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As “social distancing” becomes the new norm, will online dating start to lose its appeal?

A woman walks past an ad for Tinder

Tinder has canceled the release of a new choose-your-own-adventure series due to COVID-19. Sean Gallup/Getty Images

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You could say online dating — meeting people virtually while you decide whether or not to meet them in person — is already a form of “social distancing.”

Now that we’re in throes of COVID-19 and another form of social distancing has become best practice, what will become of Tinder, OkCupid and Bumble?

Thomas Jerin is pretty active in the world of online dating. He’s on Tinder and Grindr, and goes on one or two dates a week. But this week Jerin — who is 25 and lives in Oregon — canceled every date.

“I feel a little bit like Chicken Little for it, but I canceled that date,” Jerin said. “And then I had some things planned for this weekend that I’m canceling as we speak.”

Jerin is not telling people that he’s canceling because he’s worried about getting COVID-19. “I’m so ashamed to admit it,” he said.

Analysts say online dating apps are bound to take a hit.

“As the virus keeps spreading, that fear is going to increase,” said Ali Mogharabi, a senior equity analyst at Morningstar. “What that means for the company is higher churn and less growth in subscribers. I mean, you look at the stock and it’s certainly come down a lot.”

Dating apps are starting to make adjustments to the new reality. Tinder has canceled the international release of “Swipe Night” — a choose-your-own-adventure series that was scheduled to launch internationally this weekend. The company has also added a pop-up screen that reminds people to wash their hands and not touch their faces. In the long run, according to Mogharabi, dating apps are likely to remain profitable.

“In our opinion, after growth and the coronavirus cases plateau — or let’s just say slow down — you know, fears begin to subside,” Mogharabi said.

Until then, “Netflix and chill” might be something you want to do on your own.

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