NEW YORK — Dating has never been the easiest endeavor. Even in a pre-pandemic world, there’s first date nerves, trying to suss out a complete stranger’s intentions and the general possibility of rejection.
But in a COVID-19 world, all of those factors are not only amplified but just breathing the same air could be dangerous. Not to mention, a whole lot of people are facing mental health struggles because of the pandemic, which can’t be a great thing for dating.
Dating During a Pandemic
A matchmaker gives her tips on how to date during a virtual pandemic world.
Still, for many, the best place to be single is New York City. When you live alone and are new to the city, dating can be a source of connection. It can be an excuse to get out and explore the things that the city still has to offer.
For others, the hardest parts about dating here — like the infamous “so many options makes people indecisive” issue — have only gotten worse.
Yet as the pandemic lingers on, people have learned to adapt and find their new normal. And if you’re single — that means finding a way to continue dating.
These conversations have been edited and condensed for clarity.
Lisa Chau, “Over 30,” writing and marketing professional
I feel like there are lots of options being in the city. I love walking around the city. There’s so much public art. We have parks. And there are restaurants that are open. The restaurants are trying really, really hard so there are all of these options. Now you can sit in a globe. You can sit in these little wooden huts. There are options of things to do in the city. In that sense, the city does have its advantages. And you still do have a lot more people so there will still be people who are willing to date here.
Chrissy McLarty, 23, security company employee
It’s hard being single during Corona, let me tell you something. I think that men are trying to use it as an excuse to try to ‘Netflix and chill’ you on night one.
Guys think that because it’s cold and because there’s only outdoor dining — they’re like, ‘Oh, you can just come over, we’ll get a bottle of wine.’ No, it doesn’t work like that. I’m not going to a stranger’s house during a pandemic, where no one really knows your whereabouts, because you’re not going to work during the day so no one’s going to really notice that you’re missing unless you have a roommate.
Julian Barlow, 31, teacher
Dating as a trans person feels really hard and challenging sometimes. There’s a lot of explaining that I have to do on apps. It gets tiresome and it feels tricky, but I’m still trying.
On the downside of spending too much time on dating apps: You start to question yourself when you’re swiping for people. I’m like, ‘Wait, what even is my type anymore? Why would I have said no to that person?’ And then I start to feel really shallow. It definitely starts to feel very appearance-based and that doesn’t make me feel good about myself — to be judging people in that way.
Robert Galinsky, 56, literacy and theater teacher
Ghosting happens mostly after a lot of pointless or directionless texting back and forth. There’s the constant texting and conversing electronically and the rhythm of that, which is really annoying. We don’t know each other, we don’t have any shared experiences. There’s no next level of conversation to go to and it gets tiring, monotonous and really annoying to be telling somebody who basically is a stranger, ‘I had a great day. How about you?’ I have nothing invested in this person.
On taking temporary break from dating apps: I realized it’s kind of like junk food. You stop eating junk food for a couple weeks and start to feel better. I notice that I actually sleep better and I got time to do other things that are more meaningful.
Katheryn Keller, 42, professional organizer
I think the general challenge is always that people are just so busy. It’s very easy to cancel. It’s easy to flake. That’s the worst part about dating in New York. I would say the best part is that it can be super easy and casual and there’s so much to do. If you go somewhere, if you don’t like the person, it’s easy to get out of or if you like the person, it’s easy to be like, ‘Oh, let’s walk down the street and go here.’
Chantal Jandard, 30, designer
I’ve experienced ghosting before, but now it seems a lot more. People are overstressed-ghosting as opposed to flaky-ghosting. Around the coup, a lot of conversations dropped off. It makes sense. People just can’t really emotionally process app-dating when, you know, the world is kind of on fire.
There’s a lot more boundary navigation now, especially with people being comfortable with different things. For myself, I don’t meet people in person on the first day. I just don’t think it’s worth the risk. Some people don’t want to Zoom on the first date, so I just wish them well and go.
Rachel Ram, 25, program coordinator
I got broken up with today so I’m in a negative mood about this topic. Other times, I feel like my love for New York is enhanced with my dating experiences, because I’m always impressed with the accomplishments of people or the places that people I’ve dated have been to. I’ve dated so many international people and visited new neighborhoods and tried new cuisines. It’s given me opportunities I wouldn’t have otherwise had.
It’s been a little easier to make plans. I also just feel like there’s a little less stress in my life overall. There’s a little less pressure since I’m not in my typical intense mindset that I have when I was working in the office. I go into dates with a more relaxed energy. I think that’s a positive too — I don’t take it to heart as much when I don’t think it’ll work out.
Roz Mays, 36, personal trainer and pole dancing instructor
I think one thing is that it does kind of force people to slow down. But I personally am pretty comfortable. I like talking on the phone. I prefer to talk to someone a few times before we meet in person for a date because then I find the first date a lot less awkward. In a way, you can have some of those deeper conversations earlier, and maybe get to know someone before making