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From safer dates to a more level gender playing field, here’s how Covid-19 and dating apps have changed the dating space for good

It is no secret that over the last two years, dating has changed dramatically. From more virtual and creative dates to our ever-evolving ability (or lack thereof) to socialise, the single and ready to mingle crowd live in a very different world than we did before. 

See also: 5 Tips For A Smooth Post-Lockdown Date

Dating apps are not new but it was never the sole or primary way that we connected with potential lovers. Rather, we relied on other platforms or avenues such as school, work and chance encounters. 

Once the pandemic hit in 2020, dating app usage shot up with Tinder suddenly recording its highest single day of swiping while Bumble hit a milestone of 100 million users.

In fact, recently, Bumble conducted a Modern Relationships Study and found that nearly one in three women in Singapore said their usage of dating apps increased during this period, while two in five Singapore men said they used dating apps more often now. 

Dating apps also have begun adding things like vaccination buttons, video and voice calling features to their apps and more as the pandemic progresses and these apps become more vital. 

All this points to a society that enjoys the ability to use a dating app whenever they want and the freedom to screen potential dates and turn people down easily.

In fact, there is certainly a lot of pros to staying behind the screen and it looks like this new way of dating is here to stay even as Singapore works towards opening up the country more as it treats Covid-19 as endemic

Though we can now dine out in groups of two again, the country still stands divided on the pros and cons of virtual dates versus in-person ones. 

45 per cent of people surveyed want to go on socially distanced dates while just over 45 per cent are happy to go on regular in-person dates. Less than 10 per cent though want to date virtually only now that in-person dating is back on the agenda.

That said, don’t mistake this for a decreased desire for genuine connection and an increase in flippant or cursory encounters. 

In fact, Bumble found that nearly half of people in Singapore still seek lasting connections and long-term relationships when dating or meeting new people online. 

Women taking control

With the increase in dating app usage, there has also clearly been a shift when it comes to women exercising their agency and having control within their dating lives. 

“Dating can be a very fraught undertaking in today’s world, not least because of gender inequalities and sticky traditional gender roles,” said Kelly Leow, Aware’s communications manager at a panel organised by Bumble this week on how the pandemic has modernised dating. 

True enough, one of the key draws of Bumble, in particular, is that women get to make the first move at all times.

With more people becoming supportive of gender equality in recent years, this is especially crucial because it empowers women and gives them agency and choice when it comes to choosing their partners rather than them sitting back and waiting for people to come to them which was often the case even on dating apps before the pandemic began. 

In fact, only 41 per cent of women in Singapore believe men should make the first move now while one in five men in Singapore believe they should be the ones making the first move. 

This could largely be why this new form of dating is here to stay. 

“By throwing the dating rulebook out the window and by inviting women to exercise their agency and have control within their dating lives by making the first move, we are creating a space for people to form meaningful connections that lead to lasting relationships,” said Lucille McCart, Bumble’s APAC director.

She added that based on their past relationships, more than half of single people in Singapore said that men typically made the first move during dating or in relationships. 

However, nearly half of the women surveyed agreed that they would have missed out on a romantic opportunity if they failed to make the first move. 

True enough, this pandemic has certainly shifted the ways in which both women and men look at gender roles in the dating space as well as the way we connect with people. More women are realising that they have as much of a role to play in dating and the result is a more equal playing field which we are certainly here for.

We still don’t know how our attitudes to dating will continue to change as the pandemic drags on but we do know that we have seen a lot of positive changes so far and that clearly, the modern dating space has evolved drastically and positively for both men and women alike.  

See also: Facebook Launches New Kindness-Centred Dating App, Sparked

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