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Dating App Hinge Expects Video Dating To Remain Popular After Pandemic

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

The pandemic has made for a challenging year for single people looking for love. Public health guidelines and concerns over the virus made it tough to meet new people.

JUSTIN MCLEOD: People can't meet the way that they were meeting outside of dating apps - so, you know, at the gym or at a party or at a wedding.

MARTIN: This is Justin McCleod, the CEO and founder of Hinge, a dating app.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Dating apps including Hinge saw a spike in users at the beginning of the pandemic. And with grabbing a coffee or getting a drink largely off the table, they had to get creative.

MCLEOD: The big change has been video dating. So that's something that people very rarely did before the pandemic, and now people are - they're using it instead of meeting up with people for a while just to get a sense of someone and create that initial sense of connection.

INSKEEP: Before COVID - do you remember there was a time before COVID? - only a few dating apps even offered a video service, but McCleod says he expects video dates to be popular well after the pandemic ends.

MARTIN: NPR actually talked to some pandemic daters last year, including Andrew Strofford, who says video dating wasn't that bad.

ANDREW STROFFORD: It's very similar to just meeting up with someone for coffee. It's a little nerve-wracking at first, but then, yeah, you just start talking, and you can ease right into it. You crack a joke here and there, and if they actually laugh, it just makes you feel really good.

INSKEEP: If they actually laugh. But nothing beats sitting right across the table, and with more Americans getting vaccinated daily and cities starting to loosen the health guidelines, the dating app industry is expecting a busy summer.

MCLEOD: Yeah, I mean, I think we've actually been calling it the relationship renaissance because what we've been finding is that users are really prioritizing their relationships ahead of other things. So finding a partner is right at the top of their list now, coming out of the pandemic.

MARTIN: OK, so finally getting to go on in-person dates is one thing, but you also have to remember how to make conversation with new people outside of a Zoom screen.

(SOUNDBITE OF EVOCATIV'S "INGENUE") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.