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Dating during a pandemic

When asked whether they’ve tried dating during the pandemic, 53% of 200 respondents say yes while 47% say no. CNBC reported in May that dating apps have seen an increase in usage since the COVID-19 pandemic hit the United States in March. (Katana Urry)

Navigating the dating world can often be stressful, even when there’s not a pandemic. Forum reporter Katana Urry took to social media to understand how many are taking a stab at dating during a stressful time.

In Urry’s recent Instagram survey of approximately 200 people, 55% of responses said that they’re single during the pandemic and 65% said they are interested in dating. But the process of dating has changed drastically since social distancing has been implemented.

Changes in Dating

A May 2020 CNBC article, “Why the coronavirus might change dating forever,” stated dating apps were seeing an increase in usage during the pandemic.

“As states across the country began rolling out stay-at-home orders in March 2020, Bumble saw a 26% increase in the number of messages sent on its platform, a company spokesperson told CNBC,” said reporter MacKenzie Sigalos. “Tinder saw the length of conversations rise by 10-30%, and elite dating app Inner Circle saw messages rise 116% over that same time period.”

When asked whether they’re in a relationship, 45% of 200 respondents say yes while 55% say no. Survey participants said starting a relationship during a pandemic involves a lot of virtual dates and difficult social distancing decisions. 

Fifty-three percent of those surveyed by Urry said they attempted dating during the pandemic. Although more people may be trying dating apps, some said it has been frustrating.

“It’s difficult to find things to do that respect social distancing and are fun,” said survey participant Tabitha Low.

Another survey participant, local Salt Lake photographer McKenna Frandsen, shared her irritation with the digital nature of modern dating.

“Stupid dating apps and Facetime dates are necessary to weed [partners] out and social distance,” Frandsen said.

Some participants responded similarly, noting they had trouble keeping conversations going after matching on dating platforms.

Once on a date, others said managing safe boundaries was especially difficult when trying to start a romantic relationship with someone.

“It feels normal and comfortable to go on a date, but there’s guilt for risking yourself and others,” said local embroidery artist Madeline Cole. “It’s hard to take care in using precautions.” 

Marcus Ikegami said he and his dates took considerable precautions when meeting in person.

“I went on several dates with this girl from six feet apart,” he said. “Didn’t hug until like, the eighth date.”

Impact on Pre-Pandemic Relationships

While some people began looking for a relationship during the pandemic, others were already in one. The Instagram survey asked if people felt any changes to their relationships as a product of the pandemic.

One respondent, Ren Brian, said their relationship has thrived while social distancing with their significant other.

“Our friendship has grown!” Brian said. “Nothing is performative seeing someone all day every day.”

Others said their relationships have struggled under the strain of COVID-19.

Sophia Brockman — who has been with her current partner for over two years — was faced with a difficult choice that she said drastically altered the dynamic of her relationship.

“[We] chose to do long distance because of COVID and families,” Brockman said. “It’s been very hard.”

A May 2020 Psychology Today article, “Will the Pandemic Ruin Your Relationship?” outlined the effects the pandemic may have on couples. 

“When we’re threatened by events beyond our control, our relationships can be amazingly resilient,” said author Gary W. Lewandowski Jr. “A few negatives don’t mean a relationship is heading toward ruin. It’s not an all-or-nothing proposition. Relationships aren’t about perfection. Even in the best of times, rough patches are inevitable.”

Relationships Ignited During the Pandemic

Some people have been successful in finding a romantic partner during the ongoing pandemic. Some survey respondents said they found intimacy within their close circle of friendships that they might not have otherwise.

“I casually dated someone I knew from working in a restaurant,” said survey participant Jayda Robinson. “We figured we were already socially distancing with each other, so it was safe.”

Others said they’d also sparked flings with those they were already social distancing with, such as roommates.

Cameron Bennion answered the survey saying they navigated the trials and tribulations of first dates in the pandemic all the way to a successful relationship.

“I went on a date at the beginning of the pandemic,” Bennion said. “And we’ve been together ever since!”

Advice for Singles

Other responders said they felt loneliness was inevitable during the pandemic. They said guilt is a significant factor as they decide whether it’s safe to see people they care about outside of their own social distancing bubbles.

Survey participant Harper Graham said there shouldn’t be any pressure to find someone — especially right now. 

“Date yourself for a bit,” Graham said. “Try new stuff. It’s kinda nice.”

Grace Mason said those who are single in the pandemic should take the plunge, but be patient with the process.

“Take your time listening and getting to know people,” said Mason. “Be persistent.”

Madison Cole answered the survey and said virtual dates are a great option for meeting someone new and boundaries once you meet in person ought to be a priority.

“Be very open about your boundaries and comfort levels — communicate more than ever!” Cole said.


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Katana Urry is a junior communication major at Westminster College. She loves to play her blue guitar and is self-described as a sensible and sensitive punk rocker. The majority of Katana’s life experiences has been immersed in music and she hopes to pursue a career involving music in some way.

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