Zoom Dates, Facetime Meets, and Drive-Ins? Oh my!
By Alaina Hayden
Photography By Alaina Hayden
HOUSTON – Social distancing may be prohibiting some forms of human connection, but it hasn’t stopped people from meeting prospective romantic partners. Dating apps such as Bumble, Tinder and Hinge have seen an approximate 30% increase in user messaging according to Time magazine. Avid swipers such as 21-year-old Chandler Gibson are taking advantage of this opportunity.
“Well we’ve all watched Tiger King and get drunk at 9 am everyday. What else is there to do?” Gibson said.
Gibson said people are constantly messaging him on dating apps. To him, this is nice because you can meet more new people and try dating techniques you wouldn’t normally use. According to Gibson, both people are in complete control of their communication because you can block the other person at any time. He believes this app use has been exacerbated by quarantine because everyone is stuck in their houses and there’s nowhere to go and nothing to do except talk to new people online.
31-year-old Katie Babeji found someone on Hinge when she wasn’t looking for anything serious. She admitted he wasn’t her type when she first saw his profile, but decided that she should just match with him because ‘why not?’ They hit it off immediately by bonding over their similar taste in music. She says this way of dating is new and different.
“You get to know someone very intimately. If you’re at a bar and it’s awkward you can turn around and talk to your friend or their friend or say ‘Hey I’m going to go to the bathroom.’ You can’t do that, you’re stuck with someone in that setting,” Babeji said.
Karen Rayne teaches Human Sexuality at the University of Texas at Austin. She said humans crave physical connection and this has increased because of social distancing.
“I’m honestly surprised it’s not higher than 30%. I would have expected a higher number,” Rayne said.
She said it can be hard for an exclusively online relationship to turn into a physical one. Although it can work for some people, most do not end well. Rayne explained that the Netflix show “Love Is Blind” is a good example of exclusively emotional connections that do not translate well into physical relationships.
Zoom calls and Facetiming are one way people are trying to stay connected and to meet each other on first dates. Rayne said seeing each other’s faces can increase connections.
Babeji and her partner have moved to seeing each other in person. They have done home movie nights and visited their favorite breweries for to-go beers. They are looking forward to visiting a local drive-in that practices strict social distancing where patrons are not allowed to leave their car.
While dating apps are not some people’s ideal solution for human connections, they provide something to look forward to when we return to normalcy.