What to Know About Dating Now

Amanda Harper


In many ways, COVID has flipped the script on online dating. Whether you’re a long-time singleton looking to mingle or someone looking for true love, here’s what you should know!

Dating sites have an incredible amount of dating data available to them. The nerds at OkCupid and Bumble love filtering through their sites’ success stories to help users better understand what works, what doesn’t, and what’s trending. Both sites saw huge shifts in how users are approaching dating last year, and they’re predicting that even as vaccines roll out, people will still be taking the COVID-era approach with them into the rest of 2021.

Daters Without Borders

The pandemic changed the way people think of dating, making dating from afar seem more possible than ever. More than 1.5 million OkCupid users say they’re now open to long-distance. And while you may have looked only within Lexington for dates, why not open that up to surrounding counties? Users also reevaluated what cultural “borders” they had previously built up. By casting a wider net, more people found love where they had previously said “no thanks.”

Selfies Matter

With more people on dating apps than ever, your selfie is your first impression. Find ways to not only convey your stunning outer self, but also your beautiful inner self.

OkCupid offers this helpful tip: “95% of daters think smiling selfies are best.” The folks at Bumble agree, adding that eye contact is another important aspect: “Our data shows that profiles with four or more photos receive the most matches,” they explain. “The best photos are recent and also show a slice of your actual life; if your dog is the center of your world, include a cute snap of you and the pup.”

Slowwww Downnnnn

“Among 1 million respondents during lockdown, 84% of people on OkCupid think it’s important to have an emotional connection before a physical one,” the report states. So rather than scheduling a first date right off the bat, try messaging first. In fact, 46% of Bumble users reported that they actually preferred virtual dates to meeting up in person right away.

Adventure Time

We’re all ready to get outside. That means that you might be trading cute heels in for hiking boots. Grab a picnic, load up your bike and get ready to get active!

“New Dawn Daters”

Bumble is expecting that nearly a quarter of their new users will be people who ended long-term relationships during COVID. According to the report, “They’re now single and ready to start dating again, but many are entirely new to dating apps and understandably anxious about dating right now.” This means they’re not as familiar with “the game” of online dating... which could mean a refreshing change of pace for you!

What’s Your Sign?

When Bumble added a zodiac badge to profiles, they noted that people who shared their signs saw up to a 60% increase in matches. Astrology is more popular than ever, so even if you think it’s a bunch of hooey, it’s worth putting your sign out there.

When to Get Social

According to a Match.com survey, the majority of people wait to hit “friend” until they’ve been on a few dates. At least three seems like a good rule to institute. Any earlier and you may appear to be trying to get too many details too soon. It also prevents any awkwardness if things should happen to not work out between you.

There are always exceptions to the rule. If the person is very public, their personal bubble is probably a little wider. But as a person trying to schedule a date, hitting the “Friend” or “Follow” button could still feel like a weird overstep.

Which App or Site?

Tinder has 57 million users, so using it will definitely mean the biggest pool for potential matches. One of the drawbacks of Tinder is that it tends to keep things on a very superficial level. Users often swipe based on photos rather than bothering to read profiles. Many users view it as a casual dating (or hookup) app. While your matches are based on the preferences you enter, those too are pretty surface-level.

Bumble is a close second in number of users. It offers more personalized matches based on slightly deeper metrics. Users also tend to report an overall better experience.

Match.com has over 35 million users and its unique matching algorithm matches you on some unique aspects. It can exclude people who you might’ve otherwise chosen. The paid aspect of Match.com may help offer higher-quality potential matches, and more users will be interested in Long Term Relationships.

eHarmony is similar in that respect. They have a reputation as the “serious” dating site, and it’s well-earned. Their algorithm actually steers you away from matches you might otherwise pick for yourself (their logic being that your best match is going to be compatible on deeper levels than some of the snap judgments you might make on, say, Tinder.)

No matter which service you select, our only rules are these: be honest, be open, be upfront and be safe. Beyond that? Get out there and make some connections!