QUARTZ - Feb 16 - In the early days of the pandemic, Tinder users started teleporting themselves into other countries. The feature, normally available with Tinder's paid subscriptions, was so popular that the company made it free for everyone for a month. Bumble followed suit, giving users the option to set their location filters "nationwide". Location has started mattering less. Nicole Parlapiano, VP of marketing for North America at Tinder, also says that Gen Z has a more relaxed, open approach to dating. "I think the world's getting smaller. What matters is good interaction, good conversation. And you can jump on a plane, you can get in a car," said Geoff Cook, CEO of The Meet Group, which owns streaming app MeetMe. OkCupid said in a blog post that since the start of the pandemic "connections and conversations across borders are up 50%, and people are setting their location preferences to 'anywhere' more than ever before.” ~1.5M users say they are open to a long-distance relationship. Dating coach and industry consultant Steve Dean said his clients have been more willing to widen their geographical perimeter during the pandemic. Eric Resnick, longtime online dating coach and industry consultant, is skeptical. "He wonders, how do you navigate a new online relationship? Are you exclusive, or do you also date locally?" "There's potential for it, but I think it's inherently risky," he said. "Nothing's real until you're in the same room at the same time as someone."