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Finding love at a social distance

Experts say dating is not canceled during the pandemic.

NORFOLK, Va. — The New Year and Valentine's Day may have you thinking about new love. But how can you meet someone and really get to know them during a pandemic?

13News Now spoke to experts from two popular dating companies and found out dating is not canceled!

The isolation, the quarantine, the faces half-hidden beneath masks can make it a tough time to look for love.  Clare O'Connor heads up Editorial Content for the dating site Bumble. She said they are seeing a wide range of users of different ages, ethnic backgrounds, and gender preferences... especially what they call "new dawn daters".

 "These are folks who went through a breakup in the pandemic,  folks who are maybe separated from a loved one during the pandemic or maybe with someone 24/7 and they saw a side of this person maybe they hadn't necessarily seen before," said O'Connor.

Bumble allows the woman in heterosexual relationships to make the first move.

"And what we found and what our communities found over the years is that in these heterosexual matches, it really sets the table from the start for more equity, respect, and an element for security and safety, too," O'Connor said.

She says clients have a lot of questions so they put together a guide called "Dating 101 in 2021."

"Whether they wanted to hear from an epidemiologist about safety, a sexologist," O'Connor explains, "Because if you think about it, it's not a natural thing to get intimate through a screen." 

Interest is also peaking at "It's Just Lunch." The personal and private matchmaking service coordinates dates for clients, without apps or online profiles. Regional Sales Manager Claudia Etheridge said they've had to pivot a little during the pandemic.

"We have restaurant partners where we work with exclusively and schedule the date and get the parties set up. What's great is it's up to them if they are comfortable going face-to-face, but we also have virtual dating in place as well," said Etheridge.

So how can you make yourself more noticeable either on an app or during a virtual date? Make sure you thoroughly fill out the info about yourself, share lots of recent photos, leave the filters out, and show a smile! 

For virtual dating, have some topics you want to talk about and create an environment that makes you comfortable and also represents who you are.

Etheridge suggests, "Have some music playing, have some great lighting. Dress up as you would if you went out on a face-to-face date." 

Be sure to follow CDC and local guidelines when you're dating and use your best judgment to check the background of potential dates. "It's Just Lunch" says they have their own internal vetting system.