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Dating During COVID-19

By Melissa Lipari

As Coronavirus rages on, intimacy and human connection has been drastically affected. No longer are we in the position to go on a romantic dinner date or to swipe right for a casual hook-up. As much as we love our alone time, we are a species that thrives on connecting with one another. According to GoodTherapy.org, “Human connection brings complex values to our lives: relationships give us a sense of belonging in the group, a sense of identity in contrast to others in that group, an almost therapeutic-support system, and reason not to feel lonely.” Whether these values derive from mental or physical sources, we all find pleasure in sharing parts of ourselves. During COVID-19, we are forced to become socially cut-off. We can barely see our family or close friends as it is, so the option of meeting new people is completely off the table. Or is it? 

In a generation wired to technology, many people are quite relationship savvy on dating apps such as Tinder, Bumble, and Hinge. When boredom strikes, many open their preferred platform and start thumbing through possible candidates. The difference now, is that it is increasingly difficult to meet people in person. I’m not sure about you, but nothing about wearing an N95 mask on a first date screams “sexy” even though they are completely necessary in our current state. It is also potentially life threatening to meet up with a stranger during this time, especially if they were exposed to the virus or you do not take necessary safety precautions.

Despite this, singles everywhere have found several loopholes that prove online dating is far from over. In fact, it now reaches its highest potential. BBC.com reported that, “Tinder users made 3 billion swipes worldwide on Sunday 29 March, the most the app has ever recorded in a single day.” While some users are just looking for conversation, dating apps have become the leading force in creating safe in-person meet ups during this pandemic, specifically for people who are eager to put themselves out there again. While there are “stay at home” orders in many states, places such as New York City have eased up on outdoor activities during the government shutdown. State parks have reopened in the last few weeks, allowing people to relax outdoors and soak in some serotonin - with or without a date. Friends of mine have used city parks to meet potential partners during COVID-19. Parks are usually quite busy or are manned by police officers. This will certainly ease the fear that your Tinder date might be a serial killer.

Even though I have been in a relationship for almost three years, I think we have all had that valid fear of being kidnapped on a first date at one point or another. With “safe-dating” as many singles call it, you can meet your crush at a public place without the pressure of having to take the person home and without sharing your address. Keeping cordial distance and wearing a mask are without-a-doubt essential. In fact, some have even coordinated their first date outfits with their face coverings (pandemic but make it fashion?). With restaurants and coffee shops being closed for the foreseeable future, outdoor public spaces allow for picnics or walks in the park to become the new dating activity, in the most secure way possible.

Zoom has become a daily occurrence for many students and professionals. Yet the conferencing site has also become a hot spot for “wine nights” with girlfriends and for - you guessed it - virtual dates. On 90 Day Fiancée, a popular reality TV show on TLC, production has brought back previous cast members for a self-recorded spin-off entitled 90 Day Fiancée: Self-Quarantined. Fan favorite, Caesar Mack, has used Zoom to mimic a restaurant. The reality star has shown how he connects with women on dating apps, then arranges for a time to meet on Zoom. He will coordinate the same meal with his date and they proceed to eat together or make their favorite cocktails to share over conversation - all while creating a genuine connection in the same way they would have in person. Many singles are following Caesar’s steps, by using Zoom as a place to speed date during the 45-minute time limit. It brings upon a sense of fun that many of us are currently lacking. With work-from-home responsibilities that continue to pile up and the impending doom of the government reopening too early, we could all use a distraction. While I do not believe this is what Zoom executives had in mind when they created the service, it seems to be faring well during these circumstances.

Another application that has become quite popular during “Coronavirus dating” is Google Docs. Google Docs has become a place for singles to become pen-pals with one another. This might seem a bit unconventional in the age of texting and Facetime but it allows for you to be vulnerable, while easing the paranoia of someone screen-grabbing your deepest feelings and sending them to all of their friends in a group chat. Friends of mine have used Google Docs as a place to journal their feelings with long-distance lovers, without having to state their emotional baggage in person. Becoming pen-pals has sparked the sense of excitement and urgency of waiting for a reply from someone you have feelings towards, without the painful read receipts to ruin a romantic moment.

Whether you are ready to put yourself out there or not, know that online dating is still an option during one of the most uncertain times in history. It can be hard to turn off CNN or to remove yourself from the unsettling news that continues to happen every day, but if you are willing to give online dating a try, now is the perfect time to do so (safely). We are all living through a global pandemic and could use a little distraction from the quarrels of the new normal. Take a break from binge-watching your favorite series and make a new connection, you never know who you might meet.

Here are some tips on how to safely date during COVID-19:

  1. Do not share personal information such as your address or banking details with a partner.
  2. Only engage in meetups if you feel healthy (that goes for your partner as well).
  3. Stalk their social media before meeting in person – there is no shame in making sure your partner is not a catfish.
  4. Only show your face on video chat if your partner is doing the same.
  5. Share your location with friends if you plan on meeting your date for the first time.
  6. Know that you can politely end/decline any form of communication whenever you see fit.

References

https://www.goodtherapy.org/blog/profound-impact-of-human-connection

https://www.bbc.com/news/business-52743454

https://www.tlc.com/tv-shows/90-day-fiance-self-quarantined/full-episodes/on-lockdown

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