Dating apps are so 2021 — people are matching up in the metaverse now.
That’s what happened to UK-based Eilir Roberts, 32, who connected with his now-husband in the 3D virtual reality world. In 2018, Roberts bought an Oculus headset and started spending hours on end in the metaverse to relax and relieve the stress of working as a real-life intensive care doctor during the pandemic.
Then one day he spotted a new “dark haired, bearded avatar with a pink hoodie” in the altspace campsite, which is a central hub for users and their avatars.
“I could hear him chatting with other avatars, and was so impressed by his confidence and presence,” Roberts told The Post. “It took me a few days to build up the courage to actually speak to him; when I finally did there was an instant connection,” he said.
After breaking the ice, Roberts and Marc Charlton, 36, immediately began spending hours chatting and exploring new worlds. Charlton, who had been laid off from his job as a personal trainer and gym manager, also took solace in building an alternate life in the metaverse.
Before long, the online duo discovered that they both identified as members of the LGBTQ+ community and began texting and following each other on social media, which confirmed that their mutual attraction transcended their avatars.
“We connected over hobbies we had in common, similar interests and beliefs,” Roberts said, adding that he fell in love with Charlton’s “confidence, kindness, social intelligence and emotional maturity.”
After about two months of flirting online, Roberts and Charlton decided to meet in person. Roberts booked a five-hour train ride from his home in North Wales to see Charlton in London and spent the ride feeling “extremely nervous” wondering if Charlton actually existed.
“As soon as I saw him waiting for me at the train station car park, the same connection we had in VR was there,” he said. “I feel in love with him all over again!”
Charlton was also relieved to find the attraction was stronger than ever.
“I felt like I completely knew him given the fact that I saw how he interacted with other people and had fun experiences together in the metaverse. So when I met him it didn’t feel too different, other than that I was looking at a real person, not a digital version of a person,” Charlton told The Post.
After their first IRL meeting went so well, the pair quickly planned another one, with Charlton traveling to Wales to visit Roberts in December of 2020. However, this time, the visit coincided with a country-wide COVID-19 lockdown order, and the new couple found themselves unexpectedly living together.
They settled in and less than a year later, in October 2021, Charlton and Roberts decided to tie the knot. The lovebirds are planning to walk down the aisle in North Wales in September 2023, but will also incorporate a VR event to celebrate with their close friends in the metaverse.
Charlton is adamant that meeting in the metaverse, versus on a dating app, made their relationship stronger.
“I really got to know this person through VR,” he said, explaining how the metaverse allowed them to virtually date by attending LGBTQ meetups together and going dancing at 3D nightclubs.
He insists that the metaverse is “very representative of real life” and shared that the couple still enjoy “nights out” together in the metaverse, operating their avatars from separate rooms.
Charlton and Roberts are so convinced that their own love story could become the norm, they started DatesVR — a dating service in the metaverse.
DatesVR hosts several weekly speed-dating events and private events to set users up with compatible matches. The DatesVR events have become popular by word of mouth, welcoming thousands of avatars from all around the world.
“My hope is that DatesVR will give people from all around the world an opportunity to make meaningful connections and hopefully find love,” Roberts said.
After all, he added, “I would still be single if it wasn’t for the metaverse.”