Why Video Dates Might Be Here To Stay, Even After COVID

Contributing Sex & Relationships Editor By Kelly Gonsalves
Contributing Sex & Relationships Editor
Kelly Gonsalves is a sex educator and journalist. She received her journalism degree from Northwestern University, and her writings on sex, relationships, identity, and wellness have appeared at The Washington Post, Vice, Teen Vogue, Cosmopolitan, and elsewhere.
Unrecognizable Woman On Her Bed Looking At Her Phone

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Dating has changed a lot in the age of COVID. For some people, their dating lives have creaked to a halt altogether. For others, the loneliness and uncertainty of this time have made them take dating more seriously than ever.

One potentially permanent change to dating culture? The rise of the video date.

A new report from Hinge Labs, the dating app of Hinge's research arm, suggests video dating might be here to stay even as lockdown measures ease.

As it turns out, video dates are way less awkward than we all thought.

Researchers at the lab surveyed over 5,800 people in April and May. Of those polled, 44% have been on a video date, and 52% of those people say they are likely to continue going on video dates even when they're able to meet up safely in real life.

"At the beginning of the pandemic, the Hinge Labs team spoke to users and found that most people had not tried video dating. Flash-forward a few months, and now more than a third of Hinge users have gone on a virtual date in the last week alone," Logan Ury, a dating coach and director of relationship science at Hinge Labs, tells mbg. "And they're enjoying these calls so much that a third of them last for over an hour."

Among those who have not been going on video dates, 58% of them say it's because they think it'll be awkward. But to the contrary, 67% of those who've been on video dates said it felt more natural than expected, and 80% said their video dates weren't awkward at all. Another 63% said they've felt a growing connection with someone just from video dates.

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Video dates solve a lot of common dating app problems.

There's a lot to love about video dates: They allow you to quickly get face-to-face with a potential partner and assess your chemistry with each other rather than falling into the trap of endless texting with a match from a dating app, only to realize immediately that the spark isn't there once you finally meet up IRL weeks later.

"A majority of Hinge users who have tried video chat dating tell us they want to incorporate this experience into their dating process moving forward. We believe that's because our users feel like video chat is a fun, low-pressure 'vibe check' that allows them to get a sense of their match before meeting up in person," says Ury.

Video dates also nicely skip some of the more annoying procedural parts of going on a date: trying to figure out a time and place to meet up, traveling to and from, awkwardly waiting around at a bar hoping the other person isn't gonna ghost you, getting dressed up, etc. It's as easy as hopping on FaceTime from the couch with wine in hand.

And yes, people are starting whole relationships virtually.

Video dates also allow us to skip a lot of the more surface-level aspects of going on dates and focus almost entirely on good conversation, curiosity, and connection.

Can you actually start a real relationship just through virtual dating, though? Apparently yes: One in three people told Hinge they'd be down to be exclusive with someone they've only dated virtually, and 43% said they'd be willing to define the relationship with someone they've only gone on video dates with.

To suss out how pandemic dating has been treating people, dating coach Clara Artschwager recently spoke with several women who've found love during the pandemic. Their stories were mixed but largely promising. Not everyone knows how to make a long-distance relationship work, but the video date itself seems to be exceeding people's expectations.

"My gut feeling is we have a long road of video dating ahead of us, and I think that's great," Artschwager told mbg. "It provides an incredible opportunity to slow down our lives, get to know people in a different way, and feel into what we want these deeper connections in our lives to be."

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