How the Coronavirus Changed Dating
The world has certainly changed a lot since March 2020, and in ways we never would have expected. We are dealing with newfound fears regarding the safety of our loved ones and living in a world where touching other people, sexually and platonically, is a complicated process. Dating is never easy, and when it comes to meeting people safely while an unseen virus wreaks havoc, COVID-19 has certainly thrown a curveball at many single people.
Since the first wave of quarantines in early 2020, dating apps have seen a major spike in activity. The increase in virtual dating makes perfect sense for multiple reasons: People aren't able to meet others as they previously would have in bars or at outdoor events, and it's safer to meet virtually first. Quarantine also contributes to a feeling of isolation, so many people turn to dating as a distraction.
I was one of those people. Initially, while quarantining with multiple family members and generally trying to figure out how to live a socially distanced life, dating felt like a little bubble where I could somewhat escape reality.
As a woman, my typical dating concerns before the pandemic included wondering what I should wear on a date, where we would meet, where I would stash my pepper spray, and whether there was a way to find an emotional connection in a hookup-focused dating culture. Now, if I find a dating match interesting enough to pursue for a date, I have to consider their COVID-19 status, how well they've been social distancing and whether they've taken the pandemic seriously enough in general.
Since I was active on multiple dating platforms, I came across an array of pickup lines on profiles that left me exasperated and shaking my head. I dealt with the not-so-clever "Quarantine and chill?" line and the crude "Let's socially distance them cheeks." I wish I were making these up.
Despite these antics, dating during a pandemic has yielded some positive realizations. For instance, as an extrovert somewhat forced to become an introvert, I've developed enough appreciation for virtual dating events that they help bring back a sense of normalcy. And, for all the schmucks we may come across on dating apps, the times when we're able to develop even temporary connections feel exceptionally good. Most important, we're all developing a stronger appreciation for physical touch. Let's hope that once the world gets back to "normal," we'll never take that appreciation for granted.
Notes for success
I don't know if I've discovered anything new, per se, but I have discovered what works. Try to take these notes into consideration if you're dating during these difficult times.
A lot of people are extremely stressed right now, whether they're worried about financial situations or their physical safety. Do your best to be respectful while chatting with someone or on a virtual date.
Be safe! I can't overemphasize the importance of this, especially after having multiple people ask me to meet them in enclosed spaces like their car or apartment. Take the time to get to know your matches virtually, develop a rapport, and sanitize and wear your mask wherever you go. Just keep in mind that we are still living in a pandemic.
Many of the ways we used to go out on dates are no more. This is a great time to think in new ways about dates. For instance, you can try having a virtual movie night, game night or picnic. Simply staring at the other person over Zoom may be a bit boring and result in some awkward silences, so take the time to plan little activities to stir things up.
Human beings are hardwired to need emotional connections with others, and that's what makes existing in a pandemic so difficult. Whether you're trying to flirt a bit or seek a genuine connection, remember to take things slowly and safely.