Dating is hard enough at the best of times. Throw in nationwide social distancing, a highly contagious virus, rapid decline in mental health for young adults, and the slow decrease in use of the top 15 major dating apps before the pandemic, one would think dating would take a backseat to other things. However, many dating sites have completely turned the rules for online dating around. Online dating over video chat doesn’t come with the physical expectation that dating in the physical world does. Is online dating over video here to stay as a new staple in life? How could that affect dating in the future and how relationships are formed? What effect could running all new relationships through the warped filter of the internet have on people as they enter the dating pool? So many new dating sites are out, and a huge number of them have become so specialized that finding a match should be easier than ever… right?
Whether you want to meet someone in the local LGBTQ community or a traditonal style relationship across the globe there seems to be a specialized dating site for everyone. Sites like Geolocation allow you to meet people “across the pond,” then Taimi has become the biggest newest site for the LGBTQ community. Men and women in uniform have many sites made just for them, from police officers to military. Baby boomers are even included in this new online dating boom with sites like SilverSingles and many others. There are even online dating sites for everyone from farmers to professional clowns. Maybe you just really love a good man in a mullet… that’s an option on MulletPassions, which is not to be confused with sites for the non-mullet wearers with mullet personas such as WesternDate. Vegans and vegetarians as well as gluten-free singles have their own sites which they can find match with similar dietary needs. There is even a site for those who believe they are vampires to find their undead soulmate. All of these sites have popped up before and during the pandemic. Does joining a specialty site based on your interests increase your chance of finding a good match? The data still remains to be seen on that. The new increase of traffic to the online dating world makes it seem that it should be easier than ever before to find a new match.
The Online-Dating Boom
Before the pandemic, dating in major cities could be expensive. Video chats and Online dating are saving singles hundreds of dollars. Many dating sites such as MeetMe, Taimi, Hinge, and PlentyOfFish have come out with new features to accommodate this, such as “LIVE” in order to meet people over live video broadcasting. Bumble was ahead of the game, offering video calls beginning in 2019. Video chatting over Bumble rose 93% in the week after Trump declared a national emergency, the company said. Dating.com reported that online dating was up 82% on a global scale, beginning in March of 2020. Tinder saw the length of conversations rise by up to 30%. A dating app for the stars and elite called Inner Circle saw messages rise over 100%.
Could these statistics lead to a post-pandemic wedding boom? Those results remain to be seen as we are still under mandates in many places here in 2021. Some singles are skeptical about how long they can keep a virtual relationship and make it work. Advancements in vaccines and new mandates have opened the possibility of having limited in-person encounters, but a majority of singles say they still would rather meet someone online. How often do online relationships actually work out? What affects will all the time of isolation have on those who choose to get married after the pandemic? The burden of isolation will be seen in the ability to form relationships and mental health for the next years to come. How long will it take our society as a whole to heal from the toll of the pandemic?
Does Online-Dating Work?
Studies conducted by dating websites and relationship professionals conclude finding a partner online is about one-third of the same chance you have to meet someone in person. The chances of converting online dating to a long-term relationship or marriage is less than 10%. This leads us to the biggest question: why are success rates so low if the possibility of matches is so high? Relationship experts say the massive volume of people on these sites can cause people to not pay much attention to profiles that don’t immediately catch their eye and become “swipe happy.” If a majority of users become “swipe happy” and generate less matches this could lead to feelings of rejection and loneliness. These feelings send people back to the online dating sites and the cycle continues. This version of dating turns it almost into a game of here’s my resume, hire me for the job, but the job has millions of candidates and a lazy HR person. This can be detrimental to how relationships are formed because not only are you mostly choosing matches based on filtered images and carefully thought out bios, which may or may not accurately represent the person. Meeting someone online can cause the brain to release dopamine and make them believe they are so happy and in love with this person they have never met. Dopamine is needed to make healthy love connections but so are many other things you can only get by being face-to-face. Non-verbal cues are essential for determining if someone is right for you.
When you meet someone at school, work, or an event you have many non-verbal cues which determine important things about a person and forming a relationship. Physical non-verbal cues, such as eye contact, hand gestures, and body language that don’t match up with words spoken can raise important red flags that indicate relationship failure in the future. Without this ability to see how someone acts when they speak, we have to only trust their carefully thought out words, which is hard to do through a screen. The chemical oxytocin is extremely important for forming a healthy love connection and is only activated by the touch of someone else. The way someone smells, as in the natural pheromones that help determine true attraction and genetic compatibility, is unable to be determined through a screen. Our bodies are hardwired to require meeting someone face to face in order to form healthy love connections. Could not having initial non-verbal cues due to online-dating be one of the main reasons relationships formed over an online platform don’t seem to pan out? Has COVID changed the courtship process forever?
Written by: Erinn Malloy