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Dating apps have been a safe bet for quick meetings and, not infrequently, quick sex. Spontaneous dates in the bar are no longer an issue in times of Corona. Still, singles are digitally looking for closeness – apparently even more so now. A self-experiment by Sophia Wetzke

“Sophia, I’m happy! Are you mentally well at the moment?” When Nick (name changed by the editor) sends me this message, we both have to laugh. Until a few weeks ago, I couldn’t have imagined that there would be so much honest compassion in a first chat message, and that of all things on the superficial Tinder app.

Thousands of people use services like Bumble, Hinge, Grindr, Scruff or OkCupid. Dating via app is now a standard feature when looking for a bit of physicality or great love. In the big cities in particular, flicking through the simple profiles – a few appealing photos, key data on age and height, snappy profile – is too tempting not to pass the time on the couch regularly. If two people like each other, there is a “match” and the opportunity to chat. Then you usually meet after a few brief messages, drink away your nervousness together, often end up in bed with each other and sometimes even in a long relationship.

“I’ve never written so much here before, otherwise I meet pretty quickly,” says Nick. However, this is currently not an option due to the restrictions imposed by the coronavirus, which is why Tinder will become a platform for a digital pen friend for us within a few evenings. We tell each other details from our lives in messages that last for hours. After the second evening I know what his ex-marriage was like, where his siblings live, how his living room is painted, what instrument he plays and where he learned to sail. I send photos of my cat, report on my relationship past, share melancholy songs that we listen to on YouTube at the same time. That seems innocent, strangely familiar and almost makes you forget that apps like this are usually a place where everyone has probably been given nude pictures or sexist pick-up lines without asking.

Isolation and quarantine put our relationships with other people to the test. Constantly being together in a small space could lead to more divorces and relationship crises. But singles also suffer, at the other end of the state of emergency. In involuntary asceticism, being alone is particularly heavy. “I have a lot of friends and contacts, but the physical loneliness is tough now,” says my friend Liza, who signed up directly on a new dating portal. “Most of the time it’s okay, but when the emotional lows come, it would be nice if there was someone to cheer you up.”

Many of my friends are now looking for a connection on dating apps. And get creative, like Adriana. In the past few weeks she has met with her dates for a walk on the Tempelhofer Feld. Then the contact restrictions became stricter and she switched to webcam dates. Drinking wine in front of the laptop camera and having a chat. “What I can already say is that it is much more intimate than in a bar. People look directly into your apartment and you have no distraction when it gets somehow embarrassing.”

In fact, Tinder has seen an increase in the number of hits and the length of messages sent. In the past week, 25 percent more direct messages were sent, confirms the dating service’s press office. This is a Europe-wide trend. Especially in areas with a particularly high number of Covid-19 cases and particularly strict exit restrictions, people not only wrote each other more often, but also longer messages overall. For a few days now, services such as Tinder and Bumble have been warning explicitly about analogue meetings and sending regular warnings to their users.

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