How do you meet and date during COVID – and is online dating the future?
It has been almost exactly one year since lockdown #1 began in the UK. We wouldn’t have believed it a year ago, in fact, we would have been horrified if anyone had told us that we would not be able to meet our our friends, family, or a date, indoors for the best part of a year. Not to mention that wearing masks and social distancing have become second nature for all of us, even the kids.
Those living alone have been hit hardest: Not just the elderly, but singles of all ages, including single parents, have had close to no social contact in person for months at a time. Bubbles may have kept those living alone sane but being able to meet up with one person or one family does by no means replace the social contact and adult conversations we all crave naturally. And what about those looking for love before lockdown? How do you continue dating during a pandemic?
Should I be dating during COVID?
Whilst some singles asked themselves whether they should be dating during a pandemic at all, others instantly turned to online dating when the crisis began: Dating apps, such as Tinder and Bumble reported a surge in activity in March 2020. But confusion over rules for singles and new couples not living together caused many to stop pursuing romance for the time being. Yet as we realised that the pandemic and social distancing rules won’t go away overnight, many singles adapted and found new ways to find romance – whether that is online or by meeting outdoors, socially distanced.
How to find a date during a pandemic
Naturally, online dating has seen a soar both in use and acceptance, and the latter is a good thing. After all, what would we do without the internet today? It enables us to see family and friends, and even go on a date. Technology really has opened up a whole new world, even for the older generation. Online dating sites offer a quick, cheap way of meeting other singles in a similar situation, of similar age, with similar interests, etc. Algorithms take the hard work off our hands and suggest potential matches, and wink, like, and chat functions allow us to decide on what level to engage with a potential date. And you are under no obligation to engage at all – if you are not interested, you just move on and continue looking for that special someone. It is an incredibly convenient way to meet new people, not just for singles without kids but also for single parents who would usually need a babysitter for their first face to face meeting.
How to meet up during COVID
Skype, face time, zoom and Google Meet, and other video software have enabled us to have first dates without meeting in person. Don’t sit at your work desk – set the scene, with the lights dimmed, a cosy chair and a glass of wine or your favourite tipple in hand!
Of course, video chats cannot completely replace meeting face to face meetings. Falling in love takes more than that for the majority of people. Thankfully, one to one meetings are now allowed again in England (and have been allowed in Scotland and Wales for a while), so you can meet your date for a coffee, a picnic, or a walk outdoors. With spring in the air, we are all desperate to get outside and experience the first sunny days, so what better way to meet up? This will be extended on 29 March, when meeting in private gardens and joining in organised sports together will be back on the cards in the whole of the UK. So, why not try a round of tennis or roller skating in your local park – it would certainly be an ice breaker, especially if you are both out of practice. Thankfully, with pubs and restaurants opening on 12 April in England (outdoors only) and 26 April in Scotland (outdoors and indoors), you can soon sit down and have a drink or a meal together – any variation is welcome after months of staying home!
If you really hit it off and want to take things further, you would have to form a support bubble if you are not in one already, and only if one of you lives alone. Otherwise, for those singles living in England and Scotland, meeting indoors is not allowed until 17 May (Wales has not set out a detailed roadmap out of lockdown at the time of writing). In dating, this is not a long time, and will give you the opportunity to really get to know each other and find new and creative ways to spend time together. Many of us have learnt to appreciate the outdoors, nature, and relationships a lot more since the beginnings of the pandemic, so you could pursue your new passions together – be it walking, hiking, cycling, or exploring local parks and woods with a picnic or a mug of steaming coffee in hand.
The future of dating
There is no doubt that technology will have a massive impact on the way we will meet and date in the future. Technology may speed up the way we meet and get to know each other, but it will also make us more selective – due to the market of potential dates and matches we find ourselves a part of. As a result of this, relationship experts predict that we will marry later in life but after a much shorter dating period. The pandemic has also changed our goals: In a Bumble survey, 46% said that they were after a serious relationship as a result of experiencing isolation during the pandemic.
COVID-19 has forced singles to find alternative ways to meet that special someone, both online and offline. Truth to be told, you may even find that this new way of dating suits you down to the ground. No more superficial meet ups in bars, but meaningful dates doing the things you enjoy. And, if nothing else, you are bound to meet a lot of interesting people and possibly even make some new friends and acquaintances on the way. You will certainly not feel like you have wasted your time – something many singles would have worried about before the pandemic, when time was so precious. We were all so stuck in our daily grind, that anything that did not yield an instant result felt like wasted effort. Working from home, unable to pursue most of our usual hobbies and with no imminent prospect of singles holidays or a holiday at all, we do appreciate meeting others a lot more – and time we have.
If you enjoyed this post, why not check out our other posts from our dating blog?