Great Britain

We speak to singletons looking for love in isolation to see how the lockdown has put romance back into online dating

LORNA Prichard has enjoyed five pub quizzes, two candlelit dinners and seen the bedrooms of three potential boyfriends in the past fortnight.

The 32-year-old hasn’t been flouting government advice. Instead she is ­conducting her search for love from her own flat.

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Welcome to the world of ­lockdown dating, in which the usual landscape of online romance — rude pics and lovingly named “same day lays” — have been replaced by weeks of virtual conversations, and even a little (whisper it) romance.

Eighty two per cent of single people have turned to virtual dating since the coronavirus ­outbreak, according to — which has seen a 75 per cent rise in ­registrations.

While an online courtship might not suit those who use the apps for casual hook-ups, people looking for a long-term thing might actually find the slower pace more fruitful.

Comedian Kaitlyn McQuinn wrote: “You know who’s really gonna suffer during this social distancing? Dudes on dating apps.

“Welcome back to courtship . . . We ’bout to get Jane Austen up in here. Now, write me a poem.”

Lorna, who has been single for three years, is excited for the prospect of the modern twist on traditional romance.


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The comedian, from Cardiff, recently joined Hinge — an app where users complete a detailed profile. She says: “There is something heart-warming about the idea of an old-fashioned courtship.

“People will be having less casual sex, which is good as we can get to know each other’s potential from a distance.”

Lorna thinks the lockdown will give her more time to look for love. She says: “I’d wanted to get back into the dating scene, but then coronavirus happened.

“But I wasn’t going to let quarantining stop me. I have been taken on virtual tours of homes, had drinks over candlelight and even did a virtual pub quiz.

“One guy came to the quiz who I’ve had a couple of dates with. We also had an afternoon coffee and did virtual yoga.

“I have a few lounge dates coming up, where they will buy me a takeaway and get it delivered to me.

“The pandemic is so serious, so the idea of getting to know someone through face-to-face dates, but still in the comfort of my own home, is good.

“After all, if it’s not going well you can just say your wifi’s dodgy and make your excuses.

“The only thing that worries me is that you don’t know if you have physical chemistry until you meet someone. You can’t work it out over Zoom. But establishing an emotional connection virtually is a really important thing to do.”


Chris Smee, from Cheltenham, Gloucs, is changing tack on dating apps Tinder, Hinge and Bumble — the latter being an app where women make the first move.

The singer-songwriter, who previously used apps purely for hook-ups, is getting in touch with his romantic side. Chris, 22, says: “When my ex-girlfriend broke up with me I used dating apps for no-strings sex.

“I had the ‘get under someone to get over someone else’ mentality.

“My usual routine would be: Match, flirt, go for a drink, go back to one of our houses, have sex. Occasionally there might have been a second hook-up if it was good. Most of the time, my job of being a musician and owning an independent record label, Gameplan records, is enough to impress girls. Now that I’ve had to move all my dating game online it’s been difficult trying to come across in the same way I would in person.

“I have to be more careful in what or how I say some things, because over text, emotion can be lost and messages can be taken the wrong way.

“I’m taking it more seriously and looking to actually find a relationship. I can send them a song I’m working on and that keeps the conversation flowing.

“The more it progresses, the more romantic I start to become and I can talk about what we’ll do on our first date once the lockdown is over. That usually gets exciting.

“If you get that sexual vibe on the phone, I just go with it and I am very open to sexting.

“In terms of the actual dates, if it gets further than messaging on apps, either a phone call or FaceTime will do. It’s so hard to judge the sexual chemistry over the phone but you can gauge how well you get on by the conversation.

“I’m just looking forward to lockdown being over so I can actually meet up with these girls in person.

“There is one I’ve got my eye on. She is a good match personality wise, and very attractive.”

Virtual-date like a pro

MATCH dating expert Hayley Quinn says: “This could be a great time to reassess what your ‘type’ is.

Remember, a ‘type’ is just a theory until you’ve met someone you really click with. So rather than immediately discounting someone based on their job or appearance, use this as your ‘give it a go’ time and build connections with people via video or phone calls.

“If you’ve been swept off your feet only to be let down one too many times, slow down the dating process.

“With last-minute dates off the table, you have the opportunity to build trust gradually with a potential partner and figure out if you’re both looking for the same thing.

“A video date may not sound as exciting as meeting in person but you can use this to stand out from other daters. Try playing a game like Have You Ever? or charades.

“Could you both order the same takeout or grab the same drink to create a feeling of being in a restaurant? Or join a Netflix Party together. This can take the pressure off conversation too.

“If you are a chronic ‘over-giver’ in relationships and have accepted hurtful behaviour in the past, self-isolation is an opportunity to improve on this.

“That could mean ignoring texts from an ex who asks what you’re up to or getting better at recognising when someone isn’t respecting your boundaries. If someone tries to twist your arm into meeting, this shows they have little respect for government advice and for your health – a clear sign that you might want to say ‘Next!’”


Single Tom Boyne, 31, who was previously not a fan of dating apps, is hoping this could be his time to find love.

He has signed up to Bumble and Hinge.

Tom, who works in advertising and lives in Hackney, East London, says: “I have been single for just over a year and my last relation-ship was a bit longer than six months.

“I was previously on dating apps but never really used them because it was quite boring and I would rather meet people while I’m out and about.

“But now that I am social distancing, I have logged back on as I still need to find love. This time round, I have found that the amount of likes I get has increased considerably.

“Conversations seem more responsive too. Everyone is guilty of ghosting every now and then, including me, but it seems that there is less of that around.

“I’ve had conversations with a couple of women over the phone, who I wouldn’t usually consider dating but it’s definitely a good way to break that initial barrier.

“I’ve been on a virtual date too. I got quite drunk and I enjoyed it.

“We just chatted over WhatsApp, I was at my desk and it was all very formal.

“Her top half was all done up, and then she revealed half way through the date that she was wearing jogging bottoms.

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“I didn’t really dress up, but I got ready like I was going on a date.

“I showered and put on aftershave, then I realised — ‘Why did I do that?’

“It was a bit weird as her housemate kept walking in and out of the kitchen making food while we were having our date.

“There is none of that anxiety there usually is for the first date though.

“I suppose it’s much easier to leave if the date isn’t going well either — you just end the call.

“I am trying to get creative too. On the next date, I might do a karaoke session, and depending on how things go we could play some virtual games or watch a film.

“There has never been a better time for the online dating scene.

“People are making more effort and giving it more of a chance.”

Stacey Solomon warns Joe Swash 'he's not getting lucky tonight' as they enjoy a date night

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