Virtual dating is booming, but daters say it’s not enough

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Why’d You Push That Button? is back for a special episode all about virtual dating in 2020. The pandemic has forced many people to stay at home, which means dating has had to move online. For this episode, Kaitlyn Tiffany and I talk to online daters and Bumble’s VP of strategy about how they’re adapting to virtual-only dating. They try to figure out what, if any, features and behaviors will stick around after social distancing and the pandemic end.

Dating apps have leaned into virtual dates over the past few months. Tinder is launching video calls and added a feature called Global Mode, which lets you match with people around the world. Hinge launched a virtual dating badge that users can put on their profiles to indicate they’re down for a virtual date, and Bumble also expanded how far away people can match and made it possible to send audio notes within the app. Bumble already had video calling available in the app, and its usage, predictably, skyrocketed during the pandemic.

“We saw an 84 percent increase in video calls that were placed between users,” says Priti Joshi, VP of strategy at Bumble. “And what we are hearing from our users is that this is basically a way for them to connect safely because they can’t actually connect IRL right now.”

Bumble says that during the last week of April, for example, video calls lasted an average of 28 minutes. People are chatting for longer and trying to make video call dates more similar to dates they’d have in person.

Still, daters say they aren’t thrilled with all that virtual dates have to offer. Listen to the episode above to hear from three daters who explain their virtual dating journeys and the features they expect to stick around. As always, you can subscribe to the show anywhere you typically get your podcasts. To make it easier, though, here are the usual places: Apple Podcasts, Pocket Casts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, and our RSS feed.

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