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On Dating, Desire, and Sex In Your 40s

I am a 40-year-old Black woman and I am as single as a dollar bill.

Don’t feel bad for me, because I’m not at all lamenting being single. I’ve been married, divorced, and I’ve had a couple of long-term relationships. Now, I choose to be single and am actively navigating the dating scene as an older, wiser, more focused woman. Admittedly, in the past, I’ve been discouraged by the idea that a woman’s value relies on her relationship status. And like many others, I’ve been especially overwhelmed by all of the research and data suggesting nearly half of Black women will struggle way into their older ages to find equal partners to settle down with unless they date outside of their race. I’m happy to say that I’ve finally reached a point when I don’t feel any pressure to compromise or sacrifice what’s important to me in order to be in a relationship. It’s been an eye-opening experience and, dare I say, empowering.

For many women in their forties, having an intimate connection with someone we can share ourselves with, have great fun, and have amazing sex would be cool, but it doesn’t seem to be a top priority. The biggest difference I’ve noticed in dating now versus dating in our twenties is in how we approach dating and how we go about actually doing it. For many of us older women, there is a combination of learning from past experiences, feeling confident about creating different standards, valuing the independence, and being unwilling to settle for anything less than we feel we deserve.


So how can a woman in her forties successfully venture out into the modern dating scene without feeling weighed down and burdened by the obstacles and downsides? It takes an effort to unlearn “tradition,” honest introspection, an open mind, and a willingness to think and act outside of the box. We can’t expect to apply old rules to a new game, so it’s time to get hip to what it’s like out there for women of a certain age.

First, we have to acknowledge that ageism against older women is prevalent in the dating scene.  Women being with older men has long been the accepted “norm” in our society, so ageism is an obstacle for many women in their forties who are seeking men in their age group. In same-sex relationships, the age issue doesn’t seem to be as prominent, but aging queer women may struggle with finding someone compatible in their age group, too. Interestingly enough, lesbians have higher divorce rates than gay men, so the tide may be turning as more older women-seeking-women become available and reenter the dating world.

Open your mind about the age range you’re willing to date and explore your options. Have you considered dating younger? Younger beaux are often more “enlightened” about social issues like racism and gender equality, having been exposed to more progressive community and social media conversations around these matters. They tend to have the sexual drive and capacity to meet the needs of women our age as we reach our sexual peak. And men, especially, are less likely to feel threatened by our intelligence, careers, and accomplishments, or feel like they’re in competition with us, mainly because they expect us to be more advanced than they are, and they generally respect it.

Update your preferred age range on Tinder and Hinge, and chat up someone younger. A number of women I’ve spoken to say dating younger was the best decision they made and they couldn’t be happier. Keep in mind that there are some younger people out there looking to take advantage of older women because they assume we’re desperate. Play things close to the chest until you’re comfortable opening up and sharing more of yourself and your material possessions.

Older women are more interested in exploring fantasies and enjoying sex, even more casual sex, once they age past the increased risk of pregnancy.

When it comes to sex, there’s no better time to take charge of your sexual pleasure than when you reach your forties. We often joke about older women’s libidos being in overdrive, but unless you’re asexual, or have had experiences with trauma, illness, or medications that impact your sex drive, you can probably relate! Older women who have moved beyond the “typical” age for childbearing, but are not-quite-menopausal, desire to and have more sex, whether married or single.

One explanation is that women are more comfortable with their sexuality and their bodies at older ages, so they let their guard down and go for theirs. Another reason is that older women are more interested in exploring fantasies and enjoying sex, even more casual sex, once they age past the increased risk of pregnancy. We’re also less likely to accept being sexually shamed or mistreated for wanting to have sex and taking the lead on having it. If you find yourself in any situation where you encounter sexist or archaic ideas about women and sex, run! The more in control you feel, the more likely you are to be active and enjoy the sex you have.

There’s nothing wrong with having sex for pleasure’s sake; I strongly encourage it! Keeping it light with someone you primarily want to have sex with isn’t wrong. It’s important, though, to be honest with yourself and your partners about your true intentions. These days, it seems more people are looking for casual connections and maybe that’s all you need right now, especially if you’re still moving past a divorce or end of a serious relationship.

Just make sure you’re not settling for terrible sex, that you’re honest with your partners about your wants and needs, and you’re assertive and enthusiastic about consent. Use protection, insist upon it. Beware of any person who hesitates or puts up a fight when you proactively introduce barrier protections or suggest getting tested for STDs/STIs. Challenge yourself to explore beyond your comfort zone to try things you were too afraid of or nervous about when you were younger.


Finally, change up the ways you go about meeting potential partners. If you’ve never tried online dating, there are several options for you. Gather up your best selfies, inject your humor, and show the fullness of your personality. People often assume women over 40 aren’t as energetic or interested in having fun, but that simply isn’t true. Put on that sexy new outfit, go out dancing, buy someone a drink at the bar, and live your best life.

See someone attractive on an app? Send the first message. Join your local 40-plus Meetup group and try some new activities. Don’t sit around waiting for the perfect person to find you on your couch watching Netflix; you may be older, but you’re not dead yet! Just make sure you let at least one friend know where you’re going and who you’re meeting up with; there are still some sketchy people out there and you don’t want to jeopardize your safety.

Turning 40 opened my eyes and changed my perspective on a lot of things. I’m taking the lessons I’ve learned from past relationships and prioritizing my wants and needs over those of others. You probably won’t meet the perfect person your first time out, but keep trying. It takes practice, so you might as well enjoy it while you’re figuring out what’s best for you in this new phase in your life.

THIS WOMAN HAS THE BEST APPROACH TO DATING IN YOUR 40S

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Overwhelmed by the prospect of dating in your 40s? Here’s how and why to take a step back from the stress

The thing about online dating is that it can easily slide from something fun into an all-pervasive grind.

One minute you’ve got a few relaxed drinks lined up, the next you’re spending 10 hours a week trawling Tinder (the average for millennials “looking for love”).

Before you know it, you’re in pursuit of the end game – a churning quest to find The One – with all the veracity and emotional exhaustion of a full-time job.

But what if there was no end game? How about you put your feet up on your desk and took it easy instead?

That’s the approach of one singleton New Yorker, who is determined not to be drawn into the web of dating in your 40s.

Author Glynnis MacNicol has written a book about what it’s like to hit the big 4-0 without a husband or kids. Her aim is to provide a role model that sits apart from these markers that are – still now – taken as shorthand for adult happiness.

Dating in your 40s: say no to the pressure

Now MacNicol has revealed another important element to her lifestyle as a 40-something singleton: and it’s all to do with taking her foot off the pedal of dating after 40.

“If being in a relationship was as important to me as my job, I would carve time out for it the way I carve time out for exercise, the way I carve time out for my friends,” the writer tells Bon Appetit’s Healthyish column, in a new profile about dating.

“That’s a completely valid thing to do if that’s your decision. For me it’s like, I don’t love shoes enough to go out shopping for them all the time, but if I see a pair I like somewhere, of course I’ll buy them.

“That’s how I feel about dating: If it happens, great, and if it doesn’t, that’s fine too.”

It’s a refreshing attitude, and one that neatly evaporates the pressure and expectation caught up in 21st Century dating and relationships.

If you’re not particularly geared to finding that spark on a date – or even have a date at all – the weight is off. You might meet the right person or you might not, but you’re not wasting your precious resource on that one, elusive goal.

