Checking boxes on dating apps used to be a simple revelation of generic interests. Coffee shops, bookstores, art museums, wine tastings, volunteering, working out. But then a pandemic changed everything – especially personal contact. And that meant dating, too. Now, in an effort to preserve dating during COVID-19, there’s a new box theme: vaccination.
I have to admit, singles have been really creative during the COVID pandemic. They’ve used technology and social distancing to their advantage, using them as tools to get to know each other in meaningful ways.
They’ve polished up their online profiles, incorporating humor and references to their pandemic resourcefulness.
They’ve scheduled Zoom and FaceTime cocktail hours and dinners, complete with visible ambiance for their online dates.
And they’ve closed the gap on long distance by delving into meaningful conversations in anticipation of the day they would meet in person.
But distance gets old after a while. And there is only so much you can learn about a potential love connection when all your dates are on Zoom.
Just as grandparents have been aching to hug their grandchildren, singles have been itching to get back into the real dating scene. Dinner at the same (small) table. Dancing to a favorite band. Taking a day trip in the same car.
The promise of a vaccine somehow restored hope to those dating during COVID-19. And, for marriage-minded people, it renewed their faith that tying the knot would still be possible in their lifetimes.
However, seriously searching singles are still exercising caution. And they’re being creative in how they make that known.
Dating apps have been seeing a spike in profile names that have some form of the word vaccine in them. And many members have been using their profiles as a platform to advocate getting the vaccine.
Of course, those segments of the population that have had first shot at the vaccine (no pun intended) are pretty limited. Frontline healthcare workers, first responders, and people over 65 have been the first to receive it.
And, despite a rollout plan to vaccinate everyone eligible over the next several months, supply is still limited. And getting a place in line hasn’t been as simple as getting an annual flu shot.
Where you live affects availability and the timing of distribution, as well.
(It also affects your ability to safely date in person, especially in cold-weather areas.)
What’s important for people to know with regard to dating during COVID-19 is that the vaccine is not a green light to abandon protective behaviors.
Unfortunately, a lot of singles have jumped the gun and made assumptions about the protection the vaccine provides. And that can be dangerous.
Although getting both rounds of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine will decrease chances of getting the virus, at least severely, there are still unknowns.
Can an asymptomatic vaccinated person still catch and transmit the virus? If the efficacy is 94-95%, what are the chances a vaccinated person is in the bottom 5-6%?
What about the new coronavirus variants? While the vaccines are said to be able to recognize these new mutations, studies are still going on.
And then there’s the obvious risk of someone socializing with people who may not be vaccinated and/or who may have COVID. What happens when that person starts dating in person?
One thing this virus has made clear is how interconnected we all are.
You may think you’re on a quiet dinner date with that special someone. But, in this time of COVID, you’re also on a date with his/her close circle of contacts.
The CDC and medical community still advise that everyone, regardless of vaccination status, continue to comply with COVID guidelines.
What does that mean for singles dating during COVID-19? Frustrating as it may be, it means exactly what it meant before the vaccine: masks, social-distancing, hand-washing, testing.
Interestingly, attitudes about the vaccine are turning out to be as revealing as attitudes about politics, religion, and social responsibility.
A good portion of people on dating apps are using vaccination status – and openness to receiving the vaccine – as a filter.
Middle-aged and senior daters will remember when a similar screening approach was used for AIDS. People were terrified of contracting the virus, and many expected potential mates to be transparent about their sex lives and to be tested.
Similarly, the way people talk about COVID and its vaccine is proving to be a revelation of deeper beliefs and attitudes.
Those who have been vaccinated or plan to be are inclined to view the vaccine as part of their social responsibility. “I’m not just protecting myself, I’m protecting you.”
If you have that kind of value system, what are the chances you’ll want to date someone who believes the virus isn’t really serious? And what if s/he refuses to get the vaccine, especially for political or skeptical reasons?
While finding true love is still a priority for millions of singles of all ages, dating during COVID-19 comes with boundaries.
Those who take the virus seriously are getting vaccinated or planning to be.
And when a couple starts to become serious, then I find they get tested and put one another within each other’s bubble.
They’re also abstaining from close physical contact and even embracing celibacy until intimacy has a greater assurance of safety. (Of course, this depends on the age group of the people dating. I find the younger people are more willing to take risks than the over 50 group.)
In other words, they’re usually willing to wait.
And that mindset, regardless of sexual attraction to someone, can tell you a lot about that person’s potential for a committed relationship.
I know it seems as if this virus is never going to go away. And maybe it won’t. But we are getting it under control, slowly but surely.
People will touch again, dance again, kiss again, be intimate again.
The choice you have while dating during COVID-19 is the attitude you take toward this virus and its prevention.
What you think, say, and do now has meaning and implications that could reach far into the future. Continue to practice safety and make it count!