The future of dating, from in-app VR dates to mental health taking center stage – Mashable

The future of dating, from in-app VR dates to mental health taking center stage – Mashable

We’ve all faced specific pandemic-fueled challenges in the past two years, and daters aren’t any different. Last year, we were forced to date through screens or not at all. This year, we had a hodge-podge of varying desires — and COVID mandates — as we all attempted to navigate dating through a seemingly-endless pandemic.

Given the ride the last couple years have been, what will 2022 bring us in terms of finding love? Dating experts have a few predictions, including a continued use of virtual dating, a push towards serious relationships for some and non-monogamy for others, and an emphasis on mental health and vulnerability. 

Virtual dating will stick around — and VR dating is on its heels

Video dates, a cornerstone of early pandemic romance, are likely here to stay, said Logan Ury, director of relationship science at Hinge. Even with in-person dating on the table (possible variants notwithstanding), Hinge users often use a pre-date call or video chat as a vibe check.

According to data gathered from over 5,000 global Hinge users in December 2020, more than half (65 percent) of users planned on incorporating video dates in the dating process, and Ury said Hinge has seen this expectation come to life. . 

Findings from Match’s 2021 Singles in America survey tells a similar story. Of the 5,000 Americans aged 18 to 75 surveyed, 71 percent said a video date helped determine if they wanted to meet in person, and 63 percent said they’d feel more comfortable on a first date if they video chatted before the meetup. 

Voice features have also been popular on dating apps and in the broader tech world. In addition to adding video components during those initial pandemic days, dating apps also invested in audio features. Bumble added audio messages in late 2020, and Hinge implemented voice prompts for profiles this year. 

“The pandemic really helped us all pay attention to the importance of audio and the importance of voice,” Ury said. Voice notes add an authentic, intimate dimension to a potential match’s profile in a way that text and photos can’t do alone.

Looking into more tech-advanced dating options, Match Group (which owns Tinder, Hinge, and many other dating apps) is planning a dating metaverse, or VR space, unironically called “Single Town.” Users will allegedly be able to interact with others with real-time audio and meet in virtual spaces, like a bar, explained Match Group CEO Shar Dubey in a November investor call. 

A virtual space has similar dangers as a physical space, though: People in Meta’s (Facebook’s) metaverse have already experienced sexual harassment. As such, singles should proceed with caution dating in VR just as they do with online or in-person dating. Dating coach and matchmaker Tennesha Wood urges us to remember that we’re still real people with real experiences, fears, and emotions — no matter the dating method. 

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