Valentine’s Day has always been a time for celebrating love. But finding (and keeping) the perfect partner amidst a global pandemic might be like searching for a needle in a haystack. Most people work from home, with many unable to meet dates in person or go to social events due to fear of contracting the virus.
The rules have changed, and the way people meet, interact, and connect has been affected by our “new normal.” If dating was a challenge before, it might be infinitely more challenging today, both for single people and couples.
As we celebrate the love month in yet another pandemic year, it’s time to sit back and reflect on how the pandemic affected the dating scene. And how can single folks and couples navigate these changes? Let’s find out!
How Has COVID Changed the Dating Landscape?
On Social Media and Dating Apps
One of the most significant changes in dating brought about by the pandemic is the growing prevalence and usage of dating apps and social media. In a survey conducted by SuperStaff, it was found that there has been a significant increase in social media users for online dating.
Ease of Communication vs. Quality of Communication
Pandemic restrictions have made it necessary for people to turn to more digital means of communication. Dating apps and social media may make it easier for people to reach a wider dating pool, but have these enabled people to make deeper connections?
When asked about whether they were satisfied with their experience using modern dating apps,
Many people who used dating apps during the pandemic found it challenging to find real connections because they couldn’t read their date’s body language or try new things with them. Dating apps and social media allowed them to meet many people, but it was a struggle to connect with them on a more personal level.
On Meeting Dates Before and During the Pandemic
The pandemic has not only changed the frequency with which people use social media and dating apps; it has also limited organic social interactions, making it harder for people to meet and connect with potential dates in person.
The Challenges of Romance in the “New Normal”
Lack of Variety in Date Activities
One of the most significant challenges faced by single people and couples who want to get romantic during the pandemic is that they are restricted in where they can and can’t go. Before COVID-19, people could go on dates anywhere and enjoy new activities together, such as road trips, rock climbing, hiking, concerts, museum tours, the like.
Today, many outdoor leisure activities are prohibited, limiting potential date ideas for any couple looking to get to know each other better or simply keeping things fresh.
Jillian Jay Feliciano shared her experience with dating amid the pandemic, “It is harder [to date] now since my boyfriend and I can’t try new things, like traveling, together.”
Difficulty With Trust and Communication
Finding new people to meet online may be easy, but establishing trust and communicating well with them is a different matter entirely.
Sometimes, the problem is a poor internet connection, which can hinder or delay communication during crucial bonding moments. Meanwhile, others find it more challenging to connect with someone through chats or video calls than meeting them in person.
Single people dating during the “new normal” have also learned to be more cautious when online with potential dates. Social media and dating apps have made it easy to create fake profiles, so catfishing and love scams can be pretty common, making it harder for people to assess whom they can and cannot trust.
Health and Safety First
Another significant challenge with dating during the pandemic is navigating health and safety concerns. For instance, some people couldn’t enjoy eating out on a date because they had to stay physically distanced with their masks on the entire time.
Some people have even chosen to stay home and have virtual dates instead for fear of contracting the virus. Although everyone acknowledged the importance of following COVID protocols and guidelines, many couples felt that these affected the quality of their bonding time and prevented them from expressing affection and intimacy.
The Upsides of Pandemic Dating
More Genuine and Personalized Dates
Many people struggled with forming and keeping romantic relationships amid the pandemic. However, some felt the situation strengthened their bond with their significant others. For instance, some couples felt that their dates during the quarantine period were more genuine, personalized, and intimate.
Instead of going to fancy restaurants or participating in outdoor leisure activities, some couples spent quality time together, thinking of simple dates they could have at home. The quarantine period allowed married couples to get to know each other deeper while cooking together, having dinner dates, binging Netflix shows, and enjoying intimate conversations.
Cherishing Time Spent Together
As the saying goes, “Distance makes the heart grow fonder.” And this is especially true for some couples who aren’t married or living together during the pandemic. Many people who were already in established relationships felt that their bond grew stronger during this time because they ended up cherishing their dates more. Since they couldn’t see each other as often, they had to make the most of the time they did spend together.
