More and more relationships will be formed online and on dating apps, according to Shar Dubey, the CEO of Match Group, which owns Match.com, Tinder, OkCupid and Hinge. Speaking to Axios, Dubey says she expects "long-lasting, consequential changes" to the dating scene, even after the pandemic is over. "People are going to be using video more" and "the definition of a first date may change," Dubey says. A lot of a couple's first moments "are going to be virtual, hopefully." Dubey has already seen an increase in users looking for partners in countries other than their own, and continuing these relationships without ever having met in person. "Maybe the fact that geography is a constraint to finding love is going to be less important going forward," Dubey adds.
Some 37% of Hinge users say they'd exclusively date someone they had only met virtually, per USA Today. While that may be good for companies like Match, this is "another way the economy could further shift to advantage tech companies at the expense of brick-and-mortar and small businesses" like restaurants, the traditional home of the first date, Axios notes. The good news is that in-person dating is still possible with the proper precautions. Dr. Abraar Karan of Harvard Medical School tells NPR that it's important to talk to a potential partner about the precautions they're taking in the pandemic. You can then gauge the risk of exposure for an in-person meeting. Still, Karan suggests you receive a negative result on a COVID-19 test before getting intimate. (Read more dating stories.)