Recognise the myth of the end game

Part of this mindset comes from a growing recognition for MacNicol and others like her that finding love is not the be-all of a good life.

Contrary to the message of nearly every childhood story and Hollywood rom com, there is no happy ending that lies within coupling up.

And as we progress into our 30s and 40s, we become increasingly aware of this reality. Our own experiences, and those of our friends, teach us that long-term relationships are a mixed bag. Some are happy, others are disastrous and most lie on the scale in-between.

But in no way does love ever unlock the key to a golden future of lifetime contentment; any more than babies, a great job or a nice house will.

For one, relationships can be tough; especially for women who traditionally carry the baggage of “making it work”.

In response to data that shows women are happier without marriage or kids, one Flashpacker recently wrote: “When my friends tell me all about the bullshit they deal with when it comes to their husbands, I do not doubt this is true!

“I used to feel so alone being the single one. But now I just feel thankful and blessed to be happy being single. Maybe marriage will happen one day but it’ll have to be the ‘perfect’ situation for me.”

Decide why, and how much, to invest

But even when a long-term relationship DOES work out, that vision of happy couples won’t fix everything.

“Thinking about marriage as a solution to a woman’s life leaves no room for all the ways in which your life still needs to be satisfied even if you do get married,” says MacNicol. “Because there’s nothing you can do in life that’s going to solve everything for you, including children and marriage.

“It’s easy to think: when does it get tied up so I can stop thinking about it? The answer is: when you’re dead. That’s when it’s all tied up.”

Life is an ongoing project that ebbs and flows according to a multitude of forces, both within and outside your control.

One of these influences is dating apps; a uniquely modern behaviour coated in so much choice, it can be hard to know what you want. By the time you hit your 40s, however, you have that extra legroom to step back and question your motives.

Once you separate your desires from the messages of society at large (Marriage is good! Long-term relationships are everything! Find your Happy Ever After!), you can better understand how much of yourself you want to put into the dating game, and why.

It might be that you DO indeed want to throw everything at the dating scene to meet people. Or you might decide, like MacNicol, to file dating under “nice to have” in a box full of other – and greater – priorities.

17 Reasons Dating in Your 40s Is So Challenging, According to Experts

Couple holding hands at night

When you’re dating in your 40s, you might be looking for a first-time forever match, or maybe you’re reentering the scene after a divorce or other hiatus. Maybe you already have your own kids—solo, or with a co-parent—or maybe you still want them… or maybe you don’t. But whatever the specs of your dating life are, you’ll likely find that there are particular challenges involved with dating over 40. From hangups and baggage to sex and technology, here, therapists, relationship coaches, couples counselors, and more explain why dating is so much harder in your 40s.

1It’s harder to deal with change.

When you’re in your 40s, you know what you like and what you don’t like. And it can be harder than it was when you were younger to adapt and welcome a new relationship into your life, with all of the inherent compromise that comes with it.

“Dating is more difficult in your 40s because your life is usually more settled, and doing new things doesn’t come as easily as it did in your earlier years,” says psychotherapist Tina B. Tessina

2The divorce factor complicates things.

Older couple talking sitting on the floor

Maybe you’re dating in your 40s after a divorce—or even if not, you’ll likely encounter other divorcees in the dating pool at this stage of life. And that can be a complicating factor.

“The experience of divorce and where you are in the process of getting over one can impact how jaded or emotionally unprepared you feel about the process of getting back out into the dating world,” says Dana McNeil, LMFT, founder of group practice The Relationship Place. “Some people start dating right away after divorce or separation. When this happens, it is likely they haven’t taken adequate time to process how the divorce impacted them emotionally. … Finding out how long a potential partner has been single is an important consideration before commitment.”

3And so does the kid factor.

Blended family having dinner

There are many ways kids can complicate dating in your 40s. “Children can play into the equation heavily at this age,” says career and relationship coach Julieanne O’Connor. “Often people already have children, or don’t yet have children and sometimes feel rushed to do so. And there’s the consideration of raising someone else’s children.”

For divorced parents dating in their 40s, kids are still very much a part of their daily lives. Family and relationship psychotherapist Fran Walfish, PsyD, notes that “dating in your 40s is so much harder because most divorced people in their 40s still have growing children living at home.”

4 There are disparate age-related expectations.

Older man on a date with a younger woman

Dating in your 40s can bring to light an uncomfortable disparity: No matter their own ages, men and women may be looking for partners of different ages. Sometimes that’s merely a matter of vanity (i.e. “I want to date someone younger and have a trophy on my arm”).

Other times, that uncomfortable reality comes about as a result of the kid factor, too. “[Some] women over the age of 40 are not interested in having more kids. However, there are a lot of men in their 40s who are very interested in having children. As a result, there tends to be a lot of men in their 40s who are looking for women in their 30s,” says professional dating profile writer Eric Resnick. “This can leave the women in their 40s with the feeling that the men in their age group are superficial and have unrealistic expectations.”

5 You feel out of practice.

Holding hands across the table on a date

In your 20s and 30s, you may have regularly gone out on dates—perhaps several in a month or even in a week. But if you find yourself newly single in your 40s, the very notion of dating can feel entirely unfamiliar. “Some people who are newly single in their 40s might not have dated since they were teens. A lot has changed,” notes life and relationship coach Jonathan Bennett. “It can be difficult jumping right back in when you’ve been out of practice for many years.”

6 It’s harder to meet through friends.

Middle aged couple on date

If you often met people to date through friends when you were younger, you might find that doesn’t come as naturally at 40-plus, when your social life may be less bustling, as a large quantity of friendships turns to a quality few.

“Meeting through friends is the most common way to find a partner; yet, as people get older, they usually have fewer friends,” Bennett says. “You can see how this makes dating more difficult as men and women in their 40s have to rely on anxiety-inducing methods like online dating, approaching strangers in social settings, or even trying singles events.”

7 New technology leaves room for misunderstanding.

Man confused by text

To that end, finding a relationship over 40 often involves technology—from swiping through potential matches on dating apps to communicating with possible partners via text or DM. And over-40 daters may not love that newer aspect of the game.

“People today have become habitually dependent upon texting that breeds misunderstanding, uncertainty, and distance in the message receiver,” Walfish says. “From what I hear patients moan about, there are some things about the archaic ways of dating that I think would be best brought back.”

8 You judge yourself more harshly now.

Woman looking at herself in the mirror

“Dating at 40-plus often becomes more challenging because of the insecurities and judgments that people have about aging,” says relationship expert and couples counselor Katherine Bihlmeier. “‘I’m too old,’ ‘My body is not beautiful anymore, ‘I don’t have anything to offer because I’m not as young as I used to be,’ ‘Nobody would find this saggy skin sexy’… The list of judgments running through our heads just grows longer.”

9 And you might judge others more harshly, too.

older asian man looking upset at phone

At this stage of life, you can be especially critical of potential mates, which can result from your own past experiences. “If you are divorced or are coming from a relationship that lasted many years only to fail, you tend to be more cautious about who you date. At times, this caution can turn into being overly critical or extremely picky of people you are dating, finding flaws that are not necessarily detrimental to a relationship,” says Stephania Cruz, relationship expert and writer for DatingPilot.net. “Being overly critical or picky can hurt the chances of meeting a great person to form a serious relationship with.”

