Dating industry thrives during pandemic

TThat old phrase “love will find a way” has clearly found a new lease of life in Ireland over the past 15 months. While hobbies, business ventures, and social activities came to a complete halt in March 2020, the pursuit of romance remained an interest that runs counter to the general trend.

Less than a month after the first lockdown, matchmaking agency Intro saw a 60% increase in demand from clients determined to meet potential partners, regardless of social barriers across the country.

“Even though we were forced to close our Grafton Street office due to Covid-19 in March of last year, interest in our services exploded almost immediately,” says Feargal Harrington, director and co-founder of ‘Intro.

“The isolation has had an effect on both sexes, but the men have certainly been more proactive than ever in expressing their interest.”

With restrictions imposed across the country, people have become less demanding or picky about what they expect from a potential mate:

People’s expectations were certainly less selective or particular, and therefore more manageable.

Feargal Harrington: Director and Co-Founder, Intro Matchmaking.

Covid-19 was the ultimate determinant of this shift, trading traditional hesitation for more ‘I can do’ motivation.

“The pandemic has certainly stopped procrastination, or what I call ‘overanalysis paralysis’. Living with the reality of a pandemic has had the effect of making people less reluctant to admit the desire to share their lives with someone special and appropriate. “

June saw a 112% increase in interest in Intro services year over year, with a significant exodus from online dating influenced by remote working and increasing screen time.

With 1.55 million singles in Ireland and another 400,000 in the separated, divorced and widowed categories, Feargal argues that there is no reason to be alone for those looking for a partner.

“That said, even in an age of digital dating where it couldn’t be easier to bond with like-minded people, loneliness has become an epidemic.

Even though Ireland is currently on the right track to successfully deal with Covid-19, the pandemic has had a significant influence on meeting requests from potential partners.

A recent Amarach poll commissioned by Intro found that 62% of singles will not date someone unless they have been or are about to be vaccinated.

People’s decision-making when looking for a partner has become more politicized.

While the religion or politics of a potential partner might have been a deciding factor for a generation before, today’s stumbling blocks can often depend on attitudes towards water or property taxes.

Likewise, while distance may have cooled the romantic ardor of the lovebirds 20 years ago, the lockdown has served to loosen those reservations: of a relationship via video conferencing, zooming and WhatsApp. Ultimately, it helped people relax their expectations.

Research has also highlighted the impact of certain habits and personality patterns on mate choice, with smoking and meanness being a drag for women.

Conversely, men balked at the brash or arrogant behavior of women.

“By far the most common request we get at Intro for breaking a deal is to smoke. These most divisive lifestyles have polarized non-smokers and smokers to such an extent that few will agree to date both – it’s one or the other.

“Smoking is on the decline in Ireland and we can see that for a perfect deal, more than half of people prefer to say ‘no thanks’ to a smoker,” says Feargal.

Academic achievement also figures prominently in the gender gap.

“Since women tend to stay in education longer, academic achievement is another divide in the matchmaking arena. There are more professional women in Ireland, and our survey shows that in the 25+ age group a significant number will not date someone with a different education level.

Almost a quarter of the women surveyed would not be happy dating someone with a different level of education.

In a line of work consistent with the “no two days are alike” variety, Feargal admits that Intro has been the perfect outlet for his sociable personality. After studying HR, his job
career began as a real estate negotiator working with a number of leading companies before opening Intro a decade ago.

“I love to travel the country, meet all kinds of people, learn all about their lives and listen to their stories. It is a pleasure to come into the office and plan the presentations with the team. Our goal is always to help our members find love, and I like to maintain high standards so that we can continue to provide quality service.

While the romance business in recent times has been heavily influenced by technology and the myriad of options offered by social media, it has resulted in an age division of the business.

“The younger generation in their teens and early twenties have embraced dating apps, often not viewing them as dating sites but rather as social entertainment sites. “

However, less than a quarter of singles and ages 25 and over use online dating channels, while only 11% of those over 55 go online to find romance.

Having recently opened an Intro franchise in Austria, Feargal plans a wider European footprint for the agency in the years to come.

“We have learned a lot over the past decade and have successfully overcome many challenges, especially during the pandemic of the past 15 months. When we were approached by a couple in Vienna to open an operation outside of Ireland, it was the kick-off we needed to think beyond the borders of this island, ”he explains. .

“There is clearly an Irish expat community across Europe that we have already dealt with over the years, but also a larger community of people who clearly need the services we provide. Vienna is a first step in what will be a greater expansion of Intro in the years to come.

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