Athena Yenko shares some insights on how the pandemic helps keep the flame of romance alive: “You are at an extremely difficult period to go out on a date. However, what I see is that the pandemic makes everything more romantic again.
Social distancing increases sexual tension. Lockdowns make meet-ups sweeping once more. Pandemic actually adds more color to the waiting game. I think that because it’s harder to meet someone these days, many will appreciate that one person whom they will meet and connect with.”
Some single people also felt that the pandemic made it easier to determine who was worth their time and who wasn’t. Dating during the “new normal” meant that single folks had to form long-distance relationships with the people they met online, and the ones worth keeping were those who made an effort to stay in touch despite the distance.
More Convenient and Economical
There’s a reason why the Tagalog word for love, “mahal,” also means “expensive.” Having a love life can take a toll on your wallet, having to make reservations at fancy restaurants, buying flowers, chocolates, and jewelry during special occasions, or traveling the world with your significant other.
Thankfully, the pandemic became a reason for many couples to choose simple date ideas that prioritized quality bonding time over costly material items. Daniella Marisse Fernandez shares her favorite pandemic date, “It was amazing! [We were] staying at home, watching movies, buying groceries, and cooking instead of going out and eating in [restaurants].”
Top 4 Tips for Single People Dating Amid the Pandemic
#1: Join online social groups.
Dating apps may seem convenient, but many single people find it harder to create quality connections there. Sometimes, the best way to meet people to date is by joining online clubs or social groups where you can chat with others who enjoy the same hobbies and interests that you have.
#2: Be open but cautious and aware when meeting new people online.
Remember: Stay safe when interacting with people on the internet. Not everyone is who they say they are. As much as possible, schedule phone or video calls with a potential date before meeting up with them in person.
#3: Follow the minimum health protocols and guidelines.
The pandemic isn’t over yet. So, if you’re going on a date with that special someone, don’t forget to wear a mask and follow social distancing guidelines. For extra safety, Grace Rivera recommends that single people “ask for [their date’s] vaccine card.”
#4: Don’t rush.
For many single people, it may feel frustrating to feel like they have to put their dating life on hold because of the pandemic. Your feelings are valid, but also remember that love isn’t a race, and there’s no rush to find that special someone.
Ma. Elvira Delos Reyes shares some words of wisdom for single folks: “Don’t rush yourself because there will come a time when the right person will come to you. Don’t look for someone just because you want to date but instead, date someone because you genuinely like them and enjoy spending time with them.”
Top 4 Tips for Couples Keeping the Romance Alive in the “New Normal”
#1: Communicate, communicate, communicate!
Communication has always been an essential part of any relationship, but it’s even more critical when navigating the challenges of the pandemic. Whether you are working from home together or living apart, it’s vital to talk to each other and communicate your feelings.
#2: Schedule some time out of your day just to spend time together.
Daily work-from-home problems and household responsibilities can make it challenging for married couples to spend quality time together. However, making time for each other is essential. Even small and simple gestures can make a big difference.
#3: Be creative and think outside the box with your dates.
To keep things fresh, try to come up with different activities to do together. Acelin Bliss Suico has one helpful suggestion for couples looking for something new to do together: “Try to learn each other’s hobbies or skills. If the other loves to play games, try to learn the game they are playing, it’s also a great time to bond, or when the other is a good cook, try to learn how to cook a simple dish and cook for them, it makes you appreciate each other more.”
#4: Remember to cherish the time you spend together.
Hearthylyn Fiel shares some words of wisdom: “For couples who are always together, you are blessed. Maximize the luxury of time being together, do the things you like the new normal way, learn new hobbies together. It might be tiring at times seeing the same person every day, but come on, you are super lucky to be with your BAE at this time. Enjoy it.”
Indeed, this love month is all about being grateful for what you have, whether you are single, married, or in a relationship. Hopefully, the world will start recovering from COVID soon, but for now, we can navigate these challenges while keeping our hearts and minds open. Happy Valentine’s Day!