10 You have more responsibility than ever.

Women Typing Life Easier

When you’re in your 20s, dating may be the only responsibility you care to prioritize. But when you’re in your 40s, it’s likely one of many aspects of your life that you’re trying to keep afloat.

“Your 40s may very well be the peak of your life in terms of juggling responsibility. You may have a successful career, family, financial responsibility, and a whole myriad of other endeavors that make searching for a partner and dating that much more complicated,” says health and wellness coach Lynell Ross. “It’s not just about the dating itself, but the host of other things you have to juggle in the background.”

11 And your priorities have changed, too.

Busy mom on the phone, doing work, and with baby

In addition to having more responsibility in your 40s, you likely have an entirely different set of priorities—and a timeline that may look different than it did in the past, too.

“When people are in their teens, 20s, and early 30s, meeting new people, partying with friends, and socializing is something they desire and look forward to,” says dating expert and author Kevin Darné. But sometimes, he says, “people in their 40s and beyond have already had the fairytale wedding and subsequent divorce. Therefore they don’t have the same urgency or enthusiasm when it comes to finding a mate as they did in the past. Their top priorities are more likely taking care of their children or elderly parent [or] focusing on their career.”

12 More people are taken.

middle aged friends eating a meal outside during the day

When you’re in your 20s and go to a party, everyone is single and ready to mingle. But it’s not so much the case as we age. “When you’re younger, you’re around peers who are largely single. Very few people have settled down into formal commitments like marriage. Yet, in your 40s, many of your co-workers and natural peers are married and unavailable to date,” Bennett says. “The dating pool is smaller and it can lead to frustration.”

13 You take dating too seriously.

Older couple on a date

If you’re looking for a serious relationship in your 40s, you could be approaching dating with a bit too much intensity, making dates feels more like an interview than a chat with a potential match.

“If you’re heading into a date with a checklist of questions and criteria, you’re running the risk of making the person feel interrogated and unseen for who they are. Keep it as casual and relaxed as you possibly can—and don’t beat yourself up too much if you are feeling anxious,” suggests Carissa Coulston, PhD, a clinical psychologist and relationship writer for The Eternity Rose. “Just try and let the conversation flow. Chemistry will either form or it won’t.

14 You have high expectations.

Man looking at woman intensely

To be clear, standards are important—but setting the bar unrealistically high can be a factor when dating in your 40s. “What made for an ideal mate at ages 16, 18, or 25 generally will not cut it for us when we’re in our 40s,” Darné says. “Once you start acquiring homes, have children, and have a decent amount in your 401(k), you become much more selective. … The higher your standards are, the more competition there is for finding such a person, and [there] is also more frustration with each person you meet who doesn’t measure up.”

15 You’re stuck on a “type.”

Middle aged male gay couple eating dinner in a restaurant

In your 40s, you might find yourself hopelessly stuck to a “type”—or avoiding a “type”—based on your own past experiences. “Both men and women are guilty of this,” Coulston says. “Perhaps they had one bad experience in the past with a particular person, and are now trying to avoid anyone remotely similar at all costs. However, a ‘type’ is not always an accurate way of summing up another person. If you categorize a person based on some similarities with someone in your past, you could easily miss out on a partner who is compatible with you.”

16 Sex is different now.

Man stressed in bed

Daters over 40 are likely seeking a satisfying sexual relationship as much as they were at earlier stages of life. But sex itself is different in your 40s, which can add awkwardness or pressure to a budding relationship. “Middle-aged sex requires a different focus and some new techniques to be satisfying,” Tessina says. “It’s no surprise that sex is different for mid-lifers than for youngsters.”

Bihlmeier adds that, when dating in your 40s, “all the judgments we as society have of aging and sex come up.” “It makes them insecure, and it is hard for them to enjoy themselves,” she says.

17 You might feel old, even though you’re not.

Couple cuddling on couch

If you’re dating in your 40s, that might represent a different path from the one you had planned for yourself—and that can breed insecurity and a sense of not measuring up as a potential mate. “Whether you are still single, married, or split up, you could be worried about what other people think of you,” Ross says. “You could be caught in that awkward time of not feeling old, but not feeling as young as those in the dating scene, and find it easier to avoid dating.”

But of course, you shouldn’t let your fears stop you from putting yourself out there. Remind yourself of everything you have going for you and how worthy you are of finding love. It’s definitely not easy, but it’s worthwhile.

All the Reasons Why Dating in Your 40s is the Best

Couple discovering dating in their 40s

Dating isn’t just a young person’s game. Dating is a journey and it’s different for everyone. Sure, dating in your 40s means you’re not making out under the bleachers anymore, but that doesn’t mean you’re not going to have fun. And experience.

Here’s why dating in your 40s is the absolute best. 

You’re More Empathetic

You’ve been through some things. You’ve had some heartbreaks, a few stories, and a few learning experiences. And not just in dating. Work and family issues have a play in your maturity as well.

Whatever the case, you get it. You’ve learned how the world works and can meet people where they’re at in life. They can be more honest, and you both can have deeper conversations. And if they need a shoulder to cry on, they know they can count on you. 

You Know What You Can Put Up With (And What You Can’t)

By the time you reach 40, you’ve probably seen your fair share. Some of those relationships were probably great. Others, not so much You can tell miscommunication and frustration from real, deeper issues. In other words, you know when to call BS. Your partner is controlling? BS. You can’t get a word in? BS. 

You’re at a point in your life when you feel more confident in your ability to define what you want a relationship to be. And you know that you have the power to walk away if it’s not what you need it to be.

You’re Straight up About What You Want

If you’re 40 and want kids or a spouse, you can say that. Relationships are about compromise, but finding a good relationship partner is about being with someone who agrees on the non-negotiables. Age means understanding yourself. You know what you want from your partner. And people you date know what they want as well.

Confidence Comes With Age

Remember in your 20s, it took all your friends to convince you to message that guy? Well, you’ve done that already. Many times, probably. So now, the fear is gone. If you want to talk to somebody, you do it. You want to ask somebody to be serious, casual, or anything in between, you just do.

Rejection sucks, but when you’ve been rejected many times you learn to recover more quickly. You know the secret is just getting back on the horse. You also know rejection doesn’t mean anything other than that person said no. 

You Have Better Taste

In your 20s, you put up with a lot more trash than you do now. You thought negging was cute or all guys use picked up lines. Now, you know better. When someone is nice, down-to-earth, and fun, you know they’re a good pick. 

If someone’s an ass, you don’t give them the time of day. You don’t waste energy trying to convince anyone you’re cool. 

All ages present dating difficulties. I won’t lie to you about that. And dating at every age is also fun. That said, nobody likes BS. And that is why dating in your 40s is the best.

The Thrill of Dating in Your 40’s—and Beyond

Being single at forty is often portrayed in the wider media with humor or pity, and rarely reflects the reality that single women at goop in their forties have found: Dating is still (or even more) fun, there are more options in terms of partners than there were in the world without dating apps, and, well—there’s nothing more humorous or pitiable about dating in your forties than dating in your twenties. Life advisor and relationship expert Suzannah Galland works with many single women in their forties (and above); her work centers around reframing clients’ perceptions to help them realize their actual desires, allow themselves to enjoy the pleasure of dating, and attract people who bring them more joy. Below, her refreshing perspective and advice for all ages on figuring out what it is you’re really looking for when you’re dating.

