Many Canadians are looking forward to in-person dating during what some are predicting will be a summer of love, and a few dating apps are making it easier for them to do so safely and confidently by adding features that display vaccination status and COVID-19 dating preferences.
In addition to making them feel more comfortable meeting people in person, some online-daters say the new features provide an extra layer of screening as it helps them identify people whose values match their own.
Rodrigo Parente is looking for love in Halifax and added his partially vaccinated status to his online profile. He welcomes the new features.
“It’s a positive thing,” he said, “to show you’re concerned about this pandemic, and you want to do the right thing.”
Dating apps in the U.S. and U.K. have rolled out major campaigns in partnership with the governments to promote vaccination with profile badges and in-app incentives. Their idea is to encourage younger people to get vaccinated — get the jab and you’ll be more likely to get a date.
Quieter in Canada
In Canada, things have been much quieter. Only the dating app Hinge has added vaccination status as an optional profile feature. Bumble has added a COVID Preferences section to state what sorts of activities you’re comfortable with; for example are you up for indoor, outdoor or virtual dates only?
“The males that I’ve been seeing,” Emily Tector said, “some of them have been quite blasé about mask use and social distance, for sure.”
Tector has been online dating off and on throughout the pandemic in Ottawa, but said she didn’t need any dating related incentives to get the jab.
“The incentive for me is not getting COVID.”
She welcomes the new COVID features, but said determining someone’s vaccination status isn’t her first priority.
“The first most important thing for me is the connection, if there’s a bit of chemistry there.”
If it’s there in a video date, then the question of vaccinations would naturally come up when deciding if they want to take things to the next level.
“It’s almost like, what’s your political stance?” Shannon Tebbs said. As a Toronto dating expert and online dating coach with her company Shanny in the City, she’s seen the dating scene change dramatically throughout the pandemic.
Potential partner’s values
While some people have traditionally avoided topics like politics on a first date, fearing it could be too divisive, Tebbs said the pandemic has helped to change that. What a person thinks about masks and vaccines tells you a lot about a potential partner’s values, she said.
“Some people have straight up said that in their profile that they’re an anti-vaxxer,” said Paul Smith. “And obviously it’s a good thing, probably they’re looking for someone with similar views.”
Smith, in Halifax, said that he did a quick survey of his last 12 matches and half of them had added their vaccination status.
Having to confront COVID-19 values right off the bat could actually be helping people get into more serious relationships more quickly, Tebbs said.
With the physical aspect on hold for much of the past year, she said, people are developing deeper emotional connections and building relationships based on open communication and shared values.
She said with the country slowly opening up and people primed for what she calls “rapid relationships” she predicts this summer will see a major relationship boom.
“They’ve waited out the pandemic,” she said. “They’ve worked on self development. They’ve taken time to think about what type of partner they want, what’s important to them.”
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