It’s no surprise that one of the most searched Google terms last year was “how to date during the pandemic.” While dating apps are accessible now more than ever, singles across the nation have found creating a new or even fostering an existing connection to be no easy feat. Now, a year since lockdown, research proves the COVID-19 crisis took a toll on relationships, along with everything else. A study conducted by Relish, a relationship coaching company, found that 68% of partnerships were cut short due to the pandemic, 15% of people are having less sex since March 2020, and women who are single mothers have been most affected when it comes to dating and relationships.
Even before the pandemic, 74% of singles found it very/somewhat difficult to find a partner to date. The added barriers of meeting in person, health and safety factors, and tech burnout has made it increasingly more difficult to date. “2020 certainly proved to be an unusual year for those who were dating," shares Atara Raab, MA, LMFT at Sesh, who explains the impact hasn't been totally negative. "Due to the restrictions imposed by the pandemic, more and more people are turning to technology and dating apps in order to meet others. Furthermore, the dating apps have themselves evolved by adding new features such as phone and video conferencing, which can be accessed directly via the dating platforms. Many of my private clients and group members are reporting that the dating experience has become less superficial and that they are getting to know each other on a deeper level."
Ahead, five singles reveal how the past year changed their dating life for the better and, at times, for the worse.
How The Pandemic Changed My Dating Life: Navigating Apps
“Before 2020, I enjoyed meeting potential partners organically at bars, events, and the gym," says Candice* (she/her). "When the pandemic started in 2020, I no longer had that luxury of meeting new people face to face. I adjusted by getting on dating apps like Raya and The Lox Club. To be honest, it’s been boring to message someone on an app and then have a FaceTime date. It’s really not my preference, but I’ve continued to be patient and just go with the flow. I know that many people are finding love during this time, and I hope that one day I do too!”
How The Pandemic Changed My Dating Life: Knowing Yourself Better
“A year ago, dating in a major city was fast and loose," says Andile* (she/her). U"sing only dating apps and friends’ socially distant introductions, 2020 became the year I dated myself for the first time. Now armed with this new skill of introspection and a full realization of self-worth, the future has to be about starting from the ground up — taking the time to deeply understand someone and build with intention. It used to be there was someone two seconds away, ready for whatever. I’m not settling for that. I’m not settling at all.”
How The Pandemic Changed My Dating Life: Deeper Connections
“Dating for me has always been incredibly difficult, (especially in Los Angeles), and 2020 was no different — except this time I just got to blame a global pandemic," says Jason* (he/him). "But I will say that the blessing of being mandated to stay at home and not meet up with people really forced conversation and getting to know potential partners in a deeper way than just for a quick hookup.”
How The Pandemic Changed My Dating Life: Getting Back In The Game
“I recently became single at the end of 2019 after being in a relationship for over five years," explains an anonymous source who identifies as she/her. "I hadn’t been single for most of my twenties, so I was excited to begin dating. When the lockdown occurred at the beginning of 2020, I put little effort into dating but shortly realized that if I wanted to put myself out there I would have to experiment with dating virtually. FaceTime and socially distanced dates have been my experience and oddly enough, I really enjoy them! I feel like I’ve gotten to know guys a lot better before actually meeting them in person, which has created a much more comfortable atmosphere when we are able to finally meet up. I’m excited to see how dating will continue to evolve and be a part of these new experiences!”
How The Pandemic Changed My Dating Life: Effort Required
“The ick factor is always there when putting yourself on dating apps, but COVID has made it so much worse," says Zoë (she/her). "Restaurants, clubs, or any scene where you could traditionally throw down a few drinks, release inhibitions, and get to know someone have completely changed their landscape. I will say creativity has kicked in, and when someone really comes up with an ingenious, Covid-happy date, it really makes an impression.”
How The Pandemic Changed My Dating Life: Priority Shift
"I think more important than the difficulty of dating in 2020 is the shifting of priorities," says an anonymous source who identifies as he/him. "Hook-ups, fleeting relationships, and just endless 'talking stages' have generally been less desired during COVID, in favor of deeper, or at least ostensibly, more serious relationships. I will concede, however, that it has become more difficult to maintain relationships during a pandemic. With little to nowhere to go for a date, you're forced to become creative in ways to hang out or get to know each other, such as car dates or a picnic. Long-distance relationships have been hit the hardest, as travel and border restrictions have made it all but impossible to see your significant other who lives far away. While extemporaneous 'meet-cutes' have been limited or the spontaneous coffee date with your significant other restricted, connecting with someone online and genuinely forming a bond has, at least to me, become the prevailing outcome of dating rather than something casual."
A common theme among the singles that shared their experiences from this past year in lockdown is the sentiment that deeper connections superseded superficial ones — and that includes with yourself. “As a matchmaker, I remind my private clients that it's important to date themselves while on their dating journey," shares Carmelia Ray, celebrity matchmaker and online dating expert. "Cultivating a relationship with yourself is essential to learning your likes, dislikes, values and goals. It's imperative to pamper yourself while dating in a pandemic, as singles face the added concern of managing their mental well-being. Practicing self-care and self-love allows you to connect with your inner goddess or king so you can show up powerfully confident in your own skin.”