In Your 40’s, Follow Your True Desire

by Suzannah Galland

Dating should be fun: The thrill of waking up next to a new lover—feeling their soft breath against your body—is fantastic at any age. But dating at forty-plus is too often cast in a sad light by the media, so for some, the thought of being single and forty (or older) brings to mind what one doesn’t have, or is losing, as opposed to what you do have—or are even gaining.

But what I’ve found with my clients is that being single “later in life” can be really glamorous in some ways: For many, there’s a freedom that hits at some point in your forties. Whereas more women in their twenties and thirties are looking for a partner to have children with, this becomes less the case as we get older. What many of my clients are looking for in their forties and beyond is love and/or simply fun, often less-freighted by needs surrounding building a family, financial stability, etc. Another benefit of dating at forty is that you have the confidence that comes with experience. I see a difference in how women in their forties walk into a room, the way they can make heads turn and pulses race. It’s a radiance, a power from within. Call it a sexual glow, or just plain sex appeal. Whatever it is, it’s alluring.

“Being single ‘later in life’ can be really glamorous.”

Still, you might think, the on-again, off-again dating game is overwhelming—which is true, it can be, at any age. For many of my single clients, examining and re-setting their fears and intentions around dating helps them to find enjoyment in it that they might not have felt before. What we project and how we attract others has everything to with what’s buried beneath, whether curiosity or fear. Dating can be both perplexing and hair-raising. But it can be wildly exciting, too.

I sometimes use word association techniques with clients to bring awareness to the role that perception plays in their dating life—it illuminates how vital it is to check in with yourself.

Coral, forty-two, explained that dating had left her feeling abandoned. She felt manipulated to please her (male) partners, and felt overly needy herself. The first word that came to mind for her when I asked her to think of the word man was power. When I asked her to think of the word, woman? Soft. For Coral, this revealed how polarized she was going into dating and relationships.

Another client, Jennifer, age forty-six, described the people she was dating as shallow—players who valued looks over connection. Like Coral, Jennifer associated men with strong words (albeit negative ones like a$$hole). In contrast to Coral, though, Jennifer herself also identified with the word power. What Jennifer came to realize was that she liked to have control when dating and in relationships, and so, too, it seemed did the men whom she’d been involved with in the past. It was no wonder she demonized her exes—she didn’t perceive any harmony or balance when it came to dating.

A Word Association Trick

Imagine you’re flipping through a deck of cards—shuffling, shuffling, and then pulling out a card. On the front of the card is the subject you want to examine: selfdating, a particular someone’s name, etc. When you flip it over, there will be one word on the back. Close your eyes. Flip over the card. Open your eyes. What’s the word you see now? Say out loud the first thing that comes to mind.

For clients like Coral and Jennifer (and other clients like them), reflecting on how they view themselves helps balance their approach to dating. What you think, you project and, in turn, attract.

“We are pre-programmed to feel desire, to connect with others, to fall in love (and I don’t just mean one time, with one person).”

While this self-work can take many forms (from therapy to meditation, etc.), and can be difficult, it’s actually surprising how relatively straightforward it is for many to tap into the power of their own desires—and to harness that energy toward their dating experiences. We are pre-programmed to feel desire, to connect with others, to fall in love (and I don’t just mean one time, with one person). This doesn’t disappear with age.

When it comes to romance, we’re often enticed to follow fads or fit into social norms—to think of dating later in life as unnatural (there’s something wrong with me). Our drive for perfection can override our sense of self-worth, and obscure our desires, even to ourselves. Our desires can drive us at every age if we let them. The benefit of being guided by desire at forty, as opposed to twenty, is that you have more freedom, plus the wisdom of twenty more years of life to accompany you.SHARE:

Mastering Our Triggers

Psychotherapist Barry Michels has a tool for everything, including: how to overcome the worst parts of ourselves, how to regulate our thoughts, how to prepare for getting triggered, and how to make sense of and process our emotional wounds. On this video call with GP, Michels breaks down the three-point plan that his clients have been using during the COVID-19 crisis to cope with a sense of powerlessness, feelings of negativity, and the realities of being cooped up with family. (“You know I’m a specialist in denial,” says GP.) But the plan is about more than coping. It’s a guide to harnessing your potential, to finding unexpected opportunities for inspiration, to feeling grateful, and to being of service. Before they wrap the conversation, Michels works with GP’s shadow and shows you how to connect with the meaningful, necessary parts of yourself that you might be afraid to present to the world.

Watch it when you can and let us know how the tools work for you. Some of the highlights and things we are practicing:

Moving from anger and sadness to action.
“As soon as I turned the corner and realized that people needed me, I began to give more,” says Michels. “And I think that’s a key to recovering and dealing with the crisis. Which is: Human beings are at their best when there is an outflow of positive energy rather than looking for some kind of comfort or reassurance from the outside world. Because we experience ourselves as having something to give when we’re giving.”

Harnessing our potential and not losing our minds.
There are three things you can do to harness your potential. And conveniently, says Michels, regulating these three things—your thoughts, how you spend your time, and your media consumption—will help you not lose your mind. This involves various forms of self-mastery and overcoming the worst parts of yourself, says Michels. “How do you master your worst tendencies?” asks GP. Practice.

Regulating how we spend our time.
“Believe it or not, at some point, this crisis is going to be over,” Michels says. “And the people who are going to own the world at that point are the people who used their time productively now, during the crisis. Whatever it is you’ve ever wanted to do with your life, do it now. You’re never going to have this much time on your hands. Whether it’s writing a screenplay or working on a business plan or connecting with people you haven’t connected with in a long time. If you can’t think of anything you want to do, then just be of service. Check up on your neighbors. Give love and reassurance to the people around you.”

Regulating our thoughts.
“You have to regulate what you allow and disallow during this time,” Michels says. “For most people, they are allowing their minds to become just a cesspool of negativity.” This creates a compulsive, self-sabotaging, negative loop. Which we want to avoid. But…

It’s not that easy.
If you’ve ever tried to just substitute a positive thought for a negative thought, Michels says that you probably discovered a nasty little secret. “Negative thoughts have much more power than positive thoughts. That voice of doom in your head has tremendous power.”

Instead, Michels suggests creating an experience for yourself—of a universe that is constantly giving you things and supporting you in ways that you take for granted. The weird thing, Michels says, is that you don’t have to believe that there is something greater than you giving you things: “I learned this tool when I was an atheist. And I have taught it to many, many skeptics. It’s effective because it actually goes beyond what you believe into the realm of experience. If you can actually experience something greater than you, giving you things, then you can relax. And your mind can stop spinning without all the negativity.”

A tool for gratitude.
In advance of using the tool, think of some things you’re grateful for. Michels says he’s grateful for the way the human brain works (“it’s a miracle”), for the beauty in the world (seeing the Pacific Ocean, the stars at night, a rainbow), and music (what other force gets so inside of you and makes you want to move?).

When you are in a negative loop, close your eyes and follow these steps to be embraced by something greater than you. So even if shit is going down, you don’t have to get trapped in a negative headspace.

  1. Start by recounting specific things you are grateful for, internally. Don’t worry if it’s a slight struggle to come up with new things, says Michels. That’s part of the tool—your mind is working in new ways. Keep coming up with ideas and see if you can gradually get the feeling that there is much more to appreciate than you’re usually aware of.
  2. Feel your heart soften and open up, like a flower in the sun. Let the specific things you are grateful for gradually fade away. Sense the presence of a mysterious source giving you all those things. You don’t have to have a name for this source. You just have to feel it and receive what it’s giving to you.
  3. Feel that unknowable source of goodness draw near to you, like soft breath on your cheek. Feel your heart melting with thankfulness.
  4. Mark this moment in the back of your mind: This source of goodness is always with me, even if I’m no longer aware of it. It’s giving to me, boundlessly.

