When PM Boris Johnson put the UK on coronavirus lockdown, singletons might have expected that the enforced social distancing would put an end to their dating lives.
But in fact, it seems the opposite is true.
Recent stats by Match have revealed that dating in these COVID-19 times is still very much on people’s minds with almost half (47%) of all participants still hoping to meet a partner during the pandemic.
What’s more, single Brits are pretty dedicated to the cause spending an an average of seven hours a week online dating.
And instead of lockdown putting the brakes on finding a mate, it seems it’s actually ramped it up with Match reporting a 12% spike in direct messages on the day the government declared it will be at least six months before life in the UK returns to normal.
So, it seems, singles are definitely still hoping to mingle in the these coronavirus-laden times!
“Do you wish that you'd met someone before coronavirus hit or maybe you were just getting psyched up to date again? Well, whilst social distancing doesn't sound like it will be good for your love life, there's some great reasons why you should still date (safely) during lockdown,” explains Match’s dating expert, Hayley Quinn.
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But there’s no getting round the fact that dating as people know it has changed. And, of course, dating virtually is pretty different to meeting someone IRL.
“You don't get the physical contact or the excitement of a date in person. However, this may not all be bad news for your love life,” Quinn explains.
“And despite new challenges to meeting people, in times of crisis our need for connection is often stronger.”
Now we’re not suggesting you break quarantine or succumb to a, “wanna meet up quick? I can bring hand sanitiser...” style message. However, learning how to date virtually can have some pretty surprising benefits.
Reassess your type
First things first, DON’T meet in person. “Follow the government guidelines and stay home and stay safe,” advises Quinn.
“But DO use this time to change your dating patterns and build new connections. A big snag with modern dating can be that it encourages us to make very quick decisions about who we are and aren’t feeling it with.
“So if you’re guilty of meeting someone for all of one minute and thinking, ‘not for me...’ or being put off by their use of emojis, now could be a good time to do a hardcore reset on what your expectations of dates are.”
Plus as we heard above online dating sites are booming right now, which means the dating pool may have just got a little bigger.
“There will be A LOT of new people joining sites and investing more time into dating than ever before,” explains Quinn.
Embrace slow dating
Rather than jumping to conclusions about the people you meet, being under lockdown is going to force some seriously slow dating. But there are some definite advantages to that.
“This means that you have the chance to really get to know someone and build a more genuine connection,” explains Quinn.
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Look for ‘I like you’ indicators
“Whilst how you feel when you’re physically with someone is very important, a lot of relationship check boxes can be ticked off via how someone communicates with you,” advises Quinn.
She believes how people behave in their lockdown communication could offer an indication of what they could be like as a partner IRL.
“Are they consistent or insistent to chat with? Do they seem super keen one minute, but then cold the next? Do they make time to speak to you on a video call, or do they say they'd love to chat but then never create the circumstances to do so? Do you find communication with them easy, or is it a struggle to understand one another? Do they leave you feeling secure and comfortable, or just down right confused?”
Switch up your video ‘dates’
It can be fun and affirming to take your online chat to the next level with video dates. Not only will virtual dates help break up your day, they also provide a great opportunity to get to know someone.
“Make your video dates as good as possible by combining a good technical set up and some date creativity,” advises Quinn. “Lighting and sound are important so if you have a daytime date make sure that you sit facing a window. If it's a nighttime date get some desk lamps going.”
Quinn also suggests position your laptop at eye level, not actually on your lap, for a more flattering angle and use headphones to create some privacy if others are around.
“If your first few chats go well, try mixing up future dates by playing virtual charades or drinking games to help you to get to know one another,” she adds. “You could even do a mock dinner date by ordering the same takeout!”
And you can always switch up a Netflix and Chill for a Netflix and Chat!
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Keep the the virtual spark alive
While you might not be together, there are plenty of ways you can encourage someone to feel engaged with your life, and the mutual back and forth should feel supportive to you too.
“Keep building your connection in-between dates with voice notes, pictures and videos,” suggests Quinn.
Reboot your dating mindset
Rather than sit on the sidelines for the coming months, Quinn advises singles to really think about what they can and should do to set themselves up for dating success on the other side.
“If you started this year thinking that this was going to be your year to meet someone, it still can be if you can embrace finding love under lockdown,” she explains.