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Dating Has Changed During the Pandemic — Here Are the New Rules


As a woman who has been single for many years, I can honestly say dating is hard work. Sometimes it is fun, sometimes it is downright maddening. But it always requires effort, commitment, and quite frankly, a good deal of courage. Now we have added a pandemic, with stay-at-home orders and fear of contracting COVID-19 in the mix, the dating game has changed tremendously. There are new challenges and obstacles for us singles of the world, but that isn’t stopping us now is it?

Jess McCann, dating and relationship coach and author of Cursed? ($12.95, Amazon) says the most obvious difference in dating since the pandemic began is that singles are exhibiting more patience and spending more time getting to know their dates before meeting in person. “Most of my clients are hosting at least 2-3 virtual dates on Facetime before taking the step/risk to meet in-person,” she says. While the thought of talking more before a live date created anxiety in many of her clients, she points out that most have really honed their conversational skills and are now able to assess their dates with far more clarity.

The pressure is on for singles to be more creative and open-minded, but it has not put an end to their search for true love. “Singles who really want to be in a relationship are finding a way to carry on despite the challenges of life with COVID.”

After talking about this with as many people as I could, I’ve concluded that though many things are different, much remains the same. From ghosting, mismatches, and unwanted advances to stories from those happily dating and married couples that are a little too sweet, the usual themes repeat themselves. They are just spiced up with the use of Zoom and other technology. Here are some tips for singles by singles based on their own experiences with dating during a pandemic:

Date Online (Literally)

“I have absolutely loved the creativity behind dating right now. An initial Zoom call versus a date — a quick 30 minutes has saved so much time! Also, if they won’t Zoom or wear a mask, I have opted not to date them. Zoom calls with a Venmo from them beforehand so we can have a virtual dinner together. Gifts sent to me via my Amazon wish list. Isolating together, deep talks, and cuddles.”–Diane, 44, Carson City, NV

I would like to know where Diane is meeting these matches so I can chip away at my own Amazon wishlist— excuse me, I mean meet a nice, thoughtful man. She has really reaped the benefits of dating during a pandemic by taking advantage of all that technology has to offer. 

Be Selective

“I met him online and agreed to an in-person date just shortly after restaurants re-opened, but in the days leading up to the date, it was revealed that we weren’t the best match. There was just something off about this guy and I couldn’t bring myself to go through with the date. Normally, the risk-factor of meeting a match is low (what’s the worst that can happen?), but with COVID-19, I am definitely more selective. I went ahead and cancelled on him and then implemented the slow fade. The pandemic has made me much more selective of whom I will meet and I am not at all ashamed of that.” – Lisa, 26, Fitchburg, MA

Do not hesitate to take your time getting to know a match before meeting in person and if you know it’s not a good fit, go ahead and cancel. Just be honest and try not to do it last minute.

Get Tested Together

“For five years, me and Dan had a mutual attraction to each other, but for a myriad of reasons we stayed away — we worked in the same industry and we both had long-term partners. Once the pandemic hit, all morals, job restrictions, and significant others faded away so we decided to go for a socially distant walk that I can only describe as equal parts terrifying and romantic. We wanted to kiss so badly or even just hug, but we knew we couldn’t, despite intense isolation. We decided to get tested for the coronavirus together so we could finally explore a physical relationship.” Leah, 31, New York, NY

Getting tested together is a great way to ease your minds and protect your health before entering a physical relationship; you can even turn into it a socially-distant date. If nothing else, it makes for a great story!

Don’t Pucker Up, Buttercup

“I planned a date with a guy I met on Bumble. We hit it off over text and spoke on the phone a few times, so when he asked me to meet up at a local restaurant I was not at all hesitant. We had a nice dinner and great conversation, but there was simply no attraction on my end. I knew within minutes that we were not a romantic match.  When it came time to say goodbye, I offered a hug, but he went in for a kiss— on the lips! I have to say I was shocked in general, but also felt like how dare you? Have you heard of COVID-19? Suddenly the risk of exposing myself to the virus seemed far greater than I was prepared for.  I hadn’t anticipated he would make a move and it really made me rethink my comfort level with dating in-person during a pandemic.” – Claire, 34 Bloomfield, CT

It is wise to discuss your expectations about physical contact before a first date. And if he isn’t comfortable with your requests, then by all means, cancel.

As with everything in life (pandemic or no pandemic), if you look hard enough, you find a silver lining. McCann says that in the world of dating, she has noticed her clients have become a lot more appreciative and open-minded over the past few months, “ Instead of callously swiping left on someone, as if their options were endless, they are more likely to pause and consider giving someone a date who might have previously fallen outside a superficial requirement like neighborhood or height,” she says. “Many who found app dating to be excruciating or tiring seem to have a renewed energy, and I believe it’s because they know that without the technology, there would be little hope for a relationship right now.”

Wouldn’t it be great if this silver lining outlasted the pandemic altogether? Now if you excuse me, I have some swiping of my own to do.

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