Regulating our media consumption (talk about ambition).
It’s of course good to stay informed, Michels says: “But staying informed takes five minutes.” You don’t need to spend all of your day checking the news.

Expect to get triggered by things we would normally drop.
“I don’t wake up and say, ‘I hope this is a great day, and I’m not going to get triggered,’” says Michels. “I say, ‘I’m going to get triggered. There’s no question.’” When you’re prepared, you’re in a better position to deal with what’s triggering you before you create more damage.

“We constantly want the outside world to be easier than it actually is, more validating, softer, reassuring than it is,” says Michels. Because it’s not: Try a tool called “dust” to nullify the outside world momentarily.

  1. When you get triggered, cover everything and everyone in the outside world with a thick layer of dust. This renders the outside world non-emanating, says Michels. Light is a symbol of what we want from the outside world. And dust says: I’m not receiving that. Nullifying the outside world cuts down on hurt and anger.
  2. Inside of you, imagine there is a fountain of infinite light. And all you want to do is light up the world with that light. This might be an image that you carry around with you.

Human beings are at their best when they are in a giving, outflow posture, rather than reacting, says Michels. This tool downgrades the importance of the outside world as a source for you. And it allows you to put out more. The moment you become the source, you don’t have to get triggered.

But we still get triggered—how do we process what upsets us?
At the end of the day, after you’ve gotten annoyed (however many times), go somewhere quiet and talk to your shadow. The shadow is a little bit like your alter ego—it’s almost another personality living inside of you. It’s an essential part of you, but you might be afraid to show it to the world. Whenever you have an extreme reaction to someone else, Michels believes that your shadow is having a reaction to you. So if it bothers you that someone is acting like a know-it-all, perhaps your shadow feels like you act like a know-it-all to it.

Dating in isolation during a coronavirus pandemic has a surprising upside

For single Australians looking for love, social distancing and self-isolating rules have drastically altered the dating scene.

Instead of getting drinks at a bar, going for a walk in the park or meeting up for coffee, they’ve had to keep it to sending flirty texts and arranging virtual dates.

“There’s so many awesome things about having a first date by video chat,” says Carissa Bennett, a women’s mentor and life coach from Melbourne. “For starters, you can wear your pyjama pants and do it from the comfort of your own couch.”

With the exception of a recent six-month relationship, Carissa has been single and “on the apps” for the past seven years. When the coronavirus restrictions were announced, she had a moment of panic.

“The part of me that’s been single for years doesn’t care, and the other part of me is 34 years old and really would like to meet somebody.”

So, Carissa is still on the apps — and she’s not alone.

As many as 70 per cent of users on the Hinge dating app have expressed interest in going on digital dates during the pandemic, according to a spokesperson.

We made some date backgrounds to help your Zoom dates feel a little more like real dates. Date from home and stay safe, everyone!

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The company is encouraging people to “date from home” using phone calls and video chats, and have even provided backgrounds to help Zoom dates feel like real dates.

A Bumble representative says that globally there has already been a significant rise in the numbers of messages (by 23 per cent) and in-app video calls (by 31 per cent) between users since mid-March.

More Tinder users are beginning to mention the coronavirus pandemic in their bios. The app has made their Passport feature available to all members, allowing users to meet anyone, anywhere in the world, and connect in this time of isolation.

The unexpected dating benefit of coronavirus

People on the apps are also using the pandemic as a conversation starter.

Remember Aziz’s go-to Tinder line on Master of None? I’m gonna need dudes to bring that back and MEAN IT

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“Because of what’s going on in the world right now, we’re so deeply connected by this situation that’s happening and we instantly have something in common to talk about,” Carissa says. “Very quickly you learn their political views, are they a pessimist or an optimist, are they open-minded.”

Carissa matched with someone on Bumble who works at a major Australian bank, and who did not think that banks should be supporting businesses that were struggling because of the shutdowns.

“His perspective on what was happening was so different to mine, and I would never be interested in dating someone with that perspective,” she says.

Another person she met on an app about a year go — and went on “a really amazing date” with — recently reached out again to see how she was faring during the pandemic.

Carissa suggested a video date, and he said yes.

Because they live in different states — she’s in Victoria, he’s in Queensland — they had kept in touch by text, and they couldn’t believe that “neither of us had thought about a virtual date before.”

“I think we will probably talk and maybe have a wine,” she says.

Dr Maria Scoda, a clinical psychologist who specialises in relationship counselling, says virtual dating may provide an opportunity for people to take things slow and get to know each other on a deeper level.

For people who are genuinely interested in developing a connection with someone, Dr Scoda suggests creating parallel dating scenarios within the home like having dinner, playing a board game, or watching a movie together while on a video call.

“Even just talking about the mundane things together, describing your day or week, that’s part of a normal relationship,” she says.

Does ‘virtual love’ work in real life?

The “big unknown” is whether a relationship built in the virtual world will translate in real life, Dr Scoda warns.

“Once they meet in person, everything they’ve created may fall flat,” she says. “I know people don’t want to hear that, but it’s a possible reality.”

May*, a 31-year-old musician from Melbourne started chatting to a woman on the dating app Raya a week ago, and they’ve already gone on three virtual dates.

“We’re always texting and calling,” May says. “It’s offering companionship and it’s adding value to my isolation.”

For their first video call, May decided to lay down in a local park and talk to her. They spoke for an hour.

“The time actually flew past, she says, “I almost forgot that I was just lying there completely on my own.”

They talk about everything from what they did that day, to dreaming up things they want to do together in the future.

Coronavirus questions answered

“The fact that we enjoy talking to one another and keep having things to share despite the fact that there’s no physical affection is a really good sign,” she says.

“But looking into the future too much is not really the best thing to do because there’s so much uncertainty and it feels like I probably won’t see her for months and months.”

It’s not just social distancing that’s keeping May and her Raya date apart. May was meant to move to the US in April, where her Raya date lives, but the move has been put on hold indefinitely.

“I think we’re trying to be as casual as possible, just enjoy it for what it is and not put too much pressure on it.”

While this new dating paradigm can feel exciting, Dr Scoda says it important to understand that the risks and dangers of dating in person also present themselves when dating from home.

“There will be people who take advantage of others and may move a video date in a sexual direction that the other person doesn’t want.”

If this happens, she advises to disconnect immediately.

“Trust your gut feeling if it doesn’t feel right,” Dr Scoda says. “People need to look after themselves while virtual dating as they would in real life dating.”

There will also be single people who don’t want to date right now, and Dr Scoda says this period of isolation may be a good time to reconnect with yourself.

“Start looking at the things that you enjoy doing that you haven’t had the time to do,” she says, “like reading a book, or doing a project, or deepening existing relationships.

Loveless isolation

Adam, a 50-something university lecturer in NSW and father of two, describes his pre-pandemic love life as “very sexually active” with “a few different lovers”.

The last time he met a lover in person was mid-March, just before the government started rolling out social distancing rules.

“Whatever we were doing just a few weeks ago now feels like an outrageous risk,” he says.

Adam’s older daughter in her early 20s found an “isolation buddy”, a guy she’ll stay at home with for as long as the stay at home directive is in place.

