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Digital Dating: How Do You Keep A Connection Going?

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PHILADELPHIA (WLVT) If you’re looking for romance online, you’re not alone.

Tech Takeover: Watch more tech reports from PBS39's Megan Frank

According to a Stanford University study, online dating is the most common way that couples meet in the US. As more daters go digital, how do they keep a connection going?

Julianne Cantarella of New Jersey’s Matchmaker says she’s noticed that people are becoming more serious about finding the right person as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

"People are thinking, wow, I’ve experienced what it’s like to be isolated and alone. Before Covid-19, people had friends and family they could see. Now, they’re thinking, I want to make having someone special in my life a priority," Cantarella told PBS39.

Match, one of the largest dating sites in the US, says only six percent of its users were open to video dates before Covid-19. Now, the company reports that 70 percent of its users are willing to try a video date.

"I’m all for the video chats, definitely, but there’s something about seeing someone in person and their facial expressions and body language that makes all the difference," said Cantarella. "You may have a great video chat with someone, but I wouldn’t hang your hat on the notion that you’ve found your soul mate until you meet them in person."

Dating app Bumble has a new feature that allows users to add a badge to their profiles that signifies what kind of dates they’re comfortable with, like virtual or socially distanced. Lex, an app that caters to the LGBTQ community, allows users to include Covid-19 or antibody test results on their profile page.

"If you’re connecting with someone, you very well may want to ask them if they had coronavirus, if they’ve traveled out of the state, it’s OK to ask! This is about your safety and it’s important," she added.

PBS39 caught up with Philadelphia resident Samantha Magaard on her lunch break in Conshohocken. While she prefers to meet people in person, she says she’s been using dating apps due to the pandemic.

"You’re basically forced to go onto dating apps," Magaard told PBS39. "You’re talking to several people at once, and then you get attached to one. The next day, they ghost you and you never hear from them again. I had one guy who offered to take me to mini golf. I thought that was great! I think meeting outside right now is the best option."

Cantarella suggests that people get creative when it comes to digital dating.

"My clients have logged onto a museum tour together to discuss art, others went on a virtual picnic," she said.

Quakertown resident Joe Rovner says it can be tough to make connections virtually.

"When you’re navigating the minefield that is dating, it’s hard because people are wearing masks already, not to be too Freudian, and now they’re literally wearing masks, too," Rovner told PBS39. "I’ve had a few dates where all you do is talk on Zoom and drink wine."

As to whether or not people can find love during a pandemic, Cantarella is optimistic.

"I’m date coaching a 72-year-old woman right now, and she is crushing it online! It can happen at any time," she said. "I just say, stay true to your values. This is not the time to say anything goes. If someone makes you feel uncomfortable and they say, come on, just meet me, step away."

You can watch the video version of this story in the player below.

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