Pros & Cons of Dating During Covid-19: Digital Dating + Video Chats During Quarantine, Shutdowns, Social Distancing, SIP, Date Ideas, Maskholes


During these trying times, many people are turning to dating apps with increased social isolation and quarantine protocols in place. Dating apps experienced a bit of a lull in January and February but stated to experience an uptick in March once most major cities around the world implemented various levels of quarantine, reduced activities and companies started to encourage and force work from home policies.

With these changes in addition to bar closures, restaurants eliminating dine in customers, people have started to experience some cabin fever. Being stuck at home with family, roommates or alone can be challenging. For those that rely on dating apps to meet people for convenience or primary source of dates, these times will be especially tough.

If you read the news, you will notice a number of topics covering virtual dates, safety etc. because of the interest in dating apps but please note, most of the increase in downloads and usage is mostly on Tinder. Most people during the lockdown are looking for pen pals, entertainment or are lonely. Most people are taking a break from apps like Hinge and Bumble because it’s hard to carry on a conversation given that the lockdowns will last through May (at least).

That said, the information below will help you understand trends, memes, jokes as well as provide guidance on whether it’s wise to use dating apps now and what to expect during social and physical distancing including safety tips and red flags to look out for.

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Loneliness and Entertainment Needs

There is a rise in new users on dating apps and not everyone is looking for genuine connections. Many people are experiencing serious bouts of loneliness while others are bored and are seeking entertainment or virtual pen pals.

Now more than every one needs to identify red flags, filter out those who are a waste of time and figure out if someone is interested in you or interested in the idea of being with someone (anyone) just because he or she is lonely and wants companionship or attention.

Video Chats, Zoom Virtual Dates, Texting, FaceTime After Matching

As for matching and getting to know each other, people have resorted to FaceTime, Zoom, HouseParty, Google Hangouts etc. to connect with others. The issue I have with this is once you move away from dating apps, you are exposing yourself to increased chances for possible scams and more, particularly video blackmail. It becomes infinitely harder to report bad behavior to dating apps and authorities once you move off dating apps and sites.

Given that it is quite possible quarantines and shutdowns will last beyond a few weeks, matches can fizzle out even with good conversation. Online dating is a misnomer. Dating occurs offline and in person. It’s harder and harder these days to meet outside even if you remain 6 feet apart and avoid crowds etc.

On top of that, many people are concerned or frightened about exposure, job security, stock and 401k portfolios, rent, elderly loved ones etc. The news provides daily updates on the severity of the situation at hand with case counts and death counts.

A number dating apps are launching (or have launched) in-app video features. Bumble (had voice and video calling for about 1 year already), Facebook will launch video dates via Messenger soon, launched video calls with matches in April and Tinder will launch video calls later this year.

Click here for virtual date ideas:

Online Dating Red Flags

Given that my stance on dating apps during Covid-19 is to take a break, if you do decide to stay on the apps, use this time to sharpen your skills to identify red flags. Girls who are eager to meet up might be a sign of catfishing with the intention of robbing you in person.

Similarly, guys who urge meeting up or hang out at their place obviously doesn’t care about safety and best practices during quarantine periods. It’s a clear sign they are looking to hookup if they are ignoring all ordinances and local laws during this trying time. Many women are urging video dates to weed out such guys.

Safety During Social Distancing

Even if you are able to meet in person, medical professionals are encouraging unnecessary gatherings even amongst small groups or pairs (particularly strangers). For one, it’s easier to control and track spread of the virus if you limit your contacts. Two, you don’t know the stranger you met from dating apps. Anonymity is a major reason why people use dating apps to begin with.

It’s better to use this time to volunteer, help someone who is over 65 and is unable to leave the house at all or use your time to help others in need like service industry folks and others who don’t have a safety net of working from home, PTO, sick days etc.

Online dating can wait and it’s arguably better as many other people will have conversations that fizzle out anyways once the bans are lifted. Yes, video chats are an easier excuse to screen people but it’s tough to keep chemistry and flirtation going back and forth without an end in site depending on where you live in the world.

Quarantine and Chill

Many guys will use this time to invite girls over to Quarantine and Chill (adaption of Netflix and Chill). Not only is this cliche and creepy it can also be dangerous especially for a first date (see my post on online dating red flags).

Any person who is insisting on making you meet in person or pressuring you to believe they are healthy or it is ok just to hang out is obviously trying to lower your guard. That’s fine if that’s what you seek but generally anyone trying to convince you to do something you are not comfortable with is generally a red flag.

