Dating in the era of coronavirus: How lockdown, tiers and social distancing have changed dating:
As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, social distancing has become the new normal. Not to mention months of lockdown, the impact of a new tier system and now the second wave of coronavirus resulting in a new national lockdown (or circuit breaker / fire-break for some). But what does this mean for love? How does social distancing, tiers and lockdown affect online dating? What are the pros and cons of online dating during coronavirus?
Social distancing forces people to invent new ways to search for and maintain relationships. While some lovers are finding it difficult to meet due to restrictions in their tiers or lockdown, some couples are having to get married with their family and friends watching online. How can singles looking for love, or lovers living apart, meet and date? And how does the coronavirus crisis affect single mums and single dads dating?
Protective COVID-19 measures may physically separate us, but this doesn’t mean that we should give up on love. The pandemic may have forced us to find new ways to meet and date, so why not embrace change, and make the most of the new normal whilst staying safe?
The benefits of online dating during COVID-19
Technology has opened up a lot of new opportunities for us all. With the Internet’s help, you can find dates quickly and easily, or just communicate and have fun with new people from anywhere around the world. And there are so many advantages to online dating:
- It’s convenient: Users can set selection criteria in order to find a match, so you don’t have to sort through countless potentially unsuitable dates, let alone meet a stranger just to find out he or she is not at all what you were looking for. This is particularly important when you are a single mum or dad dating and you do not want to waste time and money on babysitters.
- It’s safe: Meeting other singles, even when it’s in a public place and social distancing, bears some risks during a pandemic. Online dating is safe: You can meet singles from the convenience of your own home which at present is the safest way to meet and find out if a person is right for you. With instant messaging technology, your potential soulmate is only ever a click away, if you want to wait and find out more.
- It’s easy: Dating sites and apps are usually very user-friendly as they were designed for all ages and technical abilities. Platforms are usually concise and easy to use, so you don’t need to be a whizz kid to use them.
- It’s cheap: Many dating sites are free, at least the basic membership, and this feature attracts a lot of users.
- It’s quick: Most singles will agree that it’s much easier to go online and search for a date than to go to a social event and just hope you run into your perfect match. Even busy professionals and stressed out single parents can fit online dating into their schedule.
- It’s specific: If you have a special interest or orientation, you can sign up to a niche site, such as a dating site for single parents, one for tall people or one for dog lovers: There is something out there for almost everyone.
- It suits different personalities: Online communication allows even the most introverted person to feel less nervous and inhibited and maintain some distance until they feel confident to meet in person. And if you are picky, you are also in the right place, as the dating sites’ algorithms help find dates most suitable for you so you are not wasting your time. You can even block any unwanted admirers.
You might wonder where to start if you are new to online dating. Browsing a few free sites to see if there is someone you like, is as good an introduction as any. The rest is easy: A super simple registration process, and off you go. You can stay anonymous if you’re just browsing or create a 5-star dating profile, complete with photo – the choice is yours. Most sites will match you up with compatible options based on your profile and interests, so it’s worth giving as much information about your personality and interests as possible. To get more information about a possible match before meeting up in person, you should consider using video chat or instant messages.
If you spend a lot of time on your phone, you might prefer a dating app, which can be used on your PC as well as your mobile phone. Try sending a virtual gift to attract someone’s attention. Or, if you are shy, an old-fashioned “hello” works just as well!
How to navigate meeting your date during Covid
Modern society is dynamic and adaptable, even during the coronavirus pandemic. For many people, the switchover to working from home has been stressful and provided even less time for romance. It would be easy for dating to take a back seat during this time, especially if you are a single mum or dad, but, for many, online dating has become a sweet escape from reality.
So, what should you do if you are single or a single parent dating during Covid? Well, for one, you should stick to the social distancing guidelines in your area. You can try to go on a date in the park, not the pub or an equally crowded place. An outdoor pursuit, such as a walk or a picnic or a fun activity, such as roller skating are also great ideas as they can create a more relaxed atmosphere than a serious tête-à-tête indoors does, where you are watching each other’s every move. So, here is where during Covid can be fun.
