MIAMI –– Twenty-six-year-old Ivanna Agudo is trying to stay socially distant during the coronavirus pandemic. But she’s not afraid of catching the love bug.
“Having that buddy to kinda, you know, brave through the pandemic with and tackle the grocery store hassles and whatnot, is really important,” said Agudo.
Gone are the days of meeting potential partners at social events or through friends. In response, more people are turning to matchmakers and dating apps to find love.
“This guy, he is marked as 'socially distant,' he is looking for a relationship, he likes dogs,” Agudo explains, while scrolling through her potential matches on Tinder and Bumble.
These apps are providing updated features, like the “socially distant” tag, as well as information on health screenings and the facilitation of video dates. Users say video dates provide a zero-contact way to suss out any dealbreakers before deciding whether or not to meet up.
“I ask them when they last got tested, have they had COVID. Like, are they having any symptoms?” Agudo said.
“A lot of people have switched their pictures to incorporate masks," she added. "A lot of people have changed their captions to some corona-friendly statements, such as, 'Hit me up for toilet paper,' or 'Need Clorox wipes? Got you covered…'”
But there is a silver lining to virtual dating, she claimed. There's fewer first-date jitters, and daters have more time to get to know each other. And more people are apparently open to the idea than ever before: A recent study by Match.com shows that nearly 1 in 4 people would become exclusive with someone they have never met in person.
“You're forced to have these deep conversations and ask them about their values. Ask them what they like to do in their spare time, their hobbies, and then decide … OK, do I want to risk meeting them in person while staying six feet apart? Maybe. Or is this someone that … isn’t worth it,” Agudo said.
Agudo said deciding to meet up in person takes much longer than before. Daters often go back-and-forth on whether or not they want to take that risk, she claims.
“Now, if you get to that point of seeing them in person, it is kind of like a big reveal," she said. "It's like a bride when they undo the veil at the altar. It's similar to that in a weird way, where it's like you're unveiling yourself by taking off your mask and seeing them for the first time.”
Miami-based matchmaker April Davis founded Luma matchmaking and said she has helped thousands of people find love.
“We're really realizing, hey, I don't want to go through this pandemic alone, I want to find that person,” said Davis.
She claimed, even during a pandemic, business is booming.
“We actually had our busiest July ever, which is interesting because usually, July is really slow for us. But it was our busiest month so far this year, which is incredible,” Davis said.
Davis said safety is also a priority for her agency and they are taking the same precautions as dating apps. She gives her clients camera-ready tips ahead of time, and advice on how to put their best virtual foot forward.
“Now, more than ever, people are interested in each other's health and well-being. We've had people even say, 'OK, I will go on a date with you as long as you go and get a COVID test and if it comes back negative and I'll meet you in person,'” Davis said.
Even though the world may be on pause, Agudo is not letting that stop her from finding her person, saying, “Yeah, pandemic dating is hard, but hasn’t dating always been difficult?"