Dating Apps

Dating During Coronavirus Turned Upside Since Everything Is a Long-Distance Relationship

The coronavirus outbreak has changed how people date. It's brought long-distance couples together and let singles date a million people they'll never meet

Chelsea Stahl / NBC News; Getty Images

When Sara K. Runnels used to get a match on one of her dating apps, she would do some light vetting and then suggest meeting for a cocktail at a bar down the street from her downtown Seattle apartment.

The 35-year-old recently relocated from New York City and doesn’t have a car, so proximity was key. She typically limits her matches to only those within a 2-mile radius.

That was before the coronavirus pandemic prompted nearly every state in the country to tell its residents to stay home and practice socially distancing.

Now, Runnels is finding distance isn’t really an issue.

“Everything’s dating long distance at this point,” she said. “Now more than ever, I’m more open to this person living wherever. … We’re not seeing each other anytime soon, anyway.”

Runnels is one of millions of Americans navigating the new dating world in a society now defined by virtual hangouts, working from home and social distancing. The new normal has changed things for both singles looking for love and those in long-distance relationships.

Remote working has presented a rare loophole for some couples in long-distance relationships, allowing them to isolate together since “home” can be anywhere that has an internet connection.

Katie Mitchell, 30, lives in Singapore. Her boyfriend, Lukas Weigel, 31, lives more than 6,000 miles away in Hamburg, Germany.

The couple was on vacation in early March when the outbreak escalated and it became clear Mitchell wouldn’t be able to return home. Now, for the first time since going long distance in March 2019, they’ve been able to spend roughly five weeks together.

“It’s been the radiant light in this very cloudy and uncertain time,” Mitchell said.

The situation, borne out of crisis, has actually been a useful “trial” that will make big decisions about their future easier.

“[Now we know] we’re not only able to share a life and a home together, but we can even manage to do so when all we have is that shared space," Mitchell said.

People who aren't in relationships are turning to dating apps for social connection and moving straight from text chats to phone and video calls — things that might usually only come after in-person dates.

Bumble saw a 93 percent increase in video chat and voice call usage from March 13-27.

Match Group, which owns Tinder and Hinge, has also reported increased activity among existing users, particularly those under 30, and plans to roll out new video chat features soon.

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