While he’s maintained contact with his lovers through texts and phone calls, they’ve all decided to not meet up.

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“It was suddenly a good time to have one person you could bunker down with,” he says. “That’s when I got that feeling of playing musical chairs and the music stopped and I didn’t have a chair organised.”

Adam’s working from home and living with his teenage daughter, who is also staying at home and doing school online.

The energy he used to put into planning dates is now being put into other things like gardening, meditation and building an extra room onto his house for his daughter.

“I’ve been a sexually active person all my life so maybe there’s something to learn from a period of abstinence,” Adam says.

“I’m able to really spend time with my daughter,” he says, “it’s just a whole lot more quietness, a whole lot more time together, a whole lot more connection than is possible in the non-stop rat race, really.”

How coronavirus is transforming online dating and sex

Last week, as shutdowns and shelter-in-place orders became increasingly common, a mysterious Google Form circulated among students at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business: “Love Is Blind, Bschool Edition.” The name was inspired by the hit Netflix show where couples talk in isolated pods and subsequently get engaged without seeing each other.

The rules are simple: Make a fake email address and tell the creators the business school you attend, your sexual orientation, and your gender identification. The creators randomize that information and set up a match, introducing a pair to each other for email correspondence via the fake address; after a week, texting or video is permitted.

Welcome to dating and sex during the coronavirus pandemic. Dating apps have struggled; after all, the whole point of dating is to physically meet someone. Match—the company behind online dating giants Tinder and OkCupid—has seen stocks tumble 25%, and had to balance public health with mission statements.

“Tinder understands that our members are oftentimes meeting new people in-person, and, given the current environment, we wanted to remind them of the precautions they should take,” the company said in a press release, citing the World Health Organization. The firm is now rolling out a feature that lets users match with people outside their immediate geographical area.

But what does virtual dating mean? 

One way to do it is by reinventing the speed date. Dawoon Kang, cofounder of Coffee Meets Bagel, says the app has begun hosting virtual meetups for 10 to 15 members at a time, consisting of a video call moderated by a company representative. A participant who is interested in another can email the representative; if two people feel sparks, the representative connects them.

Coronavirus is also upending what we thought were the ground rules of dating in the digital age. Pre-coronavirus, texting someone to set up a date was fine, but calling a person, let alone video-chatting before a date, was tiptoeing toward creepy. 

Not anymore. By the end of February, JWed, a Jewish dating app, was an early adopter of in-app video chat. Bumble pushed its video chat and voice features, allowing users to talk to a date without breaking shelter-in-place mandates. Representatives at JWed told me that while these features had already been in development, the coronavirus crisis sped up implementation.

The video calls serve as what some singles term a “vibe check,” allowing them to gauge chemistry in a context beyond text banter. Kang predicts these vibe checks will be the norm long after the cure for Covid-19 has been found, as people seek to trade selfie culture’s filtered photos for a more realistic image of a person. “At first, people don’t feel like they look very good,” Kang says, but “then they’re forced to try it when they realize they won’t meet people for a very long time. Once they try it, they’re likely to do it again.”

Jazz, a woman from London, has been on dating apps since 2014. Video calls have made dating less casual, she says.

“I can now have first meets on video and build an emotional connection with a man over the physical,” she says. “Three weeks no-contact means you will be able to drop the fakes like flies and engage with the ones that are truly wanting to have something more.”

Jazz claims she hasn’t changed how she presents herself (“Loungewear and no makeup—if they like you like this, then they’ll like you in any state”) and enjoys the ease of the date: “I can also drink a glass of wine and roll into bed. Woohoo!”

Sex at a distance

Coronavirus isn’t just changing norms around dating: sex tech is also seeing a surge in popularity. Much of this is to do with the effects of quarantine, says Justin Lehmiller, a research fellow at the Kinsey Institute. While the coronavirus and the resulting lockdowns are still too new to allow for real analysis, he says it’s clear that the strange times we now live in are changing our behavior. People are trying out the newest sex gadgets, visiting virtual-reality strip clubs, attending Zoom sex parties, and even searching PornHub for very specific porn: homemade videos that fetishize coronavirus.

Polly Rodriguez, the founder of sex toy retailer Unbound Babes, says that when the coronavirus arrived, sex tech firms struggled. Many sex toys are made in China, which meant the supply chain was badly hit.

But demand remains high. Once the first patients started getting sick with coronavirus in the US, Unbound Babes raced to fill orders for vibrators and multipacks of condoms, which were up 30% the first week of March and then another 40% the second week. “This is usually our slowest time of year,” she says. “People are stockpiling and anticipating this will take a while.”

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Lehmiller says this can be attributed to demographics. “The percentage of people who are single is higher today than it’s ever been,” he says. “We have a lot of people who aren’t living with a partner or spouse than ever before.”

But it’s not only single people interested in sex toys; Lehmiller predicts that the coming months of lockdown will see committed partners begin to experiment. “You’ll see an increase in remote-controlled sex toys where people can engage sexually with a partner through technology from a distance,” he says. “You can sexually engage without oral transmission”—an attractive feature when we don’t know how long we’ll be isolated within our homes.

The pandemic will “set the stage for the sex tech revolution we’ve been all anticipating to take place sooner than we thought,” says Lehmiller.

But not everyone is able to take advantage—particularly those who are facing the brunt of what appears to be the early days of a global economic recession. Vibrators and so-called teledildonics are still luxury goods and can cost in the triple digits. Step Tranovich of sex tech startup Cute Little Fuckers says, contrary to Unbound Babes’ boom, his company’s sales have been nosediving. His customers, too, are facing uncertain times. “My clientele is largely transgender and queer,” he says. “They’re already marginalized and have a less stable income stream. Unfortunately, when big things happen, they are the first to get laid off and financially disadvantaged.”

Still, Lehmiller says that the pandemic and quarantine orders will lead to very different relationship rules. And that goes for dating apps, too. “The one thing I’m certain about is that the longer this prolongs, the longer this will be a permanent shift,” Kang says. “People want to virtually connect.”hide

Seeing a Spike in Activity, Dating Apps Respond to Pandemic With Digital Date Ideas

Tinder, Bumble and Hinge offer new features for members to video chat or connect internationally.Tinder, Bumble, Hinge

In mid-March, Jessica Ross, an administrator at a law firm in Washington, D.C., had been self-isolating at home for a few days when she decided to start swiping on a dating app out of boredom. Ross said the app was booming with people excited to chat while stuck at home with one natural, unfortunate conversation starter—the COVID-19 outbreak.

Ross, 29, said she eventually exchanged numbers with a man she was messaging to take their conversation off the app. For her, exchanging numbers usually leads to the next step of meeting up for drinks. But they were both on the same page about not meeting in person during a global pandemic, so they started to virtually date using FaceTime. Ross said around two weeks ago, he asked if she was interested in going on a FaceTime date—noting that it could be awkward.

“I figured this was about to become the new normal, so I told him I’d prefer to do it while it was still weird,” she said. “Now we talk often enough that I know what he’s doing most nights, and we feel comfortable FaceTiming out of the blue.”

In February, Ross’s video dating situation may have seemed unconventional. However, it has become a new normal for people looking to make romantic connections while in-person dates are unsafe.

Major dating apps have reported an increase in global use during the pandemic, and they’ve swiftly pivoted to encourage users to not meet in person. The apps are now offering users convenient ways to set up virtual dates, on-theme digital and social content, plus links to safety guidelines from global health organizations.

