living room. Deliveroo date nights have replaced a home cooked meal or dinner out on the town. These changes in dating practices may have a lasting impact and continue well after lockdown is lifted, helping couples to navigate long distance relationships and keep in touch with one another when routines return to normal.”

“Relationships forged online are therefore no less meaningful than those formed in the flesh, through happenstance, and may even be more likely to develop into lasting partnerships. Only time will tell.”

 

Hayley Quinn, Founder of Hayley Quinn Dating 

 

Hayley-Quinn

 

“Every so often there comes along something that changes the dating scene forever. In the early 2010’s dating apps bought us swiping, ghosting and flaking. Now, the latest game changer for dating (& the world at large) has been C19 – It has been a tough 12 months for singles.”
 
“Anyone who set out with the intention that 2020 would be the year to meet someone, suddenly found a major obstacle in the way of their plans. However, it turns out that not even a pandemic could stop people’s desire to connect. Video dating, or ‘zoomancing’, quickly became a dating trend: and this one looks like it’s here to stay with 18% of Match users in a recent survey sighting that they fully intend to keep the video date alive even when the pandemic ends.”
 
“Yes whilst we haven’t been able to skip out the door and onto a last minute date, slow dating has gained popularity and has its benefits. Doing a video call before you meet someone helps to establish if you have the compatibility to warrant an in person date; and I believe the lost art of getting to know someone could be having a renaissance.”
 
“People were also perhaps forced to get more emotionally intimate and real in the conversations they had with prospective dates too. Whilst our former selves may have winced at the idea of bringing up the exclusivity question early on, with people bubbling up and social contact being limited, you had to ask how many other people someone was seeing.”
 

So what’s next?

 
“Well, there is a little optimism in the air. Dating site Match reported January 2021 as being its biggest month on record for sign ups, with the most people joining the site at 10pm on Sunday 3rd of January. It was dubbed ‘Singles Sunday.’ There are even whispers that if the vaccine rollout works as expected that summer 2021 could turn out to be a real summer of love.”

 

Michelle Begy, Managing Director and Founder at Ignite Dating

 

michelle-begy-ignite-dating

 

“Since the pandemic started, we have all experienced a shift in perception and a gratitude for the things that are important to us. The introduction of restrictions on our everyday lives has brought with it a new-found appreciation for companionship, subsequently resulting in a huge influx of people signing up to online dating apps and introduction agencies.”

“In recent years, our lives have become all about instant gratification. We’re used to results being immediate and the dating world is no different. Endless swiping through hundreds of potential matches can be labour-intensive and many feel that it has taken the seriousness out of dating. As a result, we are seeing more people moving away from the swipe right lottery to an offline agency, in favour of a more traditional approach of quality introductions over quantity.”

“However, technology still plays a role. At Ignite Dating, matchmakers use a unique mix of intuition, industry expertise and knowledge, and Myers Briggs Personality Profiling to select a potential introduction, based on the qualities and traits that are important to their clients. However, it is not simply enough to rely on this. In addition, to ensure the prospective relationship has the best chance for success long-term, all matches are run through an industry-specific algorithm to check that it is a good match and only those that achieve over 90 percent match will be presented as an introduction.”

“With the ongoing restrictions, the dating journey has also changed.  Over the last year we have seen some creative ways to bring the fun and excitement back to dating – from virtual quizzes and escape rooms to cooking over Skype and Netflix Party movie nights – there are now a number of apps and platforms to allow people to stay connected. This is something that we expect to continue long after the pandemic is over as a way for couples to stay in touch on the days that they cannot be together in person. We also believe this new appreciation for the little things in life is likely to see couples choosing alternative dates like going for a walk or bike ride, instead of heading straight out for a drink and dinner date like they may have done in the past.”

 

Gillian Myhill, Sex and Dating Expert and Founder of BARE Dating

 

Gillian-Myhill-BARE-dating-founder

 

“It has been a pretty dramatic year for the dating scene, and it’s safe to say that Covid has caused the most profound changes when it comes to how we date.”

“How we meet, engage with, and even enjoy each other has been drastically turned on its head, with technology replacing touch, and Facetime replacing actual…facetime. People are having to turn to more creative resources to help boost their dating lives over lockdown, and it isn’t a far cry to think we are living in a dystopian future where sex and personal profiles have become currency within the dating world.”

“Nothing will ever replace human connection and touch, and video will never accurately portray our human emotions or feelings during the dating stages, however, it has changed our approaches to how we date, and connect with people. Gone are the days when we spend hours of our time going on several dates in restaurants, spending money, only to realise it isn’t going anywhere. Time has become a very valuable commodity, and the pandemic has taught us a lot about ourselves, and what we want, and we are no longer scared to demand it. We are no longer wasting our time with pointless endeavours, but now getting straight to the point when we connect with someone to figure out if they’re worth our time.”

