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Covid-19: Dating Disruption or Romance Reboot?

heart in an envelope

Part 2 of the Love in Lockdown series, by Dr Jordan Alexander, founder of Love Assist.

You don’t need to be Einstein to know intimacy and social distancing don’t mix…

So, what fills the gap between Covid, hook-ups and one-night stands?

The answer may surprise you.

Since coronavirus, people “looking for hook-ups” on OkCupid’s global user base has decreased 20% and those people “looking for serious relationships” has increased by 5%. Are we growing a collective consciousness during this pandemic? Is there a romance reboot and return to old-fashioned values? With 85% of online users saying it’s important to develop an emotional connection with a partner BEFORE a physical one, maybe Covid’s dating disruption brings an opportunity: S-L-O-W dating.

Golly gosh, SLOW seems such an antiquated term in today’s society – contrasting the busy-busy-busy, endless to-do lists and ‘finding time’ to squeeze in a love life. SLOW reminds me of the classic Heinz Ketchup Commercial in 1979, with the strapline: The taste that’s worth the wait. I was four years old when Carly Simon wrote Anticipation, that accompanies the ad. “An-ti-ci-pa-tion, it’s making me wait!” Carly captures not only ketchup, but perhaps what this ‘dating disruption’ is all about. 

Does distance make the heart grow fonder? 

Technology has solved the out of sight, out of mind dilemma of yesteryear. Over 4 billion people have a smartphone (75% of the world’s population) and know how to use it! Since coronavirus, ZOOM meetings jumped from 10 million to 200 million daily users – literally overnight – and online dating in the time of coronavirus has skyrocketed. 

In Part 1 of Love in Lockdown, we looked at how to ‘Get heart smart’ given the 50 million new ‘intro’ messages sent on OkCupid within a month. New registrations and matches continue to hit record highs right round the globe. Tinder told users: “Social distancing doesn’t have to mean disconnecting,” and emphasized “now is not the time to meet in real life with your match.” So, is virtual dating the new normal?

Is coronavirus creating a romance reboot?

Tinder reports changes in profiles, like 60% of female users saying they’re “looking for a match” not just a hook up. So how do we ‘get to know’ someone while still keeping a distance? It’s time for twenty-first century dating to step back and ‘go steady’ with some old-fashioned ideals, morality and values. 

Some things are unlikely to go back, like: 

  • ‘The man should make the first move’ – which Bumble’s popularity has smashed out of the park
  • ‘The guy pays’ – going Dutch is the new norm
  • ‘Pick me up at my place’ got replaced with Stranger Danger and the red flag of sharing personal information too soon
  • First date kisses and waiting for sex until date five could still apply, but in the Covid-19 environment they’re ‘off the list’ anyway. #Open eloquently advised its 50,000 users: “This isn’t a good time to be swapping spit.” 

The ‘getting to know’ someone – before sex, petting, marriage – transcends time. It’s at home in Emily Post’s book of etiquette AND today’s dating scene. Since the nineteenth century, ‘romantic love’ took over from practical arranged marriages, in the West at least. Compatibility and the desire to ‘connect emotionally’ took over the need to exchange land, dowries and marrying to improve social status (well, mostly). 

So, how do you ‘get to know’ someone during a pandemic? 

Get Heart Smart – Part 2: SLOW DATING Profiles, Pics and Presence

In part two of this Love in Lockdown series, we shift from getting Relationship Ready, to the second biggest reason most people muck up meeting their match:    their online profile, pics and presence are pitiful. When SLOW dating – these essentials matter more than ever.

