Transitioning from dating apps to IRL dating is not as easy as it sounds. Though matching with someone doesn't take much effort, you then have to find a way to transition from messaging to exchanging phone numbers to arranging a date... and now virtual dates have been thrown into the the mix. Ever since the coronavirus outbreak caused the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to recommend social distancing, in-person dates have become a thing of the past. Dating app users now have to decide when it's time to initiate a FaceTime date, and Hinge's "Date from Home" feature aims to make that next step a little less awkward.
A recent Hinge study found that approximately one third of all users struggle when it comes time to turn conversations into face-to-face meetings. As a result, many convos taper off before that next step happens, despite the fact that 70% of Hinge users are open to the idea of a virtual date. Hinge hopes to eliminate some uncertainty with the app's new Date from Home feature, which allows you to notify other Hinge users when you're down for a virtual date. The best part: Your matches won't be notified until they're also ready to take that next step.
Here's how it works: Once you start messaging a match, a "Date from Home" menu will appear at the bottom of your convo, asking if you're ready for a video or phone call. If you think you'd like to arrange a virtual date, you can select the option that says "Ready" (and if not, you can select "Not Yet"). Once both users have shared that they're interested in a virtual date, Hinge will notify you and your match directly in your conversation. Never again will you have to worry about whether or not you and your match are on the same page.
For people dating during the coronavirus outbreak, initiating a digital date too early in the convo is definitely a common fear. As Abby, 27, explained to me, she's had some encouraging conversations with matches on dating apps, but asking a match to do a video chat is intimidating, especially when the idea of dating from home is still new to her. "I'm talking to some guys who I think are really promising," she says. "We text pretty much every other day, but I'm hesitant to ask them if they want to do FaceTime. I've been holding off on reaching out because I want to be strategic about pacing — otherwise it could fizzle out."
Hinge also recently updated their in-app survey (called "We Met") so you can report whether or not your virtual date was a success. As Hinge wants to better understand the type of person you're looking for, they'll now ask you if you've had a video or phone date with a person and, if so, whether or not they're the type of person you'd like to get to know better.
Dating from home may be uncharted territory for you, but asking a person on a FaceTime date doesn't have to be awkward. "While we may need to be physically distant right now, we can still be socially connected," Tim MacGougan, Chief Product Officer at Hinge, explains. "We are excited for the launch of 'Date from Home' as a new and easy way for our users to continue their dating lives." So go ahead and say you're ready to take that next step — Hinge promises not to tell until your match is ready, too.