Relocation During Covid-19

Many people are relocating to places with fewer outbreaks and as such it is harder to tell if they are in town temporarily or permanently (some dating apps auto-update locations while others have fixed locations). This ambiguity can add stress early on.

Load up any dating app and you will notice a number of out of towners in your area – do they live here and are quaranting out of the city or are they permanently located elsewhere and browsing locally where you live?

Maskholes: The New Politics Deal-Breaker

In more liberal cities likes San Francisco, there is a sharp divide in proper mask etiquette: running, with small groups, on trails, walking on public streets, rounding corners. This has replaced or at least has been added to the polical divide in dating profiles: Trump-supporters vs everyone else.

There are some pretty heated arguments regarding what is required vs suggested. Even if you can come to an agreement on masks, the issue of dating others is another hot button issue. How do you know if the other person is dating others? How do you know if that other person they are seeing is also abiding by the same mask etiquette? What will your roommates say if you are dating others during covid-19.

It’s one thing to bring home a fling from a bar and have loud sex that annoys your roommates on a Saturday night. It’s another thing if you are increasing your exposure other individuals outside your home beyond the necessary grocery shopping, work commute, exercise etc.

Cliche Coronavirus, Covid-19 Pickup Lines, Memes

Most people are turning to memes to joke about the coronavirus and Covid-19 but as time passes and the number of cases increases, it is becoming more evident that we are experiencing a serious pandemic and these quarantines are not a laughing matter. I personally think it is immature and in poor taste to joke about these current protocols for self-quarantine regardless of age.

If you use these jokes and memes that could lead to an uptick in left-swipes and reduced matches and replies. Yes, many people are using these as ways to connect with others and there are varying degrees of lightheartedness but my advice is to stay clear of these efforts.

Some rather lame attempts at being funny. These overused pickup lines are not only cliche but are used by many others who copy and paste lines.


covid19-coronavirus-pickup-lines, tinder, hinge

Social Distancing: Virtual Date Ideas and Tips

If you are seeking a date, try paying for a pickup order at a local dinner place for her to get a meal. Sync up and listen to a podcast episode and comment over chat line or text.

Discuss what you are doing to help others in time of need (for example I put together this list of places for takeout, gift cards, donations and to-go orders in San Francisco). Coordinate a Netflix party to watch a movie together. Creatively plan a game night where you two can participate remotely.

If you want to be elevate your date ideas, here are a few tips. Find out your date’s neighborhood, pay for a nice bottle of wine and leave it in her name to pick up.

You can also order food for pickup and enjoy at each of your homes. You can try out cooking recipes ala Chopped style and MacGuyvering a meal based on what you have in your kitchen. Use a Zoom background of your favorite bar and see it your date can guess where it’s from. Make a playlist for godsake! Sometimes technology gets in the way of people’s creativity.

For those in San Francisco, clients receive my list for quarantine and social distancing date ideas.

Every App Is An International Dating App – Free Tinder Passport + Bumble Travel Mode

Many sites like Tinder are offering free international roaming features (Tinder Free Passport) which allow users to chat, flirt and possibly video chat with users around the world. Bumble has also made Travel Mode free (your profile will state where you are based and where you are swiping from).

The appeal can be tempting but usually more scams are committed from users overseas thus are hard to identify, track down and prosecute.

Bumble Whole Country

During Covid-19, Bumble is offering it’s Travel Mode for free meaning there is no radius and you can meet people all over the country (radius maximum = whole country).

Final Thoughts

With all that said, taking things slow and putting in time (from a safe distance) to get to know someone could reap huge benefits. Many people rush swipes, conversations and dates and video chats can help weed out people who are not looking for the same thing you are.

Quarantine dates can reduce external distractions i.e. loud noise, crowded bars, cute bartenders, busy work schedule and rushing over to dates in time.

Don’t overly invest in someone who you have not met as in person chemistry may not live up to the hype and people can make the mistake in putting too much pressure on first in person dates after a number of texts and video chats. Use these video dates to analyze homes, messiness, effort (dressing up), housewares etc.

Ask yourself – do we have actual chemistry or is it the circumstances at hand that we are bonding?

Take things slow, take care of yourself and others and use this time wisely. Companies during difficult times focus on building their core product rather than trying to sell their products in a tough market.

People In Relationships Are Using Dating Apps More Than Usual

About Eddie Hernandez 

Eddie Hernandez is a professional photographer specializing in natural, candid online dating photos. Featured in the SFGate, ABC7News, East Bay Express, Salon; contributor to Good Men Project, Plenty Of Fish and Meddle. In addition to photos, he provides guidance around app choice, bio optimization, messaging techniques, wardrobe advice and date ideas.

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