Townsend Wenzler of Arvada is just getting used to his new home.
Wenzler, 23, moved out to Colorado from Arkansas last August, and he came only knowing some family members and friends who live in the state.
And as COVID-19 closed social places where Wenzler would go to look to find people to date, he and other residents throughout the Denver metro area turned to dating apps like Hinge, Bumble and Tinder to meet other people.
“I don’t think it’s anything crazy, it’s just how it is, and young people are young and dumb and going insane and just wanting to branch out and meet each other. It’s impossible without the bars, so thank God for dating apps,” said Wenzler.
Since mid-March, mobile dating apps like Tinder and Bumble, where users swipe through a feed of profiles to see who is interested in them, have seen an uptick in use.
BBC reported that on March 29, Tinder users made 3 billion swipes worldwide — a record for the app. Other apps like Bumble reported that it saw a 16% increase in messages sent during the week ending on May 1 as opposed to the week ending on March 13. Bumble also has a voice call and video chat feature and reported that it saw a near 70% increase in video calls during the week ending on May 1 in comparison to the week ending on March 13.
Wenzler had a date over to his home that he met on Tinder to cook her dinner during the pandemic. He said he thinks people are bored, and because of that, he believes residents his age aren’t afraid to forgo social distancing recommendations.
“Half of you wants to social distance, while the other part of you is going insane. I had more success (dating) toward the end of (the stay-at-home order) just because initially, people were more freaked out and less willing to go on dates with people they didn’t know,” said Wenzler.
A different way of meeting people
Meredith Gerdes of Denver also uses Bumble to meet other people for dating. She believes residents who are looking to date are realizing how dependent they are on bars and restaurants to meet someone.
“The important message to bring across is no one is meeting anyone in a normal setting,” she said.
Gerdes said dating during the pandemic is restoring a safer environment for women to meet men. She said before the pandemic, some of her friends would go over to men’s houses after their only interactions were on Bumble.
“Rather than meeting someone with dimmed lights and alcohol at a restaurant or bar, you’re meeting in the park in broad daylight. It’s kind of cool because you are forced to be put into a different environment, so therefore, it could almost change the dynamic for whatever the relationship might be,” Gerdes said.
Gerdes has gone on a date to a park with a man who she met on Bumble during the COVID-19 era. She also added that before the pandemic, she met a man on Bumble who was visiting from San Diego, and although he is back in California, the two have been Facetiming and getting to know each other more.
“I am abiding to social distancing, and it has helped me learn more about myself. I feel good coming out of this knowing what I want and getting to learn more about myself,” said Gerdes. “I think COVID-19 has enabled (residents) to get to know each other more.”
Forming a new relationship during the pandemic
Just before the COVID-19 pandemic, Sam Whitley met his now girlfriend Chelsea Benavides through a friend. The two went out together to a restaurant, hit it off and decided they wanted to go out together again.
But COVID-19 forced restaurants to close, so Whitley and Benavides ordered take-out food and ate together at a park.
“After our second date, we decided to do social distance dating because we wanted to be cautious with what’s going and be safe. For a good while, we didn’t see each other at all,” said Whitley.
Wanting to still keep the connection with Benavides, Whitley dropped off a care package to her that included ice cream and dinner. After that, the two spent time video chatting and did online tours of places like Machu Picchu — while still keeping a distance from each other.
Whitley said his big idea was to set up a projector in his driveway with a screen. Benavides sat in her car on Whitley’s driveway, and he sat outside of it and kept a distance as the two watched a movie together.
“I think my mentality was trying to figure out what I would do on a typical date and how I can modify it so that we can still do a date like a typical one in a way to still social distance,” he said.
Whitley said dating during the pandemic has been a crazy time, but it has forced him to think outside the box in terms of setting up dates with Benavides. He added that it has been worth it, because he has had a great time with her.
“I feel like it allowed us to connect, and it caused us to have deeper conversations. It was a time to spend at a park or watch the sunset and catch up on each other’s days and to get to know each other and what our lives are like,” said Whitley. “It was really nice to be able to connect, and because there was so much other stuff going on, we really got to know each other. I really appreciate that.”
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