Updating love: The changes of the dating world

Dating has always been awkward, especially with the rise of online dating and profile searching. Photo by Hanna Middleton | The Signal

Dating can be fun, romantic and filled with excitement. However, that doesn’t mean it comes with ease. Besides being time-consuming and stressful, finding someone to connect with on a deeper level is anything but simple.

Emotionally bonding with others is challenging, especially when there’s a global pandemic involved. As COVID-19 forces bars, clubs and restaurants to implement restrictions and regulations, “meet-cutes” are few and far between.

Junior Anne Hickey explains her COVID-19 dating experiences. In her opinion, the pandemic dating scene has been more challenging for singles since they can’t go out and meet people like before.

“Masks and social distancing are absolutely necessary and vitally important, but they do make it harder to make connections with people,” she said. “Seeing someone’s face helps in creating that initial spark, and getting close to someone is part of flirting. Nowadays, I’m not comfortable doing either.” 

The mental pressure and loneliness of being distanced and quarantined are hitting many singles hard.

According to Everlywell surveys, one in four young Americans broke quarantine in April, when stay-at-home orders were at their peak, to go hook up. Also, 15% admitted to hooking up with their roommates. 

Junior Sarah Evans commented on the shift of atmosphere in the dating world. She’s seen a significant change in how people interact and view romantic relationships. 

“With more of the younger generations recovering from positive test results and entering the dating world again, they only seem interested in hookups or flings,” she said. “It’s like they feel that they have to make up for all the missed time they spent alone. They are repelled from the idea of actually creating a meaningful connection.”

Getting to know someone requires courage and patience. That courage is now harder to find in many singles. Instead of bars, many are moving their searches to dating apps and online profiles. 

According to a Morning Consult poll, 53% of people report using online dating services and apps more during the pandemic.

“I have seen an increase in people using apps like Tinder and Bumble for sure,” Junior Daniel Cabrera said. “I feel like people don’t have anything to do, and you can’t really go out and meet people during a pandemic. With the easy accessibility of apps like those, it’s no wonder more people are turning to them.”

Dating involves opening up to someone new and being vulnerable. However, emotional vulnerability is the last thing on people’s minds when they’re afraid the person next to them could be carrying a deadly virus. 

Many young Americans struggle in the new world of dating, attraction and sex, and many hope things will return to normal once the virus is behind them. 

“Living in [a] world of COVID-19 doesn’t allow for any certainties,” Evans said. “With so many unknowns, I’m hoping things get better with time and that everything eventually gets back to normal. And, one can only hope the same applies to the dating world.”