If you've been single in Quebec during COVID-19, your DMs have most likely been dry — at least if you've been following public health protocols issued by the government. In the hours of frenzied swiping you can waste when searching for the next love of your life on Tinder, Bumble, Hinge, Facebook Dating and other dating apps, it might seem like there's an endless array of choices in Montreal's dating pool.
But little is known about how Canadians, including Montrealers, are actually using dating apps right now, a period marked by confinement and red-zone closures.
Are they even using dating apps? Or have other methods of dating become more popular?
We spoke to some of your favourite dating apps, as well as local matchmaking experts, to find out more about Quebecers' dating habits during the pandemic.
Are Quebecers using anything besides dating apps to date right now?
Cheryl Besner, a Montreal matchmaker and CJAD 800 radio host, said that matchmaking has slowed down amid COVID-19.
She thinks this decrease could be due to local singles being strapped for funds as a result of losing work during the pandemic.
Besner said she hit pause on her matchmaking service in March because she didn't think it was right to capitalize on forced isolation.
While financial woes may have caused local matchmaking to slow down, she said high-end matchmaking among wealthy Montrealers who have the disposable income to spend on dating is still going strong.
Kavita Ajwani, who owns Montreal-based company Dashing Date, told MTL Blog she has seen a "major increase" in virtual speed dating. Many of her new customers, she said, have been first-timers.
The average price of attending a virtual speed dating event with Dashing Date is $29.
How have Quebecers used Bumble throughout the pandemic?
We talked to a spokesperson for Bumble about how its Canadian users have dated during the pandemic.
Bumble has a video calling feature directly in the app to facilitate virtual dates and friend meet-ups while Canadians are forced to quarantine due to COVID-19.
In Canada, Bumble saw over a 70% increase in video calls during the week ending May 1, compared to the number of video calls during the week ending March 13, according to the spokesperson.
Bumble also saw that Canadian users sent 33% more messages on Bumble at the start of the pandemic in March — likely due to the boredom induced through having to be home at all times.
"In Canada, the average video chat time on Bumble increased from 15 minutes during the first week of social distancing to over 30 minutes during the height of the pandemic earlier this year," a spokesperson told MTL Blog.
She also said Bumble implemented a new 'Virtual Dating Badge' feature that users could include on their profile to indicate they were open to video dates.
She said one million global Bumble users added the feature to their profiles.
How have Quebecers used Hinge throughout the pandemic?
A spokesperson for Hinge told MTL Blog that the company has not made local Canadian statistics available.
But they did give us some indication of how Hinge users have behaved during the pandemic — if you're a Hinge lover, these statistics include your usage.
Hinge saw a 30% increase in messages among users this past March, compared to January and February, the spokesperson said.
Hinge also rolled out video calling to facilitate virtual dating during the pandemic. The spokesperson said that Hinge found over half of its users are likely to keep using video chats as a dating tool, even when they can safely meet up IRL.
In a Hinge study from this past summer, a majority of LGBTQ2+ Hinge users — 55% — shared that using the app had been helpful with fighting feelings of loneliness or isolation, especially by being able to get in touch with people in their city, according to the spokesperson.
Hinge data shows that the most popular time for video dates is 9 or 10 p.m., which they says is known as the "Dating Hour."
And what is most striking, the spokesperson revealed, is that Hinge’s app downloads were up 82% this year as of November, despite global lockdowns as a result of COVID-19.