Exploring lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans (LGBT+) and heterosexual people’s use of dating apps to negotiate intimate relationships during and after COVID-19 lockdowns and social distancing.

Research questions

  • How did people use dating apps to start or maintain relationships (including sexual and romantic relationships, and friendships)?
  • How did these relationships affect wellbeing and personal resilience?
  • How might dating apps support our emotional and personal needs?
  • Do dating apps encourage or discourage behaviours that increase viral risk?
  • How did social restrictions affect the intimate relationships of LGBT+ and heterosexual people?
  • Can dating apps be a place for new kinds of intimate relationships, and can they help people in difficult times?

Our methods

We are commissioning a national online survey about dating app usage in LBGT+ and heterosexual people. We are also doing in-depth online interviews, again with LGBT+ and heterosexual dating app users.

We will be working with service providers and community representatives. If you are interested in collaborating with us, please do get in touch.


The project is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) (reference: ES/W002426/1) and it runs from May 2022 to September 2024. 

Collaboration with Black Beetle Health

We are delighted to be collaborating with the team at Black Beetle Health, led by Harvey A Kennedy-Pitt, Health Education and Promotion Specialist, to better understand the support services available to LGBT+ people of colour and to build capacity among community organisations for research activities. The collaboration sees staff from Black Beetle Health joining us for a series of research secondments to allow the exchange of expertise between teams, and resulted in a report, Collaboration for Change: Exploring effective change between academics and community organisations.

Black Beetle Health is a Manchester-based digital public health charity, supporting the health and wellbeing of Black LGBT+ people. This collaboration is funded by a University of Manchester School of Sciences Community Partnership and runs until summer 2023.