I Assumed a Quarantine Would Quash Online Dating. The Data Tells Me I Was Very, Very Wrong.

Mother Jones illustration; Getty

The coronavirus is a rapidly developing news story, so some of the content in this article might be out of date. Check out our most recent coverage of the coronavirus crisis, and subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.

We may all be hunkering down, wearing the same PJs for eight days now and melting into couch blobs (okay, maybe that’s just me?), but the pandemic hasn’t stopped people from swiping left and right. 

According to data supplied to Mother Jones by Tinder and Bumble, the popular dating apps have seen significant spikes in use as the coronavirus has taken hold.

Bumble reports a 21 percent increase in messages sent over the app in the the US in the week after March 12, with even bigger rises in some coronavirus hotspots. In San Francisco, where officials that week ordered residents to shelter in place, message volume rose by 26 percent. New York City, which closed bars, movie theaters, and clubs that same week, saw a jump of 23 percent. A total of 87 million people are using the app worldwide.

Bumble is actively encouraging its users to take their dates virtual. Those swiping on Bumble will come across banners like “SOCIAL DISTANCING ≠ LONELINESS” and “Get together while staying apart,” urging users to consider using the app’s in-platform video and phone call options. Use of those features is up 21 percent in recent days. The average call or video chat is 15 minutes, which, to this writer, somehow seems both far too long and far too short. 

Tinder, meanwhile, says the volume of messages among its US users during a week in mid-March was 10-15 percent higher each day compared to the week before. On a global level, hard-hit countries like Italy and Spain saw increases of up to 25 percent. The app is also trying to encourage more virtual use—and, apparently, foster global connections—by making Passport, usually a feature just for paying users, open to everyone: Instead of just matching with people close by, you can now match with people all over the world.

“The one-two punch of self isolation and business closures means we’re missing out on the everyday exchanges that make us human, from sharing a smile in Chem class to the chance to Netflix & Chill,” reads a recent Tinder press release announcing the changes to Passport. “And while we all know we need to stay home, the Tinder community has shown us that this doesn’t mean we have to be alone with our thoughts and a tower of Top Ramen.”

We've never been very good at being conservative.

And usually, that serves us well in doing the ambitious, hard-hitting journalism that you turn to Mother Jones for. But it also means we can't afford to come up short when it comes to scratching together the funds it takes to keep our team firing on all cylinders, and the truth is, we finished our budgeting cycle on June 30 about $100,000 short of our online goal.

This is no time to come up short. It's time to fight like hell, as our namesake would tell us to do, for a democracy where minority rule cannot impose an extreme agenda, where facts matter, and where accountability has a chance at the polls and in the press. If you value our reporting and you can right now, please help us dig out of the $100,000 hole we're starting our new budgeting cycle in with an always-needed and always-appreciated donation today.

payment methods

We've never been very good at being conservative.

And usually, that serves us well in doing the ambitious, hard-hitting journalism that you turn to Mother Jones for. But it also means we can't afford to come up short when it comes to scratching together the funds it takes to keep our team firing on all cylinders, and the truth is, we finished our budgeting cycle on June 30 about $100,000 short of our online goal.

This is no time to come up short. It's time to fight like hell, as our namesake would tell us to do, for a democracy where minority rule cannot impose an extreme agenda, where facts matter, and where accountability has a chance at the polls and in the press. If you value our reporting and you can right now, please help us dig out of the $100,000 hole we're starting our new budgeting cycle in with an always-needed and always-appreciated donation today.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate