Love in the Time of COVID-19

 Coronavirus arrived through air and lungs in early 2020. Since then, we’ve cut out most nonessential interaction with strangers and loved ones. Even with loosened restrictions in Florida, many of us choose to stay home and social distance to protect ourselves, our friends and our families. Romance is resilient, though, through pain and pandemic. While we were stuck at home, alone with our thoughts or spending every waking moment with our domestic partners, most of our economy and social scene were on pause. This has forced single people to adapt. “Dating from home” could mean keeping your new girlfriend at text message distance or quarantining with your new boyfriend. Young folks in the dating scene shared with us their experiences getting to know potential partners in these weird times.

Z, SHE/HER, 20 I have been in two flings since mid-March. I met them both through social media. I love the physicality of relationships and that’s harder with the pandemic, but it teaches me patience and value. I have gone on dates, we went camping and walked on the beach and hung out in the car by the water. The dates are different now because there are limited things to do compared to pre-COVID-19 like going to the movies, ice skating, or eating out safely. This has made me appreciate the small things. I can’t wait for this to be over, I love dressing up and going on dinner dates.

J, HE/HIM, 22 I was quarantined by myself, but before the cases got higher I would hang with people more often. The people I hung out with didn’t worry about the restrictions. If we wanted to hang out we did. The difference between dating before covid and to dating after, I would say, is just making sure that the person you’re talking to doesn’t have it or anyone in their household.

K, THEY/THEM 21 I’ve been talking to this girl since the beginning of COVID-19, only hung out in real life twice but formed a super close bond already via internet communication. Otherwise I don’t chill with anyone and I’ve been self-isolating. I refuse to use dating apps and prefer more “organic” meetings, so most prospects are wiped out for the foreseeable future. Sort of a bummer.

G, HE/HIM, 23 COVID-19 forced a lot of would-be partners to spend a lot of quality time too soon due to things being closed, in turn it either made or broke the fl ing. Netfl ix and chill was the go-to thing, eating at my place or theirs and watching mov-ies. I did go on one date after the state re-opened, it was not much different.

C, HE/HIM, 23 There were a lot of girls that I talked to that we probably would have gotten along but COVID-19 prevented us from doing anything but texting so interest was lost. If we did hang it was at my apartment because there was nowhere else to go. I work at an essential business, but I feel I’ve stayed pretty safe. If I felt I had symptoms I would tell people and i never did, same for the people I was talking to.

P, SHE/HER, 22 I was in a relationship when quarantine started. We tried to quarantine together, but I think it was too early in the relationship for a commitment like that, so as anything forced prematurely it crumbled around us. I then went on a few social distanced dates, they blew. Jacksonville isn’t as fun right now.

M, HE/HIM, 23 I was in quarantine since the beginning of March. The last traditional date I had was in the beginning of March, other than that, I went on a walking date in mid-April. I would say, overwhelmingly, that quarantine and the pandemic has hindered those dates and flings. It was difficult to justify going on a date while people were dying from people not social distancing. And so it felt futile talking to somebody that I won’t meet for a while.

L, SHE/HER, 23 Quarantine hindered dating a little because I was hesitant to go on dates with people who were essential workers, since I work at home and am at-risk. One date I went on was outside at a park and he brought snacks and drinks instead of sitting in somewhere. We sat in close proximity but we weren’t all over each other. In another encounter, we went to a restaurant that had limited capacity and sat in an open area – it didn’t feel very different at all. We only went on a few real dates because we got paranoid with the increase in cases. Now we just meet at each other’s houses and order takeout or cook.

M, THEY/THEM, 19 The threat of getting sick helped re-evaluate the kinds of people I’m willing to break the rules for. With quarantine, my dating pool simultaneously expanded and shrunk. Everyone wants to get out, everyone feels a little braver, we all have a little more time to connect, plus the urge to connect is stronger, but the world is still on hold. I can’t even see past this year for myself, how could I add another person to that equation? That thought has held me back from dating, but the need for human interaction pushes me in the opposite direction. Dating on the phone was always an option, but human interaction is an important part of forming connections for me.