Rachel Goldman, PhD FTOS, is a licensed psychologist, clinical assistant professor, speaker, wellness expert specializing in eating behaviors, stress management, and health behavior change.
While the pandemic has upended our dating lives, there are ways to date virtually and to meet in person safely. It’s still possible to find love, so don’t give up. Here’s what you need to know to help you navigate the dating world during the COVID-19 pandemic.
How Dating Has Changed During COVID
Dating on apps was never trouble-free, but it became much more difficult during the pandemic. Finally getting to meet someone often took weeks or months. Postponement and delays have affected people’s quest to find love.
During a year of unparalleled problems due to a global pandemic, terrible natural disasters, and a contentious U.S. election, the effect on singles was noteworthy.
Dating With More Caution
The Match Group, which owns dozens of dating apps including Tinder, OkCupid, and Hinge, did a comprehensive study of singles across the US. It showed that the way people were dating was markedly different than in the past.
Data showed people were being more selective and intentional about choosing who to contact and going more slowly in the dating process. The study also found that singles were more upfront in openly addressing serious topics as well.
According to Helen Fisher, PhD, biological anthropologist and chief scientific advisor to Match, people are seeking greater transparency on dates and meaningful relationships instead of casual dating. This shift is largely due to many of the recent turbulent events in the news.
Positive Side of Dating Now
This new approach to dating is good for all. Although changes resulting from the pandemic altered the usual ways dating charmdate that people date, it’s important to look at the positives. Due to the pandemic, many people now have a fresh way to engage that’s more authentic.
Alexandra Stockwell, MD, relationship and intimacy expert and host of The Marriage Podcast, suggests, “Prior to Covid, most dating began as superficial, appearance-oriented interactions. It was easy to sidestep meaningful communication and the cultivation of emotional intimacy as fun activities and sensual experiences provided distraction from doing so.”
What About Sex?
If you believe people are having fewer sexual relationships these days, you’re right. The Match report shows 71% of singles said they didn’t have sex with anyone during the pandemic.
Tina B. Tessina, PhD, psychotherapist and author (also known as Dr. Romance) sees the silver lining in dating now, especially as it relates to sex.
Tessina says, “In my opinion, anything that delays couples from having sex is probably beneficial. It slows down the excitement factor, and gives couples a chance to develop what I call the ‘infrastructure’ of their relationship: the pathways to communicating about their hopes and desires; how to make plans together, and how to solve problems together.”
Tessina reminds singles to think about which dates are prioritizing your health. Those who follow safety guidelines show emotional maturity, indicating a person who will be considerate toward you in other ways down the road.
Limited by the pandemic, many people turned to dating primarily via Zoom calls and texts. What many people found, however, is that this gets stale quickly.
Answering the same questions on a first date about where you grew up, if you like your work or what you do for fun grows tiresome. This is especially when many still cope with COVID anxiety and increased stress in general.
So, how else can you get to know your potential romantic partner? Stockwell suggests “focusing on listening attentively and sharing more vulnerably. One of the best ways to do this is to cultivate curiosity-ask open-ended questions which don’t have a right or wrong answer.”