Has this pandemic hijacked your love life?
Maybe this was going to be your year to shine and meet that special someone, and now coronavirus and social distancing have left you feeling deflated. Black women are already navigating a challenging dating environment and have higher unmarried rates than other races in the US. Add a global pandemic to the mix, and it may seem like there's no chance to find love in 2020. But all hope is not lost. Finding romance might be more difficult and require more creativity than it used to, but it is still possible.
Online dating has become one of the only ways singles can meet during this time of isolation and social distancing. Usage of online dating apps are up, and singles are looking for quality over quantity. Quick hookups and fleeting coffee dates are out, communication and meaningful connections are in. Dating apps are rushing to fill the need by making in-app features like live-streaming and video chats available for all of their users
I interviewed an online dating expert, The Dating Doula, to ask her opinion on the state of dating within the new normal of coronavirus, and she had a lot to say, including that quarantine might be the best time to practice your dating skills.
As The Dating Doula, Bridget offers her clients a unique spin on online dating. But what is a doula anyway, and how does it relate to dating? Doulas are trained professionals who provide parents with emotional, informational, and physical support before, during, and after a baby is born. As a dating doula, Bridget delivers the same type of services to her clients. She does the work while you go on the dates – she will revamp your bio, help you create professional app-worthy dating pics, and even do the online dating for you. When Bridget finds someone she thinks will be a good match for you, that's when you take over. If you decide to go out with them, she'll send you some fun, first date ideas.
Bridget has been helping clients improve their dating presence and find love for over two years. Her genuine personality and depth of knowledge about online dating made this an easy interview to conduct. Bridget graciously shares her best advice and sheds light on what black singles and anyone else looking for love can expect during these unprecedented times.
Q: What are some of the biggest changes you've seen in online dating over the last few years?
A: It has to be the gamification of apps. Popular dating platforms like Tinder and Bumble make it compelling and addictive to spend your time swiping left or right to find the right match.
Another big change is the minimal setup time needed to create an account. With traditional paid apps like Match.com or eHarmony the application process was lengthy. Newer apps make the process easy and fun. Set up can be completed in 5-10 minutes. OkCupid and Hinge are examples of apps that ask their users many questions but don't require them all to be answered before matches are made.
The types of questions have also changed. Hinge, for example, separates itself from competitors like Tinder and Bumble with unique, outside of the box questions that give you a good glimpse of the user's personality. One of their questions is, "Don't message me if…". Depending on how that person answers, prospective suitors can gain valuable insights. If they answered "…if you have kids," then you know right away, that person isn't looking to connect with someone who has children.
Q: What are the biggest mistakes people make with online dating?
A: First, people spend way too long messaging on the apps. Limit your time to five days. Once you've exchanged four substantial or meaningful messages with another person, move the conversation to a video chat or phone call.
People tend to lose track of their parameters. Stay mindful of the type of person you are looking for and what you want. Realize that there are intentional time-wasters on these dating apps. These are people who aren't looking for what you're looking for, but they will keep you hanging on and waste your time. Learn to recognize them; short, one-word, non-committal answers are their hallmarks. Cut those connections off immediately.
Lastly, people don't understand how to put together a good dating profile. Your bio is so important, and you have to present yourself in the best light possible.
Q: Have people's perceptions of online dating changed with the rise of coronavirus?
A: Yes, it's changed in a couple of different ways. First, people who looked down on dating apps or thought they were weird are now more open to meeting people through online dating. The pandemic has awakened single people to the fact that they want a partner and would like to be in a serious relationship.
The second shift has been with people who were on the apps just to find sexual partners. These users are finding quarantine the hardest because they can't rely on their looks alone or sex appeal for a quick hook up. They actually have to communicate with people now.
Q: How has coronavirus affected dating as a whole?
A: Now you have to be about something. You have to care to connect because meaningful communication is all there is right now. After all, dating is primarily about connection. As people experience loneliness in a way they've never experienced before, there's a realization that they haven't taken dating seriously, and now they want to pivot.
Dating is also a huge time commitment, from getting dressed to traveling to the date itself. But now you don't have to worry about any of that. And if you're not good at dating, quarantine is the perfect time to practice. The purpose of dating should be self-exploration, so this is your opportunity. Now is the time to learn how to speak and engage with people, find out who you are, what you do and don't like, and how you manage conflict. You can do all of this within the comfort of your home. And even without wearing pants!
Q: Once people have met and connected on an app, what can they do next?
A: Virtual dating is big right now. It's important to make that visual connection after matching on the app to make sure you're not being catfished and to see who you've been communicating with all this time. Right now, all the apps are pushing video calls as the next step, and many include in-app video call features, so you don't have to leave the dating app. But you can also meet on FaceTime, Skype, Zoom, or any video conferencing app will do the trick. People are experimenting with virtual dates and finding new ways to connect.
Q: With social distancing rules in place, once a couple hits it off, can they meet?
A: It is possible to heed social distance rules and date, but if you're ready to meet, you will need to get creative. Activities such as going for a walk while 6 feet apart or sitting on separate benches at the park are options. Or you can try a social distance date in separate cars; agree to meet at a restaurant drive-through, pick up your orders, park, roll down your windows, and chat across cars. Whatever you do, make sure to follow social distancing guidelines in your area.
Q: Final thoughts on the pandemic and dating?
A: Dating is a skill. You need to practice, and this is the right time to do it.
Think of social isolation as a way for singles to connect in other ways. Find out what interests you and pursue connections with people who share those interests. There are many groups and virtual sites that offer creative ways for singles to meet. It is the perfect time to find your tribe.
If you need help with online dating, visit The Dating Doula website to connect with Bridget. And for more insightful, honest, and funny dating advice, follow Bridget on Instagram and Facebook @thedatingdoula, and on Twitter @datingdoula.