Students’ dating lives reshaped by social distancing

For years, the perfect first date involved dinner, a movie and a night getting drinks in the city.

These days, it’s often gazing into each other’s eyes… virtually.

The outbreak of COVID-19 has sent students back home to live with their parents, and eliminated many opportunities to meet new people on campus for potential romance. Bars, restaurants and movie theatres have closed, and student dating has gotten more challenging during this time of isolation.

“Dating has always started from meeting someone at a bar or on campus,” said senior Matt Williams. “Right now, it is hard to reach out to someone during this quarantine with how hard it is to go out on a date.”

Even so students are still trying.

“Quarantine has definitely affected my dating life. However, I am still attempting to reach out and make those connections,” said sophomore Samantha Schultz. “For me it is much less about social-dating, it is the lack of communication and making those new conversations [that is] the hardest.”

Some students are frustrated that the stay-at-home orders have interrupted their efforts at romance.

“I went out on a date right before COVID-19 was labeled as a pandemic, and because of all the businesses closing, it has been hard to plan a second date,” said senior Ryan Huber. “It is quite upsetting when you want to spend so much time with a person but the circumstances say otherwise.”

Many of these students are turning to the beauty of social media dating and apps to discover and maintain those flirty relationships.

“While I have always had the dating app Tinder, I am on it more now than ever before,” said Williams. “I will swipe left and right aimlessly for the fun of it, and sometimes I get lucky and I’ll match with a girl who I start getting to know.”

Schultz agrees.

“I use Bumble, which allows the girl to reach out first, and I really have been enjoying talking and chatting with other people,” she said. “I do not feel like I’m wasting my time because I can eventually meet these people face-to-face.”

Despite the use of dating apps, they have their limits.

“I am still using my dating apps during this quarantine, but it is weird knowing that nothing much can come from it right now,” said Huber.

While many students are struggling to find those special people to date, others are dealing with the hardships of maintaining the romance in their lives.

“My boyfriend of a year and I made the decision to physically social distance during this outbreak,” said sophomore Alexis Neal. “It has been really hard dealing with the sudden change of spending time with this person to only talking through our devices.”

Although she’s looking forward to better times.

“We want to start planning to go on walks on the bike trail soon, six feet apart,” she said.

While COVID-19 has limited the romance for many students, some say the situation is really making clear how important it is to have human connections.

“It is not about the physical aspect of the relationship I want,” said Huber. “It’s about having normal conversations face-to-face with someone special, that Facetime cannot replace.”

Schultz thinks the experience will strengthen some relationships.

“I think all of the time that dating is spent online, the more special it will be with that person after quarantine,” she said. “Facetime calls can be as intimate as in-person interactions.”

Most students are just trying to make the best of a bad situation.

“I am having fun using dating apps. For me, dating has become more interesting this way,” said Williams. “As bad as it may sound, I am definitely saving a lot more money dating during COVID-19.”