Aside from being sensible and observing social distancing, singles in the UK now also must adhere to the new local restrictions. So, what does lockdown and the regional lockdown tiers, which come back into force on December 2nd, mean for dating and fledgling relationships? Let’s find out:
What does national lockdown mean for dating?
With lockdown imminent in England and already in force in Wales, singles in the UK might feel that their love life has to be put on hold yet again. However, the national lockdown starting on 5 November (in England) is not as strict as the first and lets us enjoy a little bit more freedom. There are fewer blanket restrictions in place and it’s more like a fourth tier according to Dominic Raab. For example, you are now are now allowed to meet one person outside for “recreation” as well as exercise. This means you could meet new dates for a walk in the park, a hike or a bike ride, for example. Find out what interests you have in common and get creative! Naturally, social distancing rules continue to apply.
Whilst pubs, restaurants and entertainment venues are closed, and meeting indoors is prohibited, you do have the option to form an exclusive support bubble for the duration of lockdown if you want to take things further. So, things are not as grim for singles dating once you think about it.
What do tier 3 lockdown restrictions mean for dating?
With the national lockdown ending on 2 December, the country will revert back to a tier system. For those who will be living in a tier 3 area, indoor dates may be out of the question, however, singles can still go on social distancing dates outdoors, such as the park, countryside, public garden, beach, etc. Most bars and pubs must close but, one way or another, meeting in a bar, or other public indoor or outdoor setting is not allowed. This includes private gardens.
If you are in a relationship but live apart or have recently started dating someone, you could form a support bubble with your partner/date providing at least one of you is single living alone or a single mum or dad living alone with kids under 18 and providing neither of you is in a support bubble with another household. In that case you can meet indoors, and social distancing rules do not apply. It’s important to bear in mind that you cannot change your support bubble and that it should be with someone living locally where possible. Children of single parent families can move between two parents living apart, even if the other household does not form part of your support bubble.
What do tier 2 lockdown restrictions mean for dating?
Rules for tier 2 are similar to those in tier 3, i.e. no indoor dates, staying overnight or sex unless you are in a support bubble.
However, you can meet a date anywhere outdoors, including a private garden or a hospitality setting, such as a bar or a restaurant as long as you observe social distancing rules.
What do tier 1 restrictions mean for dating?
Once lockdown ends and we revert back to the tier system, those singles living in tier 1 can breathe a sigh of relief. The rule of 6 indoors or outdoors applies as before lockdown. Social distancing has to be maintained unless you live together, are in a support bubble or an “established relationship” – the only exception to social distancing.
The pitfalls of online dating
Despite the many advantages of online dating, there are a few downsides to note:
- For one, you don’t always know if someone is who they say they are based on their profile or even profile picture. People and cameras can lie!
- You could spend a long time talking to someone who never commits to an in-person date
- To get the best results, you also need to put in the work. Be thorough when filling in your profile. The matching algorithms are smart, but they can only go by the information you provide.
- Watch out for catfishing. Unfortunately, we can’t always know who is on the other side of the screen, and (though rare) there are fraudsters out there.
Communicating on the Internet has so many perks, but it still pays to be cautious. It’s not always obvious when someone is embellishing their stories or posting pictures that are several years out of date. Also, you can’t always be sure that people are who they say they are online. Always tell a friend where you’re going or meet in a public place when meeting someone you’ve only spoken with online.
Another downside of online dating is that it is not the same as meeting face to face. We can build a false picture of someone in our mind, just to find out that when we meet them in person, the connection we have built up, is no longer there or maybe wasn’t real.Online dating has long become a normal part of modern life. Many friends have a story to tell – sometimes fun, sometimes embarrassing and sometimes heart-warming. Some anecdotes are hilarious, others cringeworthy, yet others are about meeting and marrying a soulmate. If the coronavirus pandemic has taught us one thing, then it is the importance of social interaction. And since it is no longer possible to look for love in crowded places, online dating is the modern way to meet and date for the foreseeable future.
Have you tried online dating, or are you going to try? Tell us your story in the comments.
Here are some more articles from Single Parents on Holiday that might interest you:
- Our Top Single Parent Dating Tips
- Tips for Dating as a Single Mum
- Our Single Parent Dating Guide
- Where to Meet Single Parents for Dating