Who’s Still Swiping on the Dating Apps?
03.20.20

Are we more likely to fall in love or out of love in the time of self-quarantine? Curious about the inner-workings of dating apps in a moment of widespread social distancing, I lifted the hood of the thing and was surprised by how much I found percolating inside. Thanks to a robust survey conducted with MR community members between 20 and 40, and an inside job DMing people interview questions on my app of choice, I gathered some intel: everything ranging from surefire pick-up lines to quarantine dating tactics and musings on how the state of dating might evolve in the near future. Keep scrolling to take a spin through the intestines of what virtual romance looks like right now.

  • “Because we can’t go anywhere, and I don’t want to commit to endless weeks of speaking to a stranger without the possibility of meeting up!”
  • “I have a pretty good batch of matches I’ve taken off-app.”
  • “Because my past hookups are sliding into my Instagram DMs.”
  • “Social distancing makes it seem more like an annoyance than an actual option right now.”
  • “I’m not leaving my self-isolated bubble to go meet anyone these days, so why even bother chatting online?”
  • “It feels odd. I look when I get a like, but I’m not using apps for text buddies.”
  • “I actually met someone I really really like (eep!) the Sunday before everything started shutting down. I wasn’t going to date with a global pandemic, but then I met an amazing man right when the panic in the U.S. ramped up, and, well, now I’m trying to figure out my next steps.”
What's your go-to pick up line to get a conversation going right now?
  • “I let my matches start a conversation.”
  • “How’re you spending your quaran-time?”
  • Pancakes or waffles? (It’s quite the conversation starter. And everyone has strong breakfast carb opinions.)”
  • “Accepting FaceTime dates only.”
  • “Show me your grocery list.”
  • “Generally on Tinder and Hinge, I let guys do the legwork. On Bumble, I’ve been just waving hello or directly asking how their quarantine is going.”
  • “Nothing gimmicky is needed at this time, I feel.”
  • “Can’t spell quarantine without u,r,a,q,t, how’s it going?”
  • “What is one thing you wish you could be doing right now?”
  • “You honestly don’t need one, it seems like everyone just wants to chat with another human.”
  • “I usually wait for the other person to start right now. It feels weird to ask what’s up or how are you?”
  • “I swipe but can’t really start a chat right now.”
  • “Same as usual—just something from their profile because I don’t want to look like I’m catastrophizing—although I definitely am!”
  • “I normally just say I love you and see how that goes (usually quite well).”

What kind of messages are you receiving?

