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It’s hard to deny that COVID-19 has dramatically changed so much about how we do things within our personal and professional lives. Economic woes, social distancing guidelines, and just a general atmosphere of fear and uncertainty have impacted the very core of our communities, and now, almost a year since the first lockdown, it’s challenging to even conceptualize what life felt like before this public health crisis! This being said, Canadians have done a formidable job of adapting and pivoting in order for our lives to continue amid these unprecedented times.
One of the ways we’ve adapted our behaviours is how we date and meet other singles in the middle of a pandemic. Online dating has certainly helped in providing safe, distanced means of forming connections even while adhering to stay at home orders. But even the online dating game has changed in interesting ways over the past year, and some experts suggest that these new dating trends may be here to stay, even in a post COVID-19 world!
Below, we’re sharing the top four themes that have emerged within online dating relationships over the pandemic period:
When the first lock-down hit in March of last year, the number of users accessing online dating platforms and apps skyrocketed and experts are attributing this trend to a phenomenon that they’re calling “COVID Cuffing”. This refers to the realization of so many singles that they wanted to be in a relationship, which is unsurprising given the increased time spent alone to reflect while cut off from many other sources of entertainment, socializing, or stimulation. With fewer distractions, and intensified feelings of isolation, singles were ready to invest time into forming a serious relationship.
Want proof? Following lock-down orders in March of 2020, OKCupid engagement went way up, with a 700% increase in users going on a virtual date. Hornet, an app catering to the gay male community, saw at 30% increase in social feed engagement at the same time, as did Tinder, which reported more than 3 billion users swiping amid lockdown measures!
While many online dating apps had reputations as tech-savvy hookup platforms for young singles to conveniently find another willing partner within a 1km radius, this has shifted over the course of the pandemic. What has emerged instead, is increased exclusivity between couples who connect online. Amid the fear surrounding the spread of the virus, daters are more apt to keep their dating bubbles as small as possible, particularly if moving to the next step and meeting in person.
Those studying online relationships over the time of COVID, have noted that relationships are certainly forming on a different trajectory. Less inclined to rush into face-to-face meetings, daters are spending considerably more time getting to know each other, forming a deeper connection, and having more intimate conversations earlier in the relationship, even before meeting in person. It’s a slower approach to dating, but one that is fast-tracking the formation of a stronger connection.
This accelerated intimacy has also led some new couples to jump into co-habitation faster than before. By moving in together and establishing their “bubble”, in the event of another lock-down, each partner now has someone to weather out the storm with.
This, of course, doesn’t mean that all of these pandemic-era partnerships work out for the best. For some couples, the push to have deeper conversations and commit to the relationship has been a positive thing. For others, the relationship raced to the next level without enough time to form a stable foundation, ultimately fizzling out as quickly as they started. Either way, these new patterns are indicative of a new era of online dating, an era that may stick around even after our communities return to pre-pandemic lifestyles.
While online dating platforms and apps have commonly been rife with cheating partners scouting a potential sidepiece, these portals have been more heavily accessed by cheaters over the COVID-19 period due to a number of factors. For some, the extended period spent isolated with a spouse has negatively impacted the intimacy between partners, and cheaters turn to online dating sites to help fill that void. For others, cheating behaviour becomes an outlet to relieve the stress typically alleviated through social and recreational activities that were cut off during amid the lockdown. Whatever the reason, online platforms serve as a convenient, discreet playground through which to source an emotional or physical affair, even in the middle of a pandemic.
The proof is in the numbers, with infamous intermarital dating site Ashley Madison reporting waves of new users since COVID-19 first unfurled across North American borders. The site has now grown to a jaw-dropping 70 million members across 50 counties.
Adrianne F., Director of Star Quality Private Investigations Toronto, comments on the swelling number of Infidelity Investigations that her firm has been involved with over the past 12 months:
“I think that some couples perhaps hoped that the lock-down may help to repair any existing cracks in the relationship, forcing each other to work through issues… but we’ve seen the opposite happen. Issues that existed before were only exacerbated by the pandemic, and accordingly more and more people were drawn to cheating behaviours. Many of the cheating spouse cases that we’ve dealt with over the past year, have involved some sort of affair that began, and escalated online. It’s definitely harder for these cheaters to meet in person with their sidepiece amid all the lockdown measures, so these cheaters get creative, but not creative enough to avoid getting caught!”
For more information on Infidelity Investigations offered through Toronto’s leading Private Investigator team, reach out to Star Quality Private Investigations today!