Dating can be tough enough when you're not limited to the confines of your home — save for the occasional masked grocery run or morning jog — but during the months since the global pandemic hit, many people have found themselves redefining the relationships in their life in ways they couldn't have expected. While some couples ended due to the emotional toll that subsequent stresses put upon them, others bloomed, actually finding love during quarantine in spite of the unique challenges it presented.
The limitation of socializing seems to have had differing effects on singles in quarantine. For some, fears about getting sick — or getting a partner sick — plus the prospect of having to date from a distance made them choose to take a break from dating altogether and refocus on themselves, their career, or other solitary endeavors. For others, the isolation aspect made them crave companionship more than ever, as well as magnify the idea that life is short and should therefore be filled with as much joy (and love) as possible.
For singles in the latter category, this meant logging into dating apps or being open to set-ups even if it meant navigating romance in a totally new and often challenging way. And for some of these individuals, that openness paid off: Ahead, learn about four couples who not only met, but fell in love during quarantine — including how they got past their initial reservations, how they kept themselves and others safe, and what makes this relationship different than any they've had before.
I Fell In Love While In Quarantine: Maddie & Dani
For Maddie, a licensed esthetician based in Indianapolis, boredom was the catalyst for what ended up being a bonafide romance. "I re-downloaded Hinge for the billionth time after deleting it for some mindless flirting and [Dani] was the first person to pop up," she tells TZR. "None of it was mindless from there."
Finding someone she had a deep connection with wasn't the only thing different about this attempt at online dating: According to Maddie, this was also the first lengthy exchange she'd had with another woman. (In fact, she had only opened up to friends about being bisexual last year.) However, Dani, who works as an oncology pharmacist, possessed all the qualities she was looking for in a partner, even if unexpectedly.
After matching on Hinge, Maddie and Dani waited about a week to meet in person. Because salons were closed, Maddie was able to keep her exposure risk low, only leaving her home for essential errands. Though having a break from work allowed her to feel more comfortable to spend time with Dani in person, the stress of it proved a test to the relationship. "I was not able to work for a long period of time, while Dani was still working," she explains. "It was a very difficult time for me mentally, and a challenging time with respect to how new the relationship was."
Thankfully, Dani rose to the occasion and became a support system, which strengthened the couple's bond. Now, they're living under the same roof and have found themselves in a relationship unique to all others Maddie had previously. "It’s like the me I always was, but better," she says. "Previously I feel that I had to bend my personally or needs to fit the person I was with. I’m allowed to be 100% myself, and she totally digs it. And vice versa."
I Fell In Love While In Quarantine: Alicia & Norman
Alicia, a hair and makeup artist, and Norman, an attorney, were first introduced through a mutual friend, and met over social media. Though the two Florida residents lived only about 30 minutes apart, the pandemic meant getting to know each other first over phone and video chats.
Luckily, getting to know each other from a distance ended up being a benefit to their budding relationship. "We liked that we got to learn how to communicate better and got to learn about each other, which made us develop a soul relationship pretty quickly," Alicia shares. "We both just were very open to see where things will go without any apprehension."
Before meeting, Alicia and Norman quarantined separately, and then waited for negative test results as a safety precaution. However, a turning point in the relationship came when Alicia test positive for COVID. Though she admits that going through sickness was a challenge, ultimately Norman proved himself to be a supportive partner — so much so that the two have since gotten engaged with plans to marry on Valentine's Day of next year.
I Fell In Love While In Quarantine: Kelly & Jerrit
Kelly, a Miami-based digital marketing strategist had actually matched with Jerrit, an electrician and musician, back in March, when she was still living in Frederick, Maryland. The two virtually connected briefly just before lockdown, but they were unable to meet in person before Kelly left town.
At the time, she was having fun making casual connections online, and had no expectations. "I was already in the full swing of dating, exploring matches via dating apps," she says. "When quarantine hit, the swiping game was no different. In fact, it might've been elevated, because it was one of the only forms of outside communication. The purpose of a dating app is to make a human connection, and I think a lot of people, myself included, needed that during quarantine."
