Dating during a pandemic: Is there any hope?

Jackie Blandón is a senior media studies major.

College is often a time that allows us to find out exactly what we want in a romantic partner; we’re able to play the field amidst a diverse group of people. As someone who’s graduating this fall, 2020 has dismally hijacked my final year plans, leaving me living at home again, away from my college friends and having to find new ways to meet my next potential partner. Oh, what a year it’s been — and we still have more than two months to go.

Though we’ve been thrown a multitude of curveballs, it doesn’t mean that all hope is lost when it comes to meeting a special someone. Apps like Tinder, Bumble, and Hinge have all adapted their platforms to make dating during a pandemic easier for their users. Tinder is keeping college students connected with other students at their universities with Tinder U —, that means the cutie from your 8 a.m. class whose video you keep pinning on Zoom could be your next Tinder match, even if you’re 500 miles apart. Additionally, Bumble now allows users to detail in their profiles the kind of dates they are comfortable going on, along with the safety precautions they’d prefer to take. You can say whether you’d like your date to be virtual, socially distanced with a mask, or just socially distanced (a perk of this: you can weed out the anti-maskers because yes, not wearing a mask isn’t cute). Hinge even conducted a poll among its members and found that 70% of them would be up for a virtual date. TikTok has also brought people together during quarantine, with its users making grand gestures to ask their cute neighbor or classmate out.  

While dating platforms have adapted to the circumstances of a pandemic, antiquated matchmaking techniques have also made a comeback. During quarantine, I started working at Blind Love Letters, a dating startup focused on connecting young people to potential love interests through the act of letter writing. Paying homage to the romantic letters of Jane Austen’s iconic novel “Pride and Prejudice,” writing a handwritten letter to a crush has become a way for us to take a break from the tech overload most of us are feeling and put our feelings out there. It’s somehow crueler to “leave someone on read” when they bothered to use a stamp.

All this to say, we can have fun with dating while still prioritizing our safety — there is technology in place to make sure we don’t have to risk our health just to go on a date with someone who may or may not be the one. I almost consider it a plus that we can now avoid the awkward goodbye hug or the unsolicited kiss because we’re sporting masks and trying to keep our distance. 

While I don’t think dating will go back to the way it was before the pandemic for a while, I think it will settle into a “new normal” — meaning virtual or socially distanced first dates and a return to writing love letters (a great way to send some love while also helping to #SaveTheUSPS). For any single Dons looking to find love, hope is not lost. Love is out there and waiting to be found, but might just look a little different than we’re used to.

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