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“Hello, can you hear me?”

Not the usual pick-up line, but when IRL dating came to a grinding halt last year, it’s no doubt the first words many digital daters shared with matches.

The popularity of digital first dates has soared during the pandemic. With #StayAtHome being the norm for many, Gen Z daters have rewritten the ‘First Date’ rule book by tossing it out the window.

In fact, digital dates have become ‘a thing’ for everyone (not just to the zoomers!). They allow daters to show their true and authentic selves in a virtual environment where they can also do a low-key vibe check. And this is why a lot of Gen Z seek out online convos to overcome loneliness in their home isolation. According to Ypulse, 43% of dating app users said the apps made them feel less lonely in the pandemic.

So it’s no wonder why, in 2020, Tinder saw half of the Gen Z community video chat with a match, while a third of them went on digital first dates. Especially with the launch of the face-to-face feature, Tinder users find more comfort and safety in digital dating where they can, virtually speaking, dip their toes in the water and get to know their math on their smartphone before braving it out IRL.

Hordes of Gen Z have flocked to the video feature with Khon Kaen, Bangkok and Chiang Mai being the top three Thai cities for Tinder’s video chat.

It’s true that the pre-COVID social norms are making their comeback slowly, but don’t expect digital dating to disappear. Tinder’s latest research found that 40 percent of Gen Z expect to continue to date digitally.

If you haven’t tried Tinder’s video chat yet, here’s what you need to know. First up, don’t fret as safety is top of mind. There’s no need for either party to share a mobile number or any personal contacts to use the in-app video chat. What’s more, consent is a must as both daters have to tap the video icon in order to launch the face-to-face chat.

Now you’re video chat savvy, what to do on a digital date? If you’re matching with a gamer, try some friendly 1:1 competition or even pair up to “fight” other couples. If you’re more into snuggling up (of course, virtually for now!), pick a good flick and watch it together. Foodies don’t feel left behind, you can sync your food delivery orders and enjoy an online dinner.

Most importantly, the potential to find ‘the one’ is boosted with Tinder’s Passport feature available for users to expand their radius and meet a prospective bae outside their area. It’s all easy-peasy, just drop a pin or search the city you wish to explore, and let the swipe magic do the work. Konnichiwa or ni hao anyone?

The pandemic has made it seem like a hopeless time for love to flourish, but with the help of Tinder, having a first date is now a hopeful affair. No matter what your generation, throw away that old dating playbook and let digital possibilities help you write a new one.