Love in the time of cholera coronavirus

From viral Tweets about social-distanced first dates, to Facebook’s launch of virtual dates, I find myself wondering if the dating world will be impacted forever.

A few weeks ago I came across a Twitter thread of an NYC resident who had spotted a woman from his window. It was your typical love story. Boy sees girl dancing on rooftop, makes a sign from his window to get attention, and eventually goes on a date with her from inside a plastic bubble.

What a time to be alive, huh?

I went about my day, wondering if this was a true story or if it had been created for the sheer purpose of going viral. These are the times we live in, where creating content is king, regardless of how honest a creator might be to the public about its origins.

This story did get me thinking, however, about the dating scene. Even when social distancing ends, there are discussions happening about the death of the handshake. How is intimacy (especially with a new acquaintance) going to look in the future?

These digital natives, who through online apps have enjoyed a freedom to manage their social lives and romantic entanglements that previous generations lacked—swiping left or right, ghosting a bore, scheduling a late-night hookup—now find themselves unable to exercise that independence. 

Eliana Dockterman, TIME

We are social creatures by nature – friends and coworkers have found creative ways through FaceTime and Zoom to hold happy hours and celebrate birthdays. It seems that when it comes to dating, we are no different. For example, the dating apps Bumble and Hinge have reported over 20% increase in messaging across major cities since the day WHO labeled COVID-19 a global pandemic; they have also seen an increase in the length of conversations, or “quality chats” as they’re being labeled. Studies show a longer courting period translates to a more stable marriage. So while being in quarantine might lead to more couples separating, it might also lead to a boom in weddings.

Facebook sees a way to grow Facebook Dating

In 2019, Facebook introduced its Facebook Dating feature, which allows you to create a profile separate from your Facebook account but uses your interests, likes, and commonalities to recommend potential matches. Last week, CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced the service will allow users to go on “virtual dates” through a video feature that will integrate with Messenger. They are not the first, as many dating apps have been offering voice and video features before the pandemic.

Facebook is the first of the social media platform “giants” to announce new or expanded technology as a direct result of COVID-19. I doubt they will be the last. As someone who is married, I look forward to seeing how platforms provide “dating” opportunities for those of us not looking for new love, but still have interest in keeping their romantic relationships exciting.

I’d love to know your thoughts. How do you see the dating scene being impacted in a post-quarantine world? Let me know in the comments below.

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