Metaverse Dating Could Help You Find Real Love in VR

Pick your best-looking avatar

  • The dating app Flirtual is designed to match VR users and arrange get-togethers in social VR applications. 
  • There’s a growing trend of metaverse dating. 
  • Experts say virtual dating has its limits, and users still crave in-person connections.
woman wearing VR goggles touching air while experiencing cyberspace in studio with neon illumination

Manu Vega / Getty Images

You now don’t even need to get off your couch to go on dates, thanks to advances in virtual reality (VR). 

Flirtual is a dating app designed to match VR users and arrange get-togethers in social VR applications. The app lets you create Tinder-like profiles using your avatar and is part of a growing trend of metaverse dating.

"We’ve seen a rise in what we like to call "digital intimacy," where singles are looking for relationships that are completely online and without any intention of meeting in the real world," Maria Sullivan, vice president of the Dating Group, which runs about 30 online dating sites, told Lifewire in an email interview. "Dating in the metaverse allows people to create connections without any external or materialistic judgments one might make on a traditional dating app."

Dress Up Is Optional

Flirtual doesn’t actually work in VR and is only currently available on Android, Windows, and browsers. However, the app’s developers say the idea is to allow people to find connections, then go on dates in social VR apps like Meta’s Horizon Worlds. 

The Flirtual app looks like many online dating applications where you can set up a picture and a profile. On Flirtual, however, you upload an image of your avatar, or virtual representation of yourself commonly used in VR or metaverse applications.

And in another sign that it’s no ordinary dating app, Flirtual asks which VR equipment you own and what your favorite social VR apps are. The point of the app, as the developers explain on their website, is to focus on things other than appearance. 

"Why are we doing this?" the website says. "Because VR has changed our lives. Honestly. It's helped us come out of our shells, meet some of our best friends, survive quarantine, and fall in love."

Flirtual is just one of many VR dating apps on the market. For example, Planet Theta also bills itself as "a place to meet new people in the Metaverse and create lasting relationships," according to its website. You can use the app to go on dates in virtual forests or at a bar.

VR Dating Pitfalls

Sullivan claims the metaverse can be a way for singles to dip their toes into the dating world for the first time, adding that starting a new relationship can be intimidating, but the metaverse allows singles to shed insecurities they might typically feel while setting up a date. 

"The pressures of selecting the perfect picture and drafting witty prompts can take the fun out of dating, but with the social discovery that the metaverse offers, singles can feel more at ease starting new conversations and ‘meeting’ new people," Sullivan added.

Colorful couple emerging from two computer monitors, embracing, digital composite

Lucas Racasse / Getty Images

But Sullivan acknowledged that virtual dating has its limits and that people still crave in-person connections and everything that comes with it. 

"While dating in the metaverse can be a great option, others may still feel isolated and lonely in a relationship that may never come together in person," Sullivan said. "Singles should be honest with themselves and what their personal expectations are. If you’re fine with a digital approach to companionship, the metaverse might be the right path. However, if you’re looking for someone who will physically be by your side, it may be best to stick to traditional dating."

The anonymity of VR dating can also amplify many of the problems plaguing online dating in general, James Kaplan, CEO of VR company MeetKai, told Lifewire in an email interview. Catfishing and harassment are likely to be even bigger problems in VR, and there’s also people’s security to worry about. 

"I believe that Web3 will offer some interesting ways to get around the "just create a new account" problem by implementing new verification practices and requiring users to have a real stake in their profile. [The end result could be] that if they lose it, they get punished proportionally," Kaplan added.

"Dating in the metaverse allows people to create connections without any external or materialistic judgments..."

Dating coach Erika Davian told Lifewire via email that even though VR dating uses avatars, looks still count. The culture of online dating puts too much emphasis on looking good in a photo and having a perfect profile.

"When we meet someone in real life, the person we see in front of us often doesn't match the person we'd created in our heads," Davian said. "With the ability to make an avatar look however you want them to look, I think the transition from meeting online to meeting in person may be much harder."

Whatever the outcome of virtual dates, the pressure is still on to look your best. Fortunately, there are many ways to dress up your avatar, and many famous designers are now selling virtual clothing.

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