Online dating has become the safest option for many during pandemic times, but a ‘two-dose summer’ in Ontario means that in-person meetups may also be heating up.
As Ontario continues to roll out the Roadmap to Reopen plan, some will begin meeting potential partners in person.
In preparation for re-entry to physical dating, many dating services are adding pandemic-specific details to online profiles and bios.
Hinge, an online dating app, has incorporated a ‘vaccine status’ button option that prompts users to choose between ‘vaccinated,’ ‘partially vaccinated,’ ‘not yet vaccinated’ and ‘prefer not to say.’
Canadian Hinge users started seeing the vaccine feature pop up on their apps over the last week, but many pandemic features on popular dating apps remain U.S.- and U.K.-specific.
Hinge has not responded to several requests for comment for this story.
While disclosing this information is optional, other apps and dating services are following suit.
“It’s quite amazing, really, that this has become something that two years ago it was something that wasn’t even on our radar,” says Linda Miller, CEO of Misty River Introductions. “Now it’s becoming, you know, one of the top two or three questions that people ask about when we match them with someone.”
Miller says her business is booming as many people have a better appreciation for relationships after over a year of isolation.
“It’s sort of taken us back to where there’s a lot more courtship going on. And I think that’s great to see and it makes people value relationships more,” she says. “So instead of, you know, a steady diet of meeting a different person every week, people are taking things a little bit more seriously because they have to.”
Dating app Bumble has taken it one step further, allowing users to specify what types of dates they are comfortable going on.
“Bumble has seen a steady increase in the number of people who have included the word ‘vaccine’ or ‘vaccinated’ in their Bumble profiles after the first COVID-19 vaccines were administered in December,” says a Bumble spokesperson.
“Bumble also currently offers a COVID Preferences Center right within the app which allows the Bumble community across the globe to indicate what kind of dates they feel comfortable going on – whether virtual, socially distanced, or socially distanced with a mask.”
Global News took to the streets of Kingston, Ont., for reaction to these changes:
“I think that with online dating, obviously you pick and choose which parts of you that you want to share with other people, and I think that especially vaccination status is really important just to ensure that you’re interacting with people that you feel comfortable with,” says Rylee North.
“I don’t necessarily think that anyone should be pressured to have their vaccination status on there, but for me, personally, I know it would give me peace of mind to know where I’m coming from, know where somebody else is coming from. And I think that would make the transition into physical dating a lot easier.”
Ben Nethercott has noticed his friends beginning to date in person again.
“People are starting to get back into it so I think this change is something that’s super important,” he says. “When you’re online dating you don’t really know who the person is until you meet up with them and sometimes they don’t even match their picture. But if at least they tell you their vaccination status that kind of adds a measure of safety, and you kind of want to know if people are being safe during the pandemic because there’s a lot going on.”
Now in Step 1 of Ontario’s Roadmap to Reopen, outdoor gatherings of up to 10 people are allowed.