However, being in a new city with limited social interaction, she soon realized her desire to form sincere relationships, and she found herself longing to get closer with Jerrit in particular. "Over months, I faced a heavy, longing heart, because I didn't know when I'd be able to see him," she explains. "That ache led itself to a new anxiety regarding physicality. Was he going to look like his pictures? Was I going to be attracted to him? If not, was this emotional connection enough? Would it be as easy to get along face to face?"
Eventually, Kelly and Jerrit met up in mid-August, and their in-person connection only solidified what she'd been feeling from the time they'd first matched. To keep themselves and other protected, they went on romantic dates outdoors, kept physical distance from others, wore masks, and made sure they had both gone at least two weeks without any symptoms.
Though she admits it was initially strange to fall for someone online, Kelly says she's ultimately glad she was so open to the experience. "I didn't have to worry about the physicality of dating for months, which is normally the first consideration of going out with someone," she says. "Virtual dating was more concentrated on their humor, communication skills, consistency, and empathy. I discovered how patient, kind, and romantic Jerrit is. We built a real friendship before committing to a relationship, and we didn't rush into anything. I don't think that would've been possible without quarantine forcing us to focus on what truly matters for a healthy, long-term partnership."
And it seems that Kelly and Jerrit's biggest challenge — having patience — paid off: He's moving to Miami to be closer to her in the spring. "Being on dating apps during all this uncertainty was like a scavenger hunt," Kelly says. "You wanted to find someone who was going to help you get through this pandemic. If they could do that, maybe they were worth keeping around. Maybe they were worth waiting for, and he definitely was."
I Fell In Love While In Quarantine: Susan & Tina
It seemed like fate that Susan, a speech pathologist, and silver hair model (pro-aging advocate) from Spokane, and Tina, a retired veteran from Missoula would end up in each other's lives. The two first connected on a dating app back in February, and although they never ended up getting together, Susan remembers asking the universe to throw Tina back into her path when the time was right.
Apparently the right time was a few months later when Tina was in Spokane and they both attended a socially distant drag show. After some flirting, Susan went home and logged onto the app, hoping they'd reconnect there. "Although I had given her my card, I wanted to make sure she knew I was interested," Susan tells TZR.
She had initially pursued online dating after a breakup and was looking to meet new friends, but when she first noticed Tina, Susan wasn't quite ready to come out. As for Tina, she had her own reservations about starting a relationship: Giving up her single life. That said, her perspective changed after getting sick with COVID in March. "During those days I realized that I missed having a partner," Tina says. "I never wanted a relationship and was dating a lot of women prior to COVID. I felt like I wanted to be — and needed to be — more intentional and careful with my dating; however, I still didn't really want to be in a committed long-term relationship." Upon meeting and connecting with Susan (they shared a romantic first kiss in the park during a Black Lives Matter protest) she had a change of heart, and it wasn't long before the two decided to be exclusive.
As for dating during COVID, Susan explained that the two limited their social circle, and opted for a lot of outdoor dates, including biking, hiking, rafting, and tubing. They also got tested regularly, and weren't afraid to have frank discussions about safety and exposure. And while there have certainly been more limitations than either was used to in past relationships, both Susan and Tina are grateful they decided to pursue one another. Susan, who had only recently come out at 50, loved that she never felt in competition with Tina, and admired her compassion (she devotes her time to the Wounded Warrior Project among other disabled veteran support groups). And Tina says that she loves the fact that they switch off traditional masculine/feminine roles, but are equally passionate and tender.
Now the two are nearly six months into their relationship and have a few words of wisdom for anyone looking to date during this challenging time. "I always tell people to not waste time with texting — go straight to video chat," Susan says. "So much can be lost in translation via text [and so] much can be observed via video." And if you do want to meet up, she suggests doing so responsibly (masked) until you're safely able to enjoy the magic of your first kiss — without a risk to yourselves or others.