Dating industry goes virtual as pandemic continues

Coronavirus New Mexico

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Companies are setting up virtual dates for singles to meet during the coronavirus pandemic. With social distancing in place, traditional dates like taking someone to dinner, aren’t happening much anymore.

“It definitely has impacted of course the business aspect of things and it’s definitely impacted how people are meeting,” said Sandra Hatton, Vice President of Sales for matchmaking service, It’s Just Lunch. “Luckily and thankfully, it really has still allowed people the opportunity to connect.”

It’s Just Lunch operates in select cities in the U.S. and around the world, including in Albuquerque. Hatton says they had to think quickly when restaurants started closing and started setting their clients up on ‘virtual dates’ instead.

“Obviously, virtual dating was the first for that, what can we do, how can we do that, so just like you and I are talking on Zoom, we began immediately setting up Zoom dates,” said Hatton. “It has impacted the way in which people are meeting but we haven’t really changed our processes and how we’re connecting people and what we’re connecting them on.”

Hatton says it’s been a learning curve since the coronavirus spread and public health orders were put in place. For It’s Just Lunch, business has actually picked up as the quarantine extends.

“I think we definitely saw more people reaching out a few weeks to a month into quarantine because at first they were thinking, this isn’t going to last very long,” said Hatton. “I think for singles, especially, if you’re single and you don’t want to be and you’re alone in a time of uncertainty, it definitely shines a light on what’s important.”

Online dating sites and apps are also making the jump to virtual dating. Match.com is promoting ‘dating while distancing’ with games and tips. The site even encourages singles to embrace the distant changes to dating, comparing them to the Netflix show ‘Love is Blind’ where couples don’t meet face-to-face until they’re engaged.

The app Bumble, which says video chats increased 56% in late March, is offering up ideas for virtual dates. Hatton says for singles along during this time now is the time to make that jump.

“It is definitely a different world out there for dating,” said Hatton. “This is the time to get out there and be proactive, especially if it’s important to you, no matter which way that is.”

It’s Just Lunch says even as things open up, they’re continuing to see a mix of the way people want to meet other singles. While some still want to play it safe and date virtually for now, others are ready to get out of the house and meet someone in-person.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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