Covid-19: Dating Apps, Social Connection, Loneliness & Mental Health in a Pandemic

Given the rise of dating apps (e.g. Bumble, Tinder, Plenty of Fish etc.) since 2010, the very nature of social connections, entering sexual relationships and seeking companionship has changed.

Loneliness and Social Connectedness are important factors to positive health and wellbeing to individuals’ in society, and for these two cohorts in society, who through the advice of friends, family and/or peers they may choose to download one or several dating apps onto their digital devices, as a means of searching for a connection, companionship, friendship and/or lover.

The rules of dating has changed and for older adults who may have been married for many decades, becoming single in later life could be a daunting prospect.

Currently, in the Covid-19 pandemic, it is likely many people young and old are using dating apps as a means to socially, emotionally, and sexually connect with others.

This project explores a myriad of facets associated to the experiences of dating Apps in a bid to identify and experience social(sex) connections, intimacy, sexuality by adults across different age cohorts, and including older adults (50+ years).

Publications, blog pieces, conference presentations

  1. Marston, H.R.,  Earle, S., Morgan, J., & Hadley, R.A. (forthcoming). Ethical Concerns and Risks Surrounding Dating Apps: Findings from a UK Covid-19 Study. In: Ethics and Aging: A Cross-Disciplinary Approach. Niles-Yokum, K., & Marston, H.R. (Eds).
  2. Marston, H.R., Morgan, D.J., Earle, S., & Hadley, R.A. (2023). Shiver Me Tinders and Ring a Ding for a Fling—Sex Tech Use during COVID-19: Findings from a UK Study. Healthcare; 11(6), 897;
  3. Marston, H. R., Niles-Yokum, K., Earle, S., Gomez, B., & Lee, D. M. (2020). OK Cupid, Stop Bumbling around and Match Me Tinder: Using Dating Apps Across the Life Course. Gerontology and Geriatric Medicine.
  4. Marston, H.R., & Morgan, D.J. (2020). Lockdown 2.0: Gunpowder Plot, Digital Christmas, Sex and Relationships. Ageing Issues Blog, 2nd November 2020. The British Society of Gerontology.
  5. Marston, H.R., et al. (2021). “Fancy A Bumble And We Can Tinder Or Grindr For Plenty Of Fish”. To be presented at the European Sociological Association Conference.
  6. Marston, H.R., et al. (2021). “Dating in the 21st Century and a Pandemic: How do Dating Apps Bridge Social, Emotional, and Sexual Connections?”. To be presented at the British Society of Gerontology annual Conference. 8th July 2021.

Aims and objectives

This multi-methods initial study aims to:

  1. Explore the motivations of using mobile dating apps by adults in society who are aged 18+ years and older adults (50+ years)
  2. Explore the motivations of using dating Apps by young and older adults, that are known to experience social isolation and loneliness
  3. Explore the barriers and enablers of using technology to access dating apps
  4. Explore the privacy and risk associated facets of using dating apps
  5. Explore the design features associated to dating apps and the impact these features have on user engagement
  6. Explore the adults wellbeing, and social connections, of users engaging with dating apps
  7. Explore the intimacy, fulfilment and sexual experiences and pleasure of engaging with users via dating apps
  8. Explore the behaviour and narratives of users who have met via dating apps

Research questions

  1. What impact do Dating Apps offer adults across the life span in their emotional, physical, mental health and wellbeing?
  2. How do Dating Apps (if any) reduce social isolation and enhance social connectedness for older adults?
  3. What are the Impact, behaviour and usability experiences of engaging with Dating Apps?


Since the COVID-19 outbreak,  the experience of loneliness, social connections and intimacy have become talking points across various communities, individuals and social networks.

This online survey will focus primarily on dating apps specifically used during Covid-19 lockdown.

Project partners

  • Dr Hannah R. Marston (PI) – is the Research Fellow in the Health and Wellbeing Priority Research Area
  • Dr Sarah Earle (Co-I) – is the Director of the Health and Wellbeing Priority Research Area
  • Dr Deborah Morgan (Co-I) is a Senior Research Fellow in the Centre for Innovative Ageing at Swansea University
  • Dr Robin Hadley (Co-I) is an Independent Researcher, and holds an honorary fellowship with the Open University

Ethical approval

Approved by the OU and Swansea University.

Ref: HREC/3441/Marston


Seed corn funding [£3330.00] received from the Health & Wellbeing SRA 2020-2021

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