It’s more than just a hook-up

Online Dating Apps During the Pandemic 

Written by: Debby Lo, Bianca Wong, Kawaljot Kaur

In recent years, there has been an increase in the usage of online dating apps, especially during the pandemic. With the number of apps and the varieties increasing, there’s no doubt that people will start opting for such platforms to find friends and partners. 

Dating in real life can already be exciting but nerve-wracking, from looking around at your social circles, your workplace, or even at your weekend yoga class for someone who fits your ideal partner description, as well as checking off the items on what you are physically looking for in a partner. Dating apps make this process a little bit easier, as most of them allow you to pick the range of distance, as well their age and gender. 

While Covid has affected all of us in different ways, being unable to meet people in real life has been another struggle, which is why a lot of young adults have opted for online dating apps to kill boredom or to meet new people. The increase in the number of apps and the types of apps have certainly given users a wide range of options in the method of online dating they choose, ranging from swiping to audio-video apps!

Hong Kong itself has a great number of dating apps available in the market, accommodating the needs of different groups. With the increase in emphasis on inclusivity and diversity in the city, dating apps are no exception. With dating apps like Bumble that allow women to message first, to apps like Grindr that are for all the single gay men in the city! With the increase in choices, everyone has a platform to choose from and use to find friends and date in Hong Kong. 

Difference types of dating apps

Nowadays, there are numerous types of dating apps designed to help people connect regardless of their locations. Ranging from the well-known and largest dating app, Tinder (With more than 6.5 million users recorded in 2021!), to the ones that strive to empower women, Bumble, different dating apps are designed to suit the needs of different users. Here we have briefly grouped some most used dating apps into three main categories based on their function and way of matching. 

1. The “Swiping” ones

The first category is the ones that include the traditional “Swiping” function in dating apps. This includes Tinder, Bumble, Coffee Meets Bagel, OkCupid, etc. In these kinds of dating apps, there will be several user profiles for you to choose from. The swiping function allows you to choose the ones that you would like to connect with. A swipe to the left indicates that you are not interested in connecting or matching with that person, and a swipe to right means you are interested. And once that person you swiped right chose to connect with you as well, there will be a chatroom opened for you two to get to know each other! And in some dating apps such as Tinder and Bumble, there is a function called “SuperSwipe”. Through “SuperSwiping” another user, it would let you tell that user you are really interested in them, and your profile will be prioritized to be shown on their swipe cards. And in fact, some dating apps provide more meaningful connections between other users. For instance, in Coffee Meets Bagel, users are first guided to complete their profiles, and you will have to answer questions that help present your personality and interest in your profile. After filling out your profile, Coffee Meets Bagel will then select a group of users that they believe are your best potential matches based on your profile (personality, interests, preferences). You can then form deeper connections with individuals that share similar interests as you!

2. The “late night talks”

Apart from the mentioned traditional swiping function, there are dating apps that allow you to experience those deep, late-night chats when you feel lonely at night and just wish to have someone to call with! Apps such as Goodnight, Omegle, and HeyMandi, audio and text functions are incorporated! Instead of texting or matching through text-based profiles, these apps help you to find a friend or romantic partner through randomly matching users, and voice chats are created! And if you would like to be guaranteed privacy and anonymity, the Goodnight app may be a better choice for you. It’s not compulsory to add a profile picture or register with your other social media accounts, and you can just freely call someone and make friends anonymously! 

3. Queer 

The last main category is LGBTQ+ dating apps. If you are part of the LGBTQ+ community, and you just want to guarantee that all your potential matches are in the same community as well, here are some famous dating apps that are best for the LGBTQ+ community. For example, Grindr, the world’s largest dating app/matching platform for gay, bi, trans and queer people to connect. (It’s mainly targeting male users). Lex, which is primarily designed for lesbian, bisexual, trans, genderqueer, etc. (Basically anyone but straight men.) Another famous queer dating app would be Her. This app allows you to create a dating profile using your social media accounts or email address. But one thing special about this app is that cisgender men are not allowed to create profiles on this platform. Providing a welcoming and safe community platform for you to find single queer individuals in your area!  

Online dating as the new global trend

The Covid-19 Pandemic also referred to as the Loneliness Pandemic, has caused a surge in social distancing and isolation due to the quarantine laws, and has encouraged members of the society to opt for online dating apps to find new friends and life partners. While we would expect the covid loneliness to creep up against most of us, it might come off as shocking to know that this hasn’t been the case for everyone. Studies from the largest dating app, Tinder, have shown that people have become much more reliant on online dating apps during the pandemic. Tinder has found out that since the start of the pandemic, the number of messages, swipes, and downloads has immensely increased. And in March 2020, Tinder recorded its highest number of swipes in a single day (reaching 3 billion swipes per day for the first time). And in fact, not just Tinder, but the same applies to all online dating apps. According to, the global online dating app downloads have increased up to 82% in early March 2020. 