“This obviously has pros and cons – dating has become a conveyor belt of ‘thank you, nexts’, meaning we aren’t meeting people beyond what we are looking for – so there isn’t a chance for a no to turn into a friendship. However, when we do decide to set up a virtual date, we know it’s going to be worth both parties time, and we have already established a connection so no awkwardness (if we can help it).”

“Covid has also made us put an emphasis on experiences, rather than things. Being stuck inside, with limited ways to enjoy ourselves, we are looking to have fun, to be thrilled and excited. We now expect more than a restaurant or mediocre first date. The virtual escape room business is booming, we can watch cabarets, performances and West End shows from the comfort of our own home, participate in online cooking classes and wine tastings, and even participate in virtual sex or attend sex parties if you’re so inclined.”

“But what’s more, is that it has given us back the control of dating, and we can date our terms, in our own time, and safely. Most of us are no longer restricted by working hours, or have to work things around other commitments, and we aren’t limited by borders either, meaning the dating pool is A LOT wider. And we can do it safely, from the safety of our own homes, meaning no more meeting strangers in strange places, or getting home late – especially for women.”

“It isn’t foolproof, and you will always get your weirdos and stalkers, but they are trapped online, with nowhere to go, and no one is under any obligation to divulge personal information – we can even add backgrounds to our virtual dates to hide our homes.”

“I think we will see a very different dating world once this is all over, with a more confident and dating positive set of people, and more meaningful relationships. And you know what – if you don’t like how things are going – just click ‘End Call’.”

 

Jo Barnett, Dating Coach / Relationship Expert

 

Jo-Barnett-Dating-Coach

 

“Dating in a pandemic is something that no one was prepared for, it has created a sudden shift in focus for singles wanting someone to cosy up with on a winter night. There are two camps that people fall into, either it’s just not safe so don’t do it or, keep going and find people to walk and talk with.”

 

“As a dating coach and relationship expert I suggest that now is a good time to find people to meet. Most people are time rich and looking for some adult company, going for a walk with someone can brighten your day and even turn into romance. We now value the little things in life more than ever, a smile, a chat, someone asking how your day is.”

 

“I am suggesting that people use the apps, look for introductions through friends and start chatting. Once you find that you are interested in someone its best to get off messenger and onto the phone to chat and hear their voice, even face time so you can see what they really look like and if there is any mutual attraction. When possible get out and meet for a walk and get to know each other. There is nothing wrong with a slow burn and a prolonged old fashioned courtship, it has certainly worked for me!”

 

Sanjay Panchal, Founder of Dating App Elate

 

Sanjay-Panchal-elate-founder

 

“Covid has had a huge impact on the dating scene. For anyone looking for casual dating, it’s largely meant not dating at all. For those looking for a long term relationship, however, it’s been much more of a mixed bag.”

“For some, they’ve put their search on hold, opting not to date until they can do it in person. For many others though, Covid restrictions have allowed them to try Slow Dating, where you take some time to get to know someone before meeting in person or before physical intimacy.”

“In the last year, meeting in person has become a big step so taking the time to get to know them either over the phone or video calls is important. However, this is just accelerating a trend that started before covid.”

“Dating apps have become the number one source of new relationships but for the most part, they have always been better for casual dating. The majority of apps rely on superficial matching, mostly just on looks. This means users have to do most of the screening and often rush to first dates to get to know each other properly.”

“The lack of screening mean users have to go through countless matches to meet someone and this commoditization of people has resulted in a rise in bad behaviour, ghosting and harassment. It’s why almost half of all dating app users feel frustrated with their experience.”

“Covid restrictions have given the perfect excuse to focus on finding the right matches rather than the most matches. It’s why elate is designed to bring you just a handful of recommendations per day, based on both looks and personality, and why we only let you chat to three people at a time. We believe in quality over quantity.”

 

James Preece, Celebrity Dating Coach & Relationship Expert

 

James-Preece-Dating-Coach

 

“Throughout the last year, people haven’t been able to date the conventional way. They can’t make real use out of dating apps, they can’t meet socially with friends, however, one good thing to come out of this is that people have had a really good chance to reflect on what they want. People are much more serious than they were a year ago about finding a long-term partner.”

“Initially there were a lot of breakups, as people didn’t want to be stuck with someone that they weren’t really fussed about, but now many have been giving real consideration to all the qualities and values that they’re looking for in a partner.”

“On top of this, meaningless hookups aren’t really possible at the moment, so people are being much more serious when it comes to their dating life, and as such I would say, in 15 years of being a dating coach I’ve never been so busy.”

“Virtual dating initially was very popular, people saw it as a novelty, and it was a good way to get to know someone during the pandemic. But then as time went by, everyone got sick of virtual dating. People got frustrated, because even if a date went well they couldn’t then meet up properly face-to-face unless for a socially distanced walk. I think people are getting a bit tired, now really wanting to get out there and start meeting new people.”

“People aren’t willing to settle anymore though, they’re not willing to compromise their happiness. The most important thing recently has been self care, and thinking about what people really want for themselves rather than somebody else.”