Dating is back. But Covid has made getting coffee with someone a lot more complicated

Dating is back. But Covid has made getting coffee with someone a lot more complicated

Dating apps
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New York: Kimberly Chao’s first date was canceled after he told her he might have caught the coronavirus. It took three negative tests and multiple video calls before he convinced her to finally meet in person — three months after they started chatting on a dating app.

With restaurants and bars closed at the time, her date suggested they stroll around in New York City’s Soho area to check out protest street art on boarded-up store windows. They wore masks the whole time in their 90-minute meet-up.

“We hugged at the end — even the hug made me kind of nervous,” Chao, a 37-year-old independent financial adviser in New York, recalls that date in early June.

While the pandemic has dramatically changed the playbook for in-person dating, especially in hard-hit areas like New York, it hasn’t stopped stay-at-home singletons from craving human connection. Online dating companies are seeing a rebound in the U.S., with daily downloads of major apps for such connections bouncing back from earlier lows this year to pre-Covid levels, according to estimates by Apptopia.

Daters are adjusting to shifting norms: random hookups are fast being replaced with weeks-long virtual courting. Good hygiene and being socially responsible are now prerequisites, along with a clear agreement on social distancing and masks for in-person meetings.

“We are more bullish on dating than we were when we initiated coverage on Match in early June,” said Morgan Stanley analyst Lauren Cassel, citing higher engagement and pent-up demand for human interaction during this period for Match Group Inc.

In a report this week, her team estimated more people downloaded Match’s Tinder app last quarter during the pandemic than analysts tracking the company had expected. The Dallas-based owner of apps including OkCupid and Hinge finalized its spinoff from IAC/InterActiveCorp. earlier this month and added new board members including actor Ryan Reynolds.

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