Quarantines and social distancing may not seem romantic, but some data indicates that some people are thinking about dating more than before.
Tinder recorded its highest single day of swiping last year, while Bumble hit a milestone of 100 million users. Some apps, like Hinge, are integrating new features, like in-app video chatting, to help people connect online.
Dr. Helen Fisher, a biological anthropologist and the chief science advisor at Match.com, has studied love and relationships for 40 years and she told TODAY's Jenna Bush Hager that the pandemic has led to a major change on dating apps.
"This pandemic has led to more conversations, on all of the dating sites actually, more meaningful conversations, more self-disclosure, more intimacy (and) less anxiety about sex and money," she said on TODAY with Hoda and Jenna, adding that she thinks the pandemic may have actually improved the modern dating world for that reason.
Lateif Killingsworth, a Tinder user, said that he has seen had "more genuine conversations" since the pandemic began.
"If we're swiping on each other, considering that we can't meet up with each other, it has to be something more," he said.
It's not just popular apps seeing an increase in users. New companies, like Daniel Ahmadizadeh's texting service "Quarantine Together," are also seeing success, with more than 30,000 users around the world signing up for the service. Users receive a text message at 6:00 p.m. each evening asking if they've washed their hands; if they reply "yes" they are matched with another user for a 30-minute private conversation.
"With our experience, there's no ghosting," he told Jenna. "When we text to see if you washed your hands, what we're really finding out is that you're available to chat. So when you respond, we know you're on your phone."
The texting service doesn't include any photos, limiting what Ahmadizadeh calls "superficial judgment" and instead focusing on having real, authentic conversations. At the end of the half hour, users are sent a video/audio link, where they can continue the conversation if things are going well.
"We do all the work and we provide a positive experience to really just have a human interaction with someone around the world," Ahmadizadeh said. "It's really incredible to see how, ultimately, what we really desire is this ability to empathize with someone else, to be vulnerable with someone else and for someone to just really connect with us."
People aren't just connecting on apps. Some singles, like Allison Kalleauh, got creative and used social media to try to find a date. Her two sisters created a game show on Instagram called "Date My Sister," where they used mutual friends to find "contestants" to go on a virtual speed dates over Zoom.
"(Zoom dating) is better than the apps," said Kalleauh. "Because you can't hide behind a filtered photo."
Kalleauh told Jenna that after the short virtual sessions, she went on two socially distanced dates. While neither guy worked out, she said that the experience was at least entertaining.
Michaela Farrell, who lives in New York City, also gave the speed-dating game a try. Instead of using social media, she set up a table and chairs in a Brooklyn park with a sign that said "social distance speed date me." In just a few hours, she went on more than 30 speed dates.
"People (would) walk by and they would look at the sign and get interested in it, and like, smile at it," Farrell said. "My friend Michael, he posed as a kind of maitre d' for it, and he would be like, 'Hey, you want to go on a date with M?' And then they would be like 'Yeah, OK, whatever.' And we would go on a two-minute date with each other in the park."
Farrell said that the dates were "really, really lovely and amazing," and a huge relief after weeks of isolation.
"I work in the hospitality industry and the theatre industry, so ... I'm so used to seeing new people everyday," she said. "Looking into people's eyes and having a random conversation with someone was so lovely and important."
Fisher said that no matter how you're trying to make a connection during the pandemic, the dating game is only getting better.
"Romantic love is a very powerful human brain system," she said. "It evolved millions of years ago and it can be triggered instantly. But the vast majority of people are stuck at home ... And what we're really seeing the rise of is this video chatting, and you get to know somebody through video chatting. You can see the way they smile and laugh. You can see their background. You can talk to them for periods of time. You're going to increase that self-disclosure and transparency and I think it's going to lead to more stable relationships."