How virtual reality dating could lead to real-world love

  • The dating site Dating.com is launching a virtual reality dating service.
  • The company’s new app lets you meet potential matches in the form of an avatar or graphic representation, instead of displaying a photo.
  • Some dating experts say that bonding in the metaverse can be harder than in the real world.

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The metaverse may be virtual, but the love is real.


The dating site Dating.com is launching a virtual reality dating service. The company’s new app lets you meet potential matches in the form of an avatar or graphic representation, instead of displaying a photo. To mark the occasion, Dating.com plans to host the weddings of three real couples who will get married virtually in the metaverse. It’s an example of the growing appeal of dating apps for the VR space.


“Because you’re texting or voice chatting in real time in virtual reality, you can get to know someone much faster than exchanging messages through a dating app,” said Don Heider, executive director of the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics. who researches online communities, told Lifewire in an email interview. “If there’s a connection, people can get a lot more information about a person, such as their background, likes, dislikes, etc., than through a series of messages through apps. ”



Virtual love?

With the growing popularity of the metaverse concept, many dating sites are jumping into the virtual space. Planet Theta, for example, lets you wander through virtual reality realms and have short dates with people you meet. There is also Nevermet which allows you to meet and greet each other via avatars.



Dating.com claims that virtual reality matches via avatars allow people to make connections without any superficial factors they might be subjected to in the physical world. Of course, many users complain that metaverse avatars are less than flattering.


“Our virtual dating space is a great place for singles looking to get into dating for the first time. Making new connections and starting a new relationship can be daunting, but dating in the metaverse lets singles get rid of any insecurities they might feel when setting up a traditional online dating profile,” Maria Sullivan, vice president of Dating.com, said in a press release.


Metaverse dating allows some people to do things they can’t do in real life, Alex Pasykov, CEO of Taimi, an LGBTQIA+ dating app, told Lifewire via email. “For example, I’ve heard many stories from people with disabilities about how the metaverse has helped them find friends, a partner, or a date,” he added. Virtual reality dating can also “reduce the stress experienced by those with social anxiety in traditional digital or real-world environments because it’s not like a real dating scene.”


In an email interview, dating coach Grace Lee told Lifewire that one of the benefits of using the metaverse for dating is that you can completely reinvent yourself.


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“As an avatar, you are ageless,” Lee added. “You don’t have to live in a major metropolitan center to meet a lot of people. For those who have felt marginalized by factors such as race, economic status, or even size, the Metaverse offers a way to overcome these barriers and probably to be more themselves.”


More advanced features promise unusual date ideas. “Imagine meeting on a date to walk around Paris or fight giant monsters in real time,” Lee said.


But metaverse dating, while “fun and exciting to imagine”, still falls short of rivaling online dating. Lee pointed out that VR Chat, a leading metaverse social site, has an all-time high of 42,000 concurrent users. On the other hand, dating apps, as a whole, have around 323 million users.



The Disadvantages of Metaverse Dating

Although dating in the metaverse means never having to leave your couch, some experts warn that the love of virtual reality may not last. Jessica Alderson, co-founder and relationship expert of dating site So Syncd, said it can be harder to make connections in the metaverse than in the real world.


“If you choose to appear as an avatar that looks nothing like you really are, that might be fun, but you won’t be sharing your authentic self with your date,” Alderson said. “For some people it can almost be a form of escapism, like having an alter ego. This means it can be difficult to make deep connections because authenticity plays a major role in building a bond. .”


…metaverse dating allows singles to shake off any insecurities they might feel when creating a traditional online dating profile.

One of the major downsides to metaverse dating is that it’s not policed ​​like the physical world, Alderson pointed out. “It can mean that people can behave inappropriately towards others but not feel the ramifications the same way,” she added.


And, once you get to know someone in the metaverse, taking things to the next level can be difficult. Virtual dating lacks the inevitable physical factor that tech companies still haven’t figured out.


“Obviously you’re not able to show or receive physical affection in the metaverse,” Alderson said. “Hugs, kisses, sex, etc., are pretty much out of the question. You can follow the movements, but it’s not the same as in real life. For many people, the physical side of a relationship is incredibly important.”

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