Even before COVID-19 swept across the nation, many people were struggling to find love. Now with social distancing and safety regulations in place, the journey to love seems impossible.Many young people are still finding ways to connect with others, but is it safe and for the right reasons?
“I think it’s already an uphill battle to find a real connection on apps like Tinder when there’s not a global pandemic going on,” Chris Valverde, 22, business major, said. “I think if you’re looking for a real relationship it’s neither the time or the place [in dating apps] to find it.”
Dating apps like Bumble and Tinder have had a substantial increase in traffic since March. According to similarweb.com, an analytics site for web pages and apps, Tinder has seen an almost increase in visits of about 20 million since the beginning of the pandemic. According to the website, Bumble’s visits also increased by about three million within the last six months.
There has also been an increase in new apps directly targeted at these young romantics stuck at home such as OKZoomer and Quarantine Together. These websites’ main focuses, perhaps unlike others, are making dating safe and accessible during COVID-19.
However, even with these specialized apps, it seems that the general public doesn’t really believe this to be possible or that the high traffic they receive is from people who are actually interested in lasting relationships.
Lauren Mann, 21, communications major, was using dating apps on and off again before COVID-19.
“I’ve been using dating apps here and there for awhile just to meet new people and see if I could find any genuine connections or maybe a possible relationship,” she said. “For the most part everyone who’s approached me seems to be looking for the same things as me.”
According to Mann, these sentiments have seemed to change during the pandemic.
“Lately, like within the past couple months, there’s definitely been an increase in profiles and messages with bios like ‘I’m bored and need a quarantine buddy,’” she said. “It also just seems like the general consensus is that people are just bored and horny.”
As for the safety amongst dating, Mann doesn’t think it’s possible, although apps are making efforts to promote it.
“Bumble now has an option to answer the question ‘How do you want to date during COVID?’ [to be posted on your profile for others to see] with answers like ‘socially distanced’, ‘socially distanced with masks’ or ‘virtual dating’,” Mann said.
Another college student, however, was able to navigate the online dating experience safely and successfully.
Miki Stevens, 21, developmental psychology major, met her current boyfriend in the midst of the first wave of shutdowns.
“We matched and texted for a week or so before going on a date, and it was good. We talked for like three hours”, she said. “And then quarantine happened the next week.”
Stevens said that she didn’t go out again at the beginning of quarantine in order to follow stay at home guidelines, but as they loosened they were able to make it work.
She said, “We’ve only seen eachother a few times in person since we’ve begun dating, and besides the first time, we’ve been socially distanced and wearing masks in public places like a park or outdoor parking lot.” She added, “We usually do like facetime dinner dates.”
The success of her newfound relationship, Stevens admitted, came as a surprise to her considering the conditions it was held in with online dating and then a pandemic.
Steven’s experience serves as an example of how dating has had to adapt in order to be successful during COVID-19.
Regardless of what’s going on in the world, young people are always going to seek companionship, and with the ending of the pandemic still up in the air, dating apps and social distant dating is serving those looking for love.