Building valuable, healthy relationships are central to living a positive and productive life. Bumble has helped change the way we interact, breaking down old-fashioned power dynamics and encouraging women to make the first move. Over the next month, we’re celebrating love. We’ve partnered with Bumble to highlight interesting ways to start a conversation, how to find love in the digital age, how to cultivate intimacy as we emerge from isolation and more. Alongside our helpful and inspiring content, we’ll also share stories of ‘the one that got away’ — because sometimes it’s the love before that leads you to The One.
Maybe you met someone amazing online in isolation — you wouldn’t be alone! In fact, TheLatch—’s entertainment editor Anita Lyons met her perfect match on Bumble in the early days of lockdown, and her story is nothing short of inspirational.
With download numbers skyrocketing in the time of isolation, Bumble quickly reached four million users in June 2020. Not only that, but engagement on the app has never been higher.
During peak lockdown, Bumble saw a 76% increase of in-app video calls, with almost one million users adding the ‘Virtual Dating Badge’ to their profiles. And they way people use the app has changed too. While Bumble is great for finding a short-term match, the platform noted that 55% of users in Australia are now looking for more meaningful connections.
“We as humans are inherently social creatures, so when we all of a sudden lost the ability to meet each other in real life, we immediately looked at other ways to engage and interact,” says Lucille McCart, Bumble lead marketer and associate director.
“Overnight, dating apps became one of the only ways to meet new people, and both our chat and video calling functions met the demand for increased communication. Ultimately, isolation served as a great reminder to many about the qualities they look for in a partner.”
Perhaps, like Anita, you found comfort in connecting with a like-minded match during troubling times, and are excited to finally meet your match in person, now that social distancing restrictions have eased to allow cafe dates and pub wines again (thank goodness).
So, how do you go about turning your digital dalliance into real-life chemistry that lasts? Here to help you do just that is dating dream team Lucille McCart and Chantelle Otten, award-winning sexologist.
Acknowledge your nerves
You may be feeling a little rusty in the dating department, and who can blame you? We barely remember how to do small talk let alone charm a digital date and forge a real connection. Fortunately, though, we’re all the same boat, and as McCart explains, it’s totally natural to be feeling nervous.
“If you are someone who has met a partner, or potential partner, on Bumble and are now faced with the possibility of meeting them in real life for the first time (despite having been talking for weeks or months) you may feel a bit scared or anxious. That is totally normal and it is important not to freak out if you feel awkward at that first meeting — this is uncharted territory for many people.”
Her advice? “Give the relationship time and allow yourselves to settle in before making a judgement on the other person either way. Maybe their body language is different to what you imagined, or they are taller than you pictured. Don’t let the little things distract you from the great connection you formed. That being said, don’t beat yourself up if it doesn’t work out!”
Remember what you’re looking for
Remember when McCart said that isolation had served as a great reminder to many about the qualities they look for in a partner? Being in lockdown had a profound impact on many of us, and reminded us of the qualities we’re not willing to compromise on.
If you’re seeking a hot fling after months cooped up inside, great! Have a ball. But if it is that you are looking for a long-term partner, try to stay on track with your desires and avoid getting caught up in the physical chemistry if it means overlooking blatant red flags.
“Isolation has provided a lot of people with a great amount of clarity around what is important to them and what they want out of life. While the first few outings to the pub might be all fun and games, as we settle back into a more normal version of life, practice being more honest and open about what you want, and see how this changes the outcomes for you,” McCart says.
Maintain honesty with your match
Otten agrees that a little awkwardness is to be expected at first, and like McCart, she advises daters allow each other to adjust to their new means of communication.
“Some people fear the digital relationship but if iso has taught us anything about relationships, it’s that they can grow in any circumstance. So good on you for maintaining and growing a relationship from the comfort of your couch!” Otten says.
“When transferring to IRL situations we need to be acknowledging that it might get a little bit awkward at first, which is to be expected. You might be meeting someone for the first time that you already feel intimately connected to, so we need to give ourselves some adjustment time.”
If this is the case and you find yourself feeling awkward and out of sorts, Otten suggests you open up about it. Your match could well be feeling the same way, and hey, that would be yet another thing you have in common.
“Don’t ignore it, embrace it! Be open about how you’re feeling. Don’t let the lack of the comforting digital barrier scare you off from a potentially amazing relationship.”
Navigating intimacy and sexual tension
No doubt you digital daters felt a lot of sexual tension between matches in isolation. Now that you have the chance to meet IRL, how should you go about navigating this physical connection?
“The initial build-up of sexual tension in a relationship can be an incredible aphrodisiac and desire booster,” says Otten. “In a way, sometimes nothing gets us hotter than knowing we can’t do anything about it. While this can be amazing for some pre-meet-up self-loving, it may put a lot of pressure on that first in-person date.”
Otten’s advice? “Don’t feel pressured to jump into anything physical with your partner (unless you are both screaming a consensual “YES PLEASE” at each other). You may have been doing so much talking over the past few months that now it feels like you have to take things to a physical level. But there are never any ‘have to’s’ in sex.
“Let things flow naturally and don’t be afraid to put down some ground rules straight away. For the first IRL meeting, you might want to explore some hand-holding or kissing, maybe you just want a cuddle… go with your gut. Don’t forget why you liked this person from a distance in the first place.”
In coming out of iso, it’s best practice to ask if your date is comfortable with hugs or handshakes first. Bumble actually introduced a new feature that allows people to flag how at ease they are with post-iso interactions.
Now, you can add a badge to your profile to indicate the kinds of dates you would like to go on: Virtual, Socially Distanced, or Socially Distanced with Masks. Take advantage of this new feature and make sure to tell your natch what greeting you’re comfortable with before you meet up.