Finding love can be challenging during the best of circumstances. Imagine trying to do it in a pandemic.
“It’s definitely gone a lot slower than it has in the before times,” says 28-year-old Sara Estan, who has been looking for love with the help of dating apps. “But it’s been a pretty interesting experience so far.”
Estan says it’s been a nice change of pace and she’s feeling less pressured to jump right into things.
“Spontaneity is fantastic but It’s really not practical right now,” says Estan. “I take care of my grandmother, so precautions are just exceptionally high for me, so it’s definitely a very careful and considerate process.”
Estan's current love interest is a frontline health care worker. They haven’t met in person.
“We’ve been talking for about two and a half months now…. we’ll stream and watch the same show or we’ll play a video game together, in addition to snapchat texting, phone calls,” she says.
Estan did have an in-person coffee date last year with someone else.
“We both did the drive-thru and then just sort of hung out in our cars parked next to each other and talked for a little bit,” she says. “That ironically, even though it didn’t end up working out, was one of the best first dates I’ve had in a really long time which I absolutely did not expect to happen that way.”
Coronavirus and Love
Being alone and working remotely has made some singles more determined than ever to find a match.
”They’ve really come to a point where they are thinking I would really like to meet someone that I can have a solid relationship with,” says Suzanne MacDowell of Boston’s Susie Q Matchmaking.
“Initially they are doing very much like what we are doing right now in a virtual conversation. And getting to know each other that way,” says MacDowell, who likens this to old-fashioned dating.
“It’s kind of nice because it’s taken a step back and people really escalating in relationships and taking more time to really think through. Is this the right person for me? And would I like to get to know that person better?”
“If people have been on the fence about trying a dating app, now is a great time to try one,” says Kristen Berry, Director of Communications for eHarmony. “The pandemic has changed and impacted so many aspects of our lives, but something we’ve been happy to see is it hasn’t changed our need for making real human connections.”
Berry says messages between members are up 27-percent since stay-at-home orders were first implemented and says that’s a sign that people are still meeting one another and connecting.
The Bumble social network has seen a rise in what it calls “slow dating,” where people take the time to get to know each other before deciding to meet in person.
“We do have a space in the app where you can select what kind of COVID dating you are comfortable with,” says Clare O’Connor, Head of Editorial Content at Bumble. “So whether it’s distanced with a mask or online only for now, you can make that selection so when folks are swiping in the app, and looking to match they know right away what you’re all about.”
Bumble expanded its distance filters so users can connect with anyone in the country and users are taking advantage of in-app video chat and call features.
“We’ve been really heartened to see the enthusiasm with which folks are really trying to make digital dating work for them,” says O’Connor.
Skiing or snowman building dates are popular right now, but there are also exciting virtual options.
Like the Bumble-approved Airbnb Online Experience offerings. You and your date can go on a leopard safari in Sri Lanka, take a dance lesson in Spain or whip up tequila drinks with a Mexican mixologist.
“I do think some of these virtual dates can take the pressure off a little bit. If you’re taking a chocolate making lesson with some artisans in France, you don’t have to worry about making sparkling conversation the entire time,” says O’Connor.
“My biggest piece of advice and something that I’ve been benefitted from is just being straightforward and honest about your needs your beliefs and what you’re looking for in a person,” says Estan.
“I am a bit of a hopeless romantic and I am hoping that one day it turns into this lovely story that I tell people but I really have to make sure to remind myself to be grounded and take it a day at a time.”
You should do some research before signing up with a dating or match making service to make sure it is reputable and a good fit for what you’re looking for. Compare pricing and services to find something that fits your budget. Many sites and services offer a free trial before you commit.
And be wary of those romance scams. Watch out for people who insist on leaving the dating site to communicate via text or email and any romantic interest who asks you to wire them money for any reason.