Most dating apps report increased usage since March, and noticeable changes in daters’ attitudes. Singles in America surveyed 5,000 Americans and found that 58 percent of people who use dating apps say they have shifted toward more intentional dating since the pandemic. Of those surveyed, 69 percent are being more honest with potential partners and 63 percent are spending more time getting to know them. The dating site OkCupid, where I am a scientific adviser, also noticed a 20 percent decline in users seeking a hookup. These numbers are optimistic news for people looking for a relationship, given that research finds that couples who spend time getting to know each other before having sex have happier relationships later on. Prioritizing emotional connection allows romantic relationships to ignite via a slow simmer, rather than to burn out quickly.
Jeffrey Hall, the director of the Relationships and Technology Lab at the University of Kansas, is not surprised by these promising trends. “When you take a single person who is not getting their social needs met by all of the people who they would normally see outside of their home, they actually have emotional bandwidth to engage in a much deeper way,” Hall told me. “So I would guess that slowing down is a representation of a greater level of need, and a lot more energy to be able to invest in those types of conversations.”