Hinge, which reported a 30% increase in messages among users in March compared to January and February, is addressing the potential awkwardness that comes with asking a match to take a conversation from messages to video. The brand revised its in-app survey to reflect the current dating climate, reporting that 70% of members would be open to a virtual date on video platforms like Zoom; and in general, a third of all members shared the phase of dating when they feel the least confident was turning conversations into face-to-face meetings.

In response to the findings, Hinge today launched a “Date From Home” menu, which pops up at the bottom of in-app conversations, asking users if they’re ready to go on a digital date. Users can select when they’re ready to move the conversation off the app, and their response remains private until their match selects it, too.

“While we may need to be physically distant right now, we can still be socially connected,” said Tim MacGougan, chief product officer, Hinge, in a statement. “We are excited for the launch of ‘Date from Home’ as a new and easy way for our users to continue their dating lives.”OkCupid released an infographic based on profile info of members who answered in-app questions.OkCupid

Michael Kaye, global communications manager, OkCupid, said the dating site has seen an 30% increase in global daily messages exchanged in the past few weeks. The brand is particularly monitoring how the topics of conversation have increasingly shifted toward coronavirus and social distancing. Kaye noted between February and March, mentions of video chatting platforms like Zoom and Skype increased 180% and toilet paper increased 238% on member profiles.

“But we don’t recommend you use a coronavirus opening line,” Kaye said. “Our data shows those messages are 5% less likely to get a reply, and the ones that do have conversations fizzle out faster.”

OkCupid has also added new in-app questions related to virtual dating; the questions are normally used to help the platform match people on compatible interests. New questions include: “What’s your ideal virtual date?,” “Do you enjoy phone sex?” and “Would you say ‘I love you’ to someone you’ve never met in person?”

Tinder reported daily conversations have been up an average of 20% globally and 19% in the U.S., and the average length of conversations 25% and 8% longer, respectively. The swiping app also reported the use of Passport—a premium feature that allows users to connect with anyone in the world—was up during the last week of March in Brazil, France, Germany and India. To acknowledge that members across the globe are sharing a similar experience, the platform has made its Passport feature free throughout April.

“We hope our members, many of whom are anxious and looking for more human connection, can use Passport to transport themselves out of self-quarantine to anywhere in the world,” said Tinder CEO Elie Seidman. “We’re inspired by how people are using Tinder to be there for each other, and we want to fan these flames of social solidarity.”

Tinder is also aiming to make connections for college students affected by school dismissals easier while they’re apart. The brand removed the distance radius for Tinder U, a feature where college students can join using their school email addresses to match with students on their own campuses and those nearby; normally, students are limited to a short distance range set by the app.

For Bumble, the temporary new dating lifestyle gave the women-focused dating and networking platform a chance to boost its in-app voice call and video chat service, launched in 2019. The brand initially introduced the feature as a way for members to chat with matches before they shared personal information like phone numbers or email addresses. Now, the brand is urging members to use the feature through in-app notifications and a letter from founder and CEO Whitney Wolfe Herd on its website.

“We’re experiencing a major lifestyle change at the moment and we’re focused on helping our users shift the dating app experience to an in-app dating experience,” a Bumble representative said.

According to the Bumble representative, as of March 27 the brand has seen a 93% increase in voice call and video chat usage from March 13, and the average call time is 30 minutes. Since March 12 in the U.S., Bumble has seen a 21% increase in messages sent, as well as a 13% increase in use among Gen Z. Among its three modes—Bumble Date, Bizz and BFF—the brand reports its Bizz networking mode has seen the greatest increase in swipes, up 57%.

As major dating apps temporarily pivot messaging, they’re also offering virtual date ideas for their followers on social media and through blog posts on their sites. On Instagram, Bumble has posted a Mad Libs-style game to figure out what to do on your next virtual date, as well as ideas corresponding to astrological signs.

Online dating amid coronavirus: Longer conversations and a ‘pivot’ to video dates

“She said, ‘Do I have to change out of sweats?’ and I said, ‘Of course not, I haven’t worn adult pants in weeks anyway.’”

As COVID-19 has spread across the globe, online daters are having longer conversations and adopting an option that has previously not been popular: video dates.

Match Group Inc. MTCH, -1.58% and rival Bumble are seeing a boost in the number of messages exchanged between daters on their platforms as well as a growing interest in built-in tools that allow users to hold video calls without exchanging contact information. Match Group owns a variety of dating properties including Tinder, Hinge and Match.com, while Bumble is known for its namesake service launched by a Tinder co-founder.

“Whether it’s for work or for fun, everything has become digital and distant,” said Nick Kallail, an alumni-network and marketing manager in Kansas who recently did a video date with a woman he met on Bumble during the coronavirus outbreak.

By connecting over video chat, Kallail was able to chat with his date, who lives nearby in Kansas City but has been hunkering down with her parents in Washington state due to the virus. Kallail experienced some first-date firsts, including when his date’s mother stopped in to chat during their conversation and when both parties agreed that it was fine to wear comfortable clothes for their digital meeting.

“She said, ‘Do I have to change out of sweats?’ and I said, ‘Of course not, I haven’t worn adult pants in weeks anyway.’”

Even those who bypass dating apps are turning to video dates, according to Barbie Adler, the founder of Selective Search, an offline executive matchmaking service. She said that periods of extended time at home tend to make her clients more determined to find love because they start to desire connection more, and she’s encouraged them to try video or phone dates during the public-health crisis.

Adler advises clients to find a setting for their video dates that faces a light source and that doesn’t show any clutter in the background. While it’s fine to do a video date from a desk, she recommends that people adopt comfortable body language so they don’t look like they’re giving a job interview. And though she tells daters they don’t have to look too formal, she also suggests that they wear something they would consider wearing for an in-person meeting.

One creative client sent a bottle of his favorite wine to his date and they each drank from their respective bottles during the video session. Others have decided to go for walks separately but at the same time and do phone dates.

“Social distancing doesn’t have to mean social isolation,” Adler told MarketWatch. She expects that daters could form deeper connections through their virtual dates than they might have if they had jumped into quick conversation before making plans for an in-person dinner.

For Match, the rush of stay-at-home orders brought on by the novel coronavirus outbreak has prompted a change in strategy, according to a Tuesday filing and letter from the company’s new chief executive. While the length of Tinder users’ conversations has increased by 10% to 30% since the virus began impacting the dating landscape, Match services have been struggling to attract new users (especially those older than 30) and paying subscribers in countries hit hard by infections.

The company has responded with a quick “pivot” as it tries to add video capabilities to more of its services. Users across the Match properties seem to be coming around to the feature after showing some skepticism in the past.

Chief Executive Shar Dubey said Match had begun rolling out video chat on two of its services, Plenty of Fish and Twoo, and that usage had “exceeded our expectations.” The company now plans to roll out one-on-one video-chat services on its namesake Match.com service in early April.

“We have offered video chat features in the past and seen low usage, but we think this time user behavior is likely to change more permanently,” she said.

Dubey pointed to subscriber declines of about 5% in Europe since the start of the crisis, though the impact has been more pronounced in countries that have been hit harder by the outbreak, like Spain and Italy.

Match did not mention any plans for video on Tinder, its mobile-focused dating app. A spokeswoman said that the company had nothing to add beyond the letter.

