AXIOS - Aug 30 - Dating is expensive, and many people are deciding they'd rather meet virtually first in case it doesn't work out. The average American spends ~$700 annually on dates, according to a 2019 LendingTree study. "But the pandemic was a jolt to our systems," says Logan Ury, a behavioral scientist and the director of relationship science at Hinge. "Video chat was normalized, and it's only natural that it would extend to dating, because dates can be really costly and time-consuming." At the beginning of the pandemic, almost no Hinge users had been on a virtual date, per a survey conducted by the dating app. Now, close to half of them (44%) have been on a video date, and 65% of those people say they'll incorporate virtual dating into their routines even when it is safe to meet in person.