  • “Men wanting to go on socially responsible walks!!! I had a Zoom date last night.”
  • “Haven’t matched with anyone new since this whole fiasco.”
  • “25% ‘fwb?’, 50% half-assed greeting without any follow-up, 24% weird(!) pickup lines/compliments, and 1% interested and engaged questions!”
  • “Literally since the U.K. finally went into some form of lockdown, every match is messaging. In times of boredom, men turn to Hinge.”
  • “A lot of references to quarantining together, or offers to do online classes for each other.”
  • “Positive ones! Connections are being made and people have more time to slow down and connect. Found much more intentional connections are happening right now through Bumble, at least!”
  • “Invitations to co-quarantine or escape into nature. Survivalist dates.”
  • “People are down for UberEats, wine and a video chat! Also, isolation clearly has some people feeling frisky and not afraid to be candid about it…”
  • “Honestly I think people are having more fun chatting right now. People seem less rushed and more interested in just going back and forth.”
  • “People are honestly checking in to see if I’m okay and how I’m doing. I’ve had people offer to get supplies or do a grocery run for me.”
  • “Much more conversationally heavy ones than normal.”
  • “The absolute WORST covid-19 puns. Definitely stolen from viral tweets.”
  • “I like ur dog.”
What are you talking about?
  • “Making pizza.”
  • “Confinement and the world situation.”
  • “I’ve been video chatting with a few matches on Bumble to check in on them during this time. Even though we have never met personally, it’s important to stay connected with others. It’s been really helping with loneliness!”
  • “We talk a lot about fashion! Still getting dressed for working-from-home, haha.”
  • “Horticulture, Schitt’s Creek, sweet potato fries, Lord of the Rings, and of course, coronavirus.”
  • “Mainly how weird it is to move back in with parents suddenly after being in college all year.”
  • “Netflix documentaries, social distancing, and losing our jobs.”
  • “Netflix shows to watch, the internet right now, bucket lists.”
  • “How we’re passing the time, likes/dislikes, sending covid memes, planning out future dates, dystopia dating.”
  • “Mostly the present moment. Some talk of fun date ideas for the future when we can leave the house again.”
  • “A lot of daily recaps. A lot of recipe- and music-sharing.”
  • “Sex and viruses.”
  • “WFH, daily life, vague plans of what we want to do when we can ‘finally meet.’ Someone asked me what my favorite dinosaur was the other day, that snowballed into an interesting conversation.”
  • “Food we’re craving, restaurants/wine recommendations after all the quarantine is over. People are having regrets on not trying/going to that place you’ve had on your list for months.”
  • “How coronavirus is impacting them, how it’s going to change dating, what we will miss when coronavirus lockdown is over, the joy of a hug, couple envy.”
Are you sliding into anyone's DMs? If yes, whose?
  • “Some TikTokers.”
  • “No. Do people really do that? Does it work?”
  • “Nah. I’ve never been good at that.”
  • “F*ckboi from my hometown.”
  • “Slid into an old high school classmate’s DMs. He responded for a while, then left me on read.”
  • “I haven’t yet…talk to me on quarantine week 3.”
  • “Old boyfriends/crushes. Probably (definitely) a bad idea.”
  • “No, but have had several old flames resurface.”
  • “Not really, except people who put their Instagram handles on the ‘Love is Quarantine’ spreadsheet.”
  • “Not really, but I’m receiving a couple.”
  • “Yes. If you don’t shoot your shot, then you’re only going to end up with guys that like you, not guys you like.”
  • “The other day I messaged the band Haim but only because I was heartbroken I couldn’t go to their secret deli tour stop in D.C.”
How long are you planning to keep the conversations going?
  • “Until we run out of things to say.”
  • “As long as my boredom lasts.”
  • “Undecided but intrigued to see.”
  • “Who knows! Some want to wife me once we exit the crisis.”
  • “Days.”
  • “Until we (finally) go on a date.”
  • “For a while! I think video chat can actually be amazing!”
  • “Until they turn out to be douches?”
  • “Until I get bored?”
  • “As long as we keep having good conversations.”
  • “Until this whole ordeal is over.”
  • “As long as they last! Some seem circumstantial, and others are deeper and potentially longer.”
  • “Up to 2 weeks, then the conversation dies (them’s the rules).”
  • “No idea. It’s just been a nice distraction.”
  • “The eternal mystery.”
  • “As👏long 👏as 👏it 👏takes👏”
  • “Unsure, depends how long this quarantine lasts. I’d rather message these random boys than perhaps message an ex for comfort because that is never a good idea.”
  • “Until they get creepy (most inherently do).”
  • “Weirdly, either for 30 minutes or in perpetuity.”
  • “As long as they keep replying.”
  • “Until they ask me out on a real date or FaceTime date at least?”
  • “My plan is to talk to them for a long time. I definitely feel like the quarantine is a good opportunity to really get to know someone, and figure out their intentions.”
  • “As long as it’s fun! Though this time of introspection has made me realize that I want a real relationship.”
  • “Probably until it’s all over.”
  • “Honestly, I think this is kind of nice because you actually have ALL the time in the world to really get to know each other.”
  • “I have no clue honestly. I’m using this free time to get some internet-dating practice, so that once we’re free from our apartments, then it’s off to the races!”
If you're "going on dates," how are you doing so? (e.g., FaceTime? Zoom? Park walks six feet apart?)
  • “One dude and I had a Zoom call where we showed off our pantries full of dried beans. Sexy stuff.”
  • “I have plans to go look at plants with a guy in a week or so. Outside, maximum separation, but plenty to talk about for two botanists.”
  • “Bumble has a video option now! So it’s also easier to confirm the person is who they say they are! The verification check beside their names helps too, but it’s easier than using other options or having to exchange numbers, especially since we don’t know what it’ll look like. (I don’t want to give out my number to randos all the time.)”
  • “Was asked on a park picnic date (I wish that was usually the case) since everything is closed.”
  • “FaceTime!”
  • “So I actually did this experiment with a guy from Tinder last week. We established rules: The main one was that we had to stay very far away from each other and could only text. No face-to-face contact or hearing each other out loud. We met by the main branch of the Brooklyn Library and texted each other from afar. I could see him, but he was definitely far enough away that anyone around us did not know what was going on. I complimented him on his blue socks, and his cool tote bag, and we texted for about an hour, and eventually we moved around a little bit. By the end of this, he was situated a few yards across from me, and it actually felt a little dangerous. Honestly this was a super fun way to spend a few hours and still a safe way to go on a ‘date.’ After, he said he thought it was actually pretty weird, but I really loved it. Before we parted ways in person, he texted, ‘Let’s leave wanting more.’ And I did.”
  • “I haven’t gone on any—but one guy suggested we sit on opposite sides of the Gowanus Canal (the halfway point between us) and just shout at each other.”
  • “Walks six feet apart—feels so pure and pressure free.”
  • “I’ve been invited to mixers through Here / Now. They’re doing speed dating online. I have friends in the Bay Area who have been going on dates in the forest.”
  • “A guy asked me to meet for coffee, and I then had to urge him to be more socially responsible and self-isolate. Hopefully the next guy will just ask to call over WhatsApp.”
  • “When I suggested a FaceTime date, my match laughed it off, but I convinced him to give it a shot. It was actually really funny and a nice experience. We had some drinks, gave each other virtual house tours and talked about our go-to recipes. It was such a great, low-commitment way to introduce yourself to someone, and yet strangely intimate without overstepping boundaries. 10/10 would recommend!”
  • “How do you gracefully get out of a date-walk when it’s not interesting anymore? You still have to go back to where you started!”

“Thanksgiving and Christmas are the usual times for hometown exes to hookup, but after being home for only a week, all of my girlfriends have already had at least one high school boyfriend hit them up. I feel like there’s going to be an unprecedented amount of exes getting back together this spring/summer.”

“I plan on writing to an ex-flame. I met her on a dating app, fell in love, and basically fled the situation. I was in a weird place and felt too much too soon…. I will finally send her that apology email that has been sitting in my drafts folder for ages.”

Ruminations on socially distant romance
  • “It feels so lovely and sweet to hear about how single humans are taking such good care of themselves (which I think is directly indicative of how they will treat a partner).”
  • “I met a guy on Hinge back in October. We’ve been seeing each other casually since then. We decided to flee the city for outdoor space. He is currently in Alabama with me and my parents for the next month. It’s a really weird time in our lives, might as well make it weirder.”
  • “Way more Tinder likes than usual, and guys on Hinge are way more comfortable being pen pal types than usual!!!”
  • “It’s really hard to be single right now.”
  • “I think it’s funny how long it’s taking people to respond back, especially if they’re working from home. I get they’re still working, but over 24 hours!”
  • “A guy just offered to buy me a $119 vibrator, what a gent.”
  • “If they stick with me through the quarantine, maybe they’re keepers. That makes for a good meet-cute story for our children!”
  • “I’m curious to know how many babies are going to be born 9 months from now.”

Graphics by Lorenza Centi.


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