While brands are rushing to incorporate video chatting into their services, many people may still choose to handle this part of dating process their own. Kallail said he and his date had exchanged phone numbers before deciding to go on a virtual date and didn’t rely on Bumble to handle the video call.

Bumble, a chief rival to Tinder, also has video and voice integration inside its app and the company has seen increased usage of these features during the COVID-19 outbreak. Engagement with these services is up 21%, a company spokesperson said, with the average video or voice call lasting about 15 minutes.

The company has also witnessed a 21% bump in the number of regular messages sent via its platform and, as with the Match properties, Bumble users appear to be chatting for longer with their matches.

“We’re experiencing a major lifestyle change at the moment and we’re focused on helping our users shift the dating app experience to an in-app dating experience,” the spokeswoman said in an email.

Match did not mention if it plans to charge for any video-chat offerings as part of subscription services like Tinder Gold, which have powered much of its gains in recent years.

Jefferies analysts raised their price target after the news Tuesday evening, because Dubey said that Match’s first-quarter results would likely come in at the low end of the company’s guidance range, which called for sales of $545 million to $555 million. The analysts wrote that performance was better than feared, and the letter suggested Match “was likely on pace to exceed 1Q expectations prior to the COVID dynamic.”

“No recession in love,” they wrote, while bumping the target to $74 from $65.

The Match letter also noted that the company’s divorce from parent company IAC/Interactive Corp. IAC, -1.33% is on track to be completed in the second quarter, but the pandemic could impact that as well.

Match stock declined 19.6% in the first quarter of 2020 as the novel coronavirus spread across the globe, roughly in line with an 18.7% decline for the S&P 500 index SPX, +1.44%. No analysts tracked by FactSet suggest selling the stock, with 10 rating it a buy and eight rating the shares as a hold.

11 Virtual Dates You Can Go On in Quarantine

11 Virtual Date Ideas You Can Go On in Quarantine

These are strange times for romance. People are quarantining with matches they just met on Bumble, Zoom happy hours have negated the need to ever wear pants on a date, and the cast of Love Is Blind are probably all thinking, Told ya so. Love in the time of the coronavirus is strange indeed.

But you don’t need a bubble like Jeremy to fall in love even in these weird, weird times—socially distanced love is very much thriving. In an era where we do pretty much everything else virtually, virtual dating has quickly become a new norm. To keep your virtual drinks from getting stale, here are 11 creative virtual dates you can go on while maintaining a safe social distance.

1. Tour the Louvre, in pajamas.

Museums and galleries—always the classiest of date options—are largely closed due to sweeping shelter in place orders. But that doesn’t mean you can’t still get your culture on with your own private virtual tour of the world’s finest curated collections. It’s like your very own version of a Bachelor date.

A few online exhibits and virtual tours to check out: L.A.’s Getty Museum look at Renaissance food & drink, the Louvre’s decadent Gallerie de’Apollon ceilings, the Smithsonian’s Natural History guided walk-through, and the National Women’s History Museum’s NASA exhibit (because nothing says social distancing quite like outer space).

2. Turn your living room into the main stage.

There are hundreds of artists performing worldwide, from big stages and backyards that you can stream from home. (See John Legend’s performance at the Chrissy-officiated Stuffed Animal Wedding.) For a weekend-long Coachella experience, don your flower crowns and neon for the Stay at Home Festival—a music festival on Instagram Live, April 3–5—or track the greats as they go live with Billboard’s continuously updated list. (For local musicians, Venmo a tip, if you can.)

For a more intimate listening experience, send each other an album to listen to during the workday, and discuss it that night. Or use one of NPR’s Tiny Desk Concerts as a nightcap. (Lizzo is our fave, duh.)

3. Invite a guest storyteller.

You’ve been swapping stories for a few phone calls—maybe it’s time to turn to the storytelling experts. The Moth, a globally renowned event series and podcast, features live vignettes of real human experiences—you’ll laugh, tear up, and have some new content for your endless phone calls with your virtual lover. You can “buy tickets” by making a gift via the Moth website, and send your date a calendar invite for showtime.

4. Play dinner-delivery roulette.

This potential partner already knows plenty about you, and you’d invite them over if you could. Instead, exchange addresses for a surprise takeout night that also helps support a local business.

Set a time for delivery, and schedule your favorite local dish to land on their doorstep. Watching them unbox and enjoy your favorite food—and you, theirs—is perfect whether you’re a plate-sharer or not.

5. Take a long walk on a virtual beach.

No one is going anywhere for the time being, but that doesn’t mean you can’t take a virtual trip together (minus the TSA hassle and fights about wake-up times).

Using Google Maps, you can revisit a favorite place you’ve been, your date’s old summer spot, or even give each other a tour of your childhood neighborhoods. You can even feast your eyes on global adventure by snorkeling from a resort in the Great Barrier Reef, visiting China’s terra cotta warriors, hiking through Yellowstone, or exploring the International Space Station.

Want to virtually explore the world during the height of our global shutdown? Check out the *New York Times’*s The Great Empty series, capturing international hot spots in this unusual quietude.

6. Get sweaty.

Hundreds of fitness trainers are livestreaming their favorite workout classes to make working up a sweat at home easy-peasy. Schedule a gym date to take a class together and have a little fun getting active.

For a dance-based workout that feels like a party, 305 Fitness brings endorphin-boosting virtual workouts that will make your heart race. Grab your brightest ’80s neon, clear the floor, pop that Zoom video line open, and get twerking together. Their classes are available for livestream twice a day.

7. Get wild.

Break out your favorite day-trip snacks, and load up a wildlife cam or virtual zoo tour. You can watch a baby bald eagle enjoy breakfast, or party with the polar bears at the San Diego Zoo. Looking to get wilder? Roam the woods with wolves in Minnesota or beat your chest among gorillas in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

8. Take a deep breath over meditation and tea.

Couples massages and yoga studios may be off-limits, but that doesn’t mean you can’t plan a relaxing date. Join a guided meditation with MyWellBeing founder Alyssa Petersel on Instagram Live (or check out her team’s library here). For a quick grounding exercise, you can walk through together anytime, Anna Murphy, an executive coach in Chicago, recommends a 5-4-3-2-1 check-in: List five things you see, four that you feel, three that you hear, two that you smell, and one that you taste.

Want to move off the couch? Check out Yoga With Adrienne and see how your date grooves into Downward Dog. Once you’ve hit the zen zone, make a cup of tea and discuss how you’re both feeling.

9. Host trivia night.

Remember Sporcle, the online trivia platform that made a big splash about a decade ago? We’re ready for a comeback. Whether you’re naming candy bars or listing out all the presidents in record time, you’ll learn a lot about your date in the process.

10. Netflix party and chill.

We’ve already binged Tiger King, and so has your date (and if not, they should go do that immediately). Though you can’t quite cuddle, grab your favorite pillows to create cozy tucked-in vibes, pick a movie and set up a Netflix Party. This add-on enables synced video viewing and live chats so you can share each other’s reactions.

11. Get deep

Maybe you’re a big Brene Brown fan, or you’re just running low on ways to get deeper while distanced. The “36 Questions That Lead to Love”, published in 2015, is the best conversational road map to connect with your virtual date. Find out their dream superpower, gaze into their eyes, and start to envision what your future partnership might look like. Romantic, intellectual, and inspiring, this exercise is a must for all couples from fifth date to 50 years together.