But in fact, due to the change in our lifestyle during this pandemic, online dating may perhaps become the new global trend of dating even after the pandemic. Technology has significantly improved our quality of life, and particularly with dating, we can now connect with people all around the world regardless of social or cultural backgrounds. Communication has become much more convenient, just like during the pandemic, we no longer have to leave the house to go on a date! The advancements in technology have paved the way for a much easier and convenient way to connect with people that share similar interests and hobbies as you. And in fact, gifts can now be sent virtually as well! That includes online coupons, ordering takeaways for your love, or even rideshares to send them home safely.   

And since the pandemic, various kinds of dating apps have adapted to the way that users would like to connect and meet new people. Given the continuous advancement in technology, this idea of online dating is just going to continue and become the new global trend, and eventually, online dating may soon be replacing the traditional way of meeting new people in person. 

Stereotypes of online dating apps 

Regardless of the benefits of online dating apps, these “online romances” are still often being stigmatized and regarded as a platform seeking casual relationships (e.g hookups) or short-term relationships. For a better understanding of these possible stereotypes of online dating apps, we have created an online survey, asking individuals who have or do not have any experience using dating apps, hence discovering the possible thoughts they may have on online dating apps. 


Infographics for survey results. (Graphic: Bianca Wong)

In total, we have received 23 responses. 65% of the respondents are female, and 34.7% are male. We have first asked them some basic questions about their history of using online dating apps. 60% of our respondents have used online dating apps such as Tinder, Goodnight, Coffee Meets Bagel, Bumble, and Grindr.  And 85.7% of them have used dating apps to meet new friends, 64.3% are looking for relationships. And in fact, only 28.6% of our respondents are looking for some casual relationships (e.g hookups). 

We’ve asked the respondents what they think about the common stereotypes of online dating apps based on their experience, and here are some interesting responses we have received. More than half of the respondents believe that it is true that there are these common stereotypes of dating apps, and at times, they may even feel ashamed to tell others that they have been using these apps, And some of the respondents, in fact, did encounter other users who are merely seeking for casual relationships like hookups and that they think that sometimes other people on dating apps often judge others based on their physical appearances. Which makes them think at times, meeting people in person may be a better option than online dating apps. Amanda Wong is a 56 years old housewife living in Hong Kong. But unlike the young ones, she believes online dating apps are too dangerous for young teenagers to use. She worried about her children registering on these platforms and may encounter cyber crimes 

But on the other hand, other people disagree with these common stereotypes and prefer meeting people through online platforms, because they can choose to match with people who share similar interests and topics. We interviewed Heng, a student from Hong Kong, and he shares his experiences of using online dating apps. 

Social video on Heng sharing his experience of using online dating apps. (Video: Bianca Wong)

Opposing Viewpoints on Online Dating 

While dating apps have their merits and have helped many in finding friends and partners in life, there are still quite a several people who oppose the idea of using an online dating platform to find their significant other. This could be due to various reasons, including but are not limited to being afraid of getting catfished online or finding it hard to make real connections with people as they would if they met them the old-school way. 

Neha Kazi Karim is an international final-year Molecular Biology and biotechnology student at The University of Hong Kong. Coming from a Muslim-Bangladeshi family, her views on dating and marriage may vary slightly as religion plays a big role in her life. Education takes the front seat in her life, and she believes that dating at this age might be a distraction while she focuses on her studies and career. Neha believes that arranged marriage will work best for her, rather than using dating apps to find her potential partner, as her parents will be able to pick out the best match for her. 

While the concept of arranged marriages is also evolving, where individuals usually get the opportunity to talk and get to know each other before they tie the know, Neha finds this way to be the best way to meet her potential partner as the wisdom and experiences of her parents will help her in finding and sifting out the most suitable match for her. While love and understanding between the two individuals are important factors, marriage is a union of two families, and she strongly believes that you need support from the parents of both sides for the marriage to work well. 

A girl using an online dating app Bumble. (Video: Kawaljot Kaur)


While most people prefer the traditional ways of dating, there has definitely been an increase in the number of online dating app users. According to a recent survey we did, it was found that over 60% of the respondents in their early 20s tend to use online dating apps. While some of them used the apps to look for new friends, others were looking for relationships. Only  29% of the respondents were looking for a casual hook-up through these apps. Does this break down the stereotype we normally have of dating apps, that they are only used for those looking for a casual fling instead of something serious? 

Especially with the Covid-10 pandemic, there has evidently been an increase in the number of online dating apps. 52.2% of the respondents think that romance has increasingly happened via online dating apps, ever since the travel restrictions and social distancing measures were implemented. Users found it easier to connect with people through these online dating platforms as they felt isolated and bored staying at home and in quarantine. One female respondent mentioned that meeting friends online helped her eventually develop these virtual relationships into real-life ones. 

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