Broke Gen Zers are skipping first dates and meeting each other virtually instead

Broke Gen Zers are skipping first dates and meeting each other virtually instead
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Gen Zers are opting for virtual first dates to save time and money.

  • Virtual first dates are becoming popular again due to the soaring cost of living.
  • Gen Zers are opting to meet someone over Zoom or FaceTime for convenience and flexibility.
  • However, virtual dating can’t replace the chemistry and spark of an in-person meeting.

Virtual dating — a pandemic-era trend — is back in vogue because going out has gotten so expensive.

Gen Z in particular has embraced the virtual first date, which lets them test the water with new partners while dealing with the increasing cost of living.

According to the dating app Wingman, 65% of users aged 18-27 choose to video call as a first date instead of meeting up.

Wingman founder Tina Wilson told Business Insider that the stat, taken from a survey of 500 users, showed the most notable shift since the height of the pandemic.

Several Gen Zers spoke to BI about the shift, and were broadly in favor.

“Users in that younger age group just absolutely don’t bat an eye at it, and they’re like, it’s efficient, it’s great,” Wilson said. “You can have a quick chat and you can see if there’s that spark.”

Some choose to preserve some of the fun of a regular date — but at a lower cost — by ordering takeout to their date’s place for the call.

Jaded by dating apps

Gen Z is a generation that knows what it wants and what it doesn’t. Wilson said virtual first dates are a good way to weed people out.

“The first whiff of a red flag, they’re gone,” she said.

Eunice Cycle, a musician living in Toronto, said she feels people in her generation are “jaded by the process of dating” and are looking to speed it up.

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Virtual first dates are less expensive because you don’t have to worry about buying food and drinks, let alone the $30 Ubers there and back. They’re also convenient.

“A lot of people in Gen Z, if they are on Tinder, Hinge, or Bumble, they also see multiple people at the same time,” Cycle told BI. “So that’s why they might prefer Zoom dates because you could go on multiple dates in a day without leaving your house.”

Gen Z women are also more likely to split bills on first dates — creating an extra disincentive to going on bad ones.

“People can’t afford rent, let alone going on a date,” he said, calling virtual dating “just an overall better experience.”

Wilson, the dating-app founder, said there seems to be no shame among Gen Zers making this choice.

“Obviously you’ve got to put yourself out there, you’ve got to be a bit vulnerable to get into a relationship,” she said. “But you have to think about yourself first. And it’s absolutely fine to say, you know what? I can’t be spending money on a date. I’ve got to budget.”

Traditional dating is hard for some

Lalitaa Suglani, a relationship expert at eHarmony with a doctorate in psychology, told BI that Gen Z’s embrace of virtual first dates offers convenience, flexibility, and safety.

People can “gauge compatibility” and “establish rapport” in a way that’s not energetically draining, she said.

“Virtual first dates can provide valuable insights into a person’s personality, communication style, and interests before meeting in person,” she said.

Baker said he much prefers speaking online rather than in person because he sometimes struggles with in-person interactions.

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“I’m autistic and have social anxiety, so dates are out of my comfort zone,” he said. “As I’m an influencer, I’m used to being in front of a camera but I’m so shy in real life.”

Most of the people he meets online are happy to do this, he said, and it’s a lot less stressful for him.

Carlotta Cattelani, the UK country manager at the dating app Fruitz, told BI that meeting virtually makes dates more accessible.

“If you’re not able to meet in person for whatever reason — be it disability, availability, or preference — you can still date and meet new people online,” she said.

A virtual date is a less formal chance to see if your match is searching for the same things you are, Cattelani said.

“Plus, if it’s not going well, you don’t need to invent tedious small talk whilst waiting for the bill.”

You have to go offline eventually

Sebastian Garrido, a Gen Z digital marketer, told BI he’s seen virtual first dates come back, and believes they are “a really effective way to reduce the price of the date.”

But, he said, he doesn’t think everyone will be on board.

It’s convenient to order your date’s favorite food to their house, he said, plus you can get a good deal. This might help those who feel they are expected to pay for the first date.

“It will reduce significantly the cost of your food on the date, and it’s delivered to your partners’ doorstep. That would be a pro,” he said.

The con, however, is that it “may seem like you didn’t want to spend money on a proper date,” he said.

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“I think at the end of the day, it depends on how much money you’re willing to spend or how much you have,” he said.

Carrie Berk, a content creator and author of the book “My Real-Life Rom-Com: How to Build Confidence and Write Your Own Relationship Rules,” told BI she understands the trend but also believes it has its drawbacks.

“I feel like everything has shifted online these days, so it’s only natural that dating moved into the online space,” she said. “But sometimes we’re on our phones so much we forget the value of that face-to-face interaction.”

She warns that speaking virtually cannot entirely replace meeting someone in person, so FaceTime dates should be used sparingly.

When the pandemic began, Berk, aged 18 at the time, had never used a dating app. She met her first boyfriend online, speaking with him on social media. They dated virtually for eight months.

“When I did meet this person after eight months, he was nothing like how he was on FaceTime,” she said. “I realized I had completely wasted my time.”

It’s easier to be “catfished” on social media, she said, because virtual dates cannot replace the chemistry, body language, and eye contact you might experience in real life.

“We are humans, after all,” she said. “We need that face-to-face interaction, I think, to really fall in love with someone.”

Read the original article on Business Insider

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