#1: Your SLOW dating profile

  • Think of your profile as a cross between a resume and a love note – you need to convey some important information about why you are wonderful, but you also need to clearly lavish sincere compliments for the match you are seeking. At Love Assist we call the latter part: reverse-engineering. It’s where you imagine your ideal match is reading your profile, and low and behold – she/he is reading about ways their puzzle pieces connect with yours perfectly! 
  • Keep your profiles short. Even though we’ve got more time on our hands in lockdown, it doesn’t mean your profile for slow dating should be War & Peace length. Use the time wisely, as short doesn’t mean it won’t take you ages to write! A crisp 200-300 word profile will take hours. Please just don’t mention your toilet paper supply and how well-stocked your pantry is. OkCupid reported its users had a 188% increase in coronavirus mentions on dating profiles at the start of the year. It’s a good idea to limit your talk about the virus altogether. Nothing pours cold water on romance like a communicable disease.
  • Lastly, be honest. Don’t be part of the 53% of people that lie on their profiles about age, height/weight and job/income. Relationships based on lies, die young. Eluding the truth should make you think – What am I afraid of? Perhaps you need to go back to the Love Assist quiz and see if you’re Relationship Ready.

#2: SLOW dating still needs profile pics

  • Even though I’m a firm believer that inner beauty trumps the physical, about half of those online dating list ‘physical characteristics’ as important. Let’s face it, we feast first with the eyes, but inner beauty is what counts long-term. All those perfect imperfections you grow to love – the cute dimple in the nose, quirky personality features, unique mannerisms. When you really know someone, their inner beauty permeates the packaging.
  • We are SLOW virtual dating, but let’s be practical. You’ll still need to include photos of you. I suggest at least three: a head-shot, a full-body photo, and one where you’re doing something that represents your ‘interests’ (over half of profiles still match on common interests). Please use CURRENT photos and take NEW photos for the sole purpose of your profile. Only ever post pics where you are the ‘star’ (no friends and pets) and make sure YOU like how you look.
  • Remember to SMILE. Everyone looks beautiful with a genuine smile. 

#3: Being present & your authentic presence

  • SLOW dating gives you a chance to romance – to lavish attention and flattery. Since Covid, online daters have been spending more time ‘getting to know each other’. In the USA, conversations between ‘matches’ increased in number by 10-15% on Tinder, Bumble and Plenty of Fish; and by 25% in Italy and Spain. Conversation length also increased 10-30% since-Covid, with numbers higher in heavy lockdown areas. Thirty-eight percent of OkCupid users in India said ‘getting to know a match better’ was one of the silver linings to virtual dating (along with less pressure and being able to wear your pajamas on a date).
  • SLOW dating, at a distance, let’s you spend quality time with another person, where you can communicate with greater presence, taking time to listen and to be aware of what is being said. “People reveal themselves at different paces,” says Rachel Levenson, a clinical psychologist at CLARITY in New York. “Give potential new partners a chance to show you who they are before making a quick judgment.”
  • This crazy forced experiment gives you a chance to show who you really are – authentically – from sharing bread recipes to thoughts about sex and love. You are surrounded in a bubble that represents a treasure trove of ‘who you are’. Can you share these artefacts that define your interests? That crazy basket collection you started on your OE ten years ago. Your obsession with the colour blue. Enjoy safer discussions about intimacy in your living room, with confidence to be vulnerable without the physical proximity of your suitor. 

SLOW dating under Covid is giving people time to get to know each other and delaying physical intimacy. It’s adding anticipation, like the Heinz ketchup commercial – drawing out the delicious part of romancing – focusing on emotional and intellectual connection, and raising intimacy. We may not be in the best position for sex today, but with SLOW dating, we will be better connected for it, tomorrow. The anticipation created by this dating disruption is just what we need to give authentic love and romance a reboot.

For more tips, try our Love Assist Perfect Profile Prep Quiz.

  • If you’re considering ‘love in lockdown’ – What’s stopping you? 
  • Do you have a story about your online love life in the time of Covid-19? Share your stories by sending a voice memo or written message to jordan@LifeLessonsLove.com

In part three in this series, we get Heart Smart with how to commit to make love happen as you navigate the new world of virtual dating, as Love in Lockdown continues. 

Dr Jordan Alexander is Founder of Love Assist: A heart-centred business helping genuine love seekers find authentic connections.

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