If you spent any time on social media during quarantine, you probably saw the popular meme about how pandemic dating in 2020 is like choosing your partner for the apocalypse. Reflecting on the wild ride that is this year, the light-hearted remark gets to the heart of finding love during a global pandemic. It truly does feel like the stakes are raised.
Dating before the pandemic was already a minefield of expectations and social mores. Now, navigating the dating scene when required to wear a mask and social distance can create comfort level and logistical challenges. There is also plenty of space for creativity. BWBacon spoke with some Denver singles searching for connections, and asked them about how they approached dating during this time. Names have been changed for this article.
For many of us, quarantine brought about ample time for self-reflection and connecting virtually with others. We all had a moment to breathe, reassess our priorities, and gain a greater understanding of what’s most important to us. Those clear intentions and desires lead to healthier, happier relationships in the long run.
Rachel: "Coronavirus and the quarantine didn’t really change my priorities. I take the mindset that I’ve always been really good on my own, so I didn’t want to date anyone anymore than I did previously. I just went about dating in a different way. My dates turned into walks in the park, which is usually how I break up with people. I had to figure out how to start something that way instead of end it. The way that I view it is that I’m the only single one in my friend group, so I’m always out with couples and wasn’t usually approached by people anyways. My options were online before the pandemic, so the quarantine did not significantly change my opportunities for dating."
Bruce: "I spent extra time arranging my bar cart. In seriousness though, being forced to self-isolate for a potentially undetermined amount of time certainly makes you want or long for human connection. If you lived alone and were actively dating before the pandemic, then forced to be alone, the natural reaction to that is to be lonely. Not having the option to meet someone organically definitely changes the landscape. While my priorities aren’t too different, I would say my opportunities have changed because I used to meet people from going out. With that option taken away, it makes meeting someone in person much harder."
Digitally dating and video calling before agreeing to meet in person also allows a pressure-free opportunity to learn about someone on a deeper level instead of shouting over the bass to each other at a crowded bar. Some people prefer a period of getting to know each other before diving in. The pandemic has made this the norm in 2020.
Rachel: "I prefer to connect in person. I won’t do any video dating. When in lock-down, I would have a responsible social distance walk or picnic and see people that way. I feel like I can’t connect with people that way over a video call. I know where I am at and what I want. I take it very seriously. So having a casual, small-talk conversation over the phone doesn't feel genuine enough for me."
Bruce: "Honestly, online and app dating feels more like a hobby or something to pass the time for me. I wouldn’t go on a video date, it’s not my cup of tea. I did hear about people doing Zoom themed dates where they dress up, drink together, or make a meal together virtually. Another friend did a zoo date, a virtual experience where they toured the zoo online together. For me, I started associating Zoom and video calls with work, so the last thing I wanted to do at the end of the day was jump on with someone I’ve never met and try to flirt with them. I would rather go on a walk with someone than sit behind a screen."
Pandemic dating must face additional hurdles such as mask requirements in public. It’s important to check in with what people are comfortable with. Do they prefer only takeout? Are they open to taking their mask off in a private home?
For example, if two singles are healthy and decide to meet in person, having a picnic outside would be considered a mostly safe activity. On top of that, without many flashy distractions, it is easier to tell if you could have a deeper emotional connection with someone.
By the same token, some people have found it easier to avoid dating limbo. The pandemic has made it easier to share honest feelings about moving forward or moving on if it isn’t working with someone. Everyone can get on board with more honesty.
Rachel: "I certainly talked to people online that were absolutely not willing to meet in person or sit down for a drink, and that wasn’t aligning for me. Of course, I respected that, but I also knew that wasn’t for me. In my head at the time I didn’t want to wait to meet and connect with people. Candidly, I need to align with people that want to continue to live their lives the best way the can. However, it was still important for me to know if people were healthy before meeting them."
Bruce: "I didn’t have many experiences with people not wanting to meet in person. It all boils down to having a conversation and saying, are you cool with this? You have to find out what people are comfortable with. Don’t want to go to a restaurant? Let’s go for a walk. If you’re on opposite sides of the spectrum as someone saying let’s go out, and they’re a hobbit who prefers staying home, it’s not going to work.
I will say I do appreciate what dating apps are trying to do to make people comfortable. An app I use would pop-up a suggestion to have a video call with someone if you sent several messages with them. Some also have features asking if you want to schedule a virtual date. I appreciate how online dating pivoted quickly, and creatively. E-Harmony and Match both built a video plug in and where you can click to call someone. Is it what I would do? Maybe not, but part of dating is being open and understanding."
Maggie: "I feel differently about the virus and being on dating apps with other people. You can’t be sure how careful people are being, and I still want to be able to see my friends and my family. If you’re on an app, you’re likely bouncing around, meeting lots of people, and might not be as careful. Because of this I put a pause on dating all together. Hopefully I could still meet someone organically through friends or at an event, but we’ll see."
At the end of the day, humans are wired for connections to one another. That’s why dating apps have seen unprecedented surges this year. For example, networking and dating app Bumble saw a 26% increase in messages sent and a 56% increase in video calls in March. One survey found a 63% jump in people who said they were interested in video calling for a date during the quarantine versus before.
However, now that some time has passed, the same survey found far more people, 80% of respondents, were open to meeting in person in May than back in March. If you’re being safe, open, and smart, pandemic dating can bring new adventures and frontiers to finding your special person.
Here at BWBacon Group, we know and live what you are experiencing as an employer or job seeker in Denver, Boulder, Dallas, San Francisco, New York City or any of the other cities we work in. We believe great recruiting starts and ends with understanding people.
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