Roses are Red, COVID is Blue: A Look at Pandemic Dating

February 2021
Written By: 
Ashley Daniels
Photographs by: 
Grand Strand Magazine Staff

A Valentine’s Day view on how singles are dating during the pandemic

I have my Valentine—and he has my heart—but for those who don’t, where do you start? How do you seek, find and social distance in the dating world nowadays? 

With Valentine’s Day around the corner, we thought we’d scope out the view from singles and how their love lives have changed during COVID. The results from my research left me counting my blessings for my beloved husband. But it’s not without hope for those seeking their forever-after.

Online dating has surged, of course, since the norm of meeting a special someone in person has practically vanished… and the pandemic has kept going. For example, in March, Luxy Partners, a dating app for rich singles who want to mingle, reported that, while 87% of senior members were planning to date post-pandemic, by June, only 43% wanted to wait. What can stop love, after all? Match saw a 40% increase in user activity in summer 2020; July, in fact, was busier than Valentine’s Day, the normal climax. And virtual dates, on the app OkCupid, spiked by 700%.

But aside from the stats, what is it really like in the dating trenches?

Comfort and Joy

Social interaction is a human need—both physically and mentally—but now, more than ever, safety precautions need to be taken during COVID-19. Surveys are swirling out there that confirm those on the dating scene are taking it seriously. More than half of singles say they won’t go on a second date if their potential partner refuses to wear a mask; more than 20 percent say they’re pickier about who they decide to meet in person. Health experts advise that singles talk about where each stand before an in-person date: ask about their daily routines, what they do for work, and whether they’re seeing a lot of other people. It’s also important to consider where you’re comfortable meeting, whether it’s indoors or out, based on the number of cases in your area. Some, reports find, are willing to take a risk for the reward; others are not. It depends on the level of, well, interaction you’re looking for. 

The Suffering

The anxiety of dating is high enough as it is;  then, throw a pandemic in the mix to block human contact, and the bar is raised. Twentysomethings are worried that the healthy dating pool is evaporating, as well as the opportunities to meet anyone and socialize—even on college campuses.

Dating takes a little more work and a little more time when you’re getting to know someone from an impersonal app profile. Difficult periods of time throughout history, such as the Great Depression and World War II, when our “normal” lives have been disrupted by disease, death, and financial and emotional instability, have resulted in a drastic decline in marriages. COVID-19 may amplify this same spiraling as well. 

The Benefits

Yes, there is an optimistic angle to all of the chaos and we’re taking anything we can get. For one, the “noise” of everyone’s once-busy lives has been muffled with the peace of less distractions, which has led to deeper conversations for couples. That’s conversations (not texts) via phone or video that are more meaningful than before. 

And, after getting to know one another before meeting in person, couples are finding themselves on dates that are more “old fashioned,” like a stroll in the park, a bike ride, a hike—maybe a car ride with the windows rolled down. Not at a bar, where the setting could become more superficial.

Virtual dating via FaceTime, Zoom or Skype are slowing down the pace of dating, so couples are really getting to know one another and testing out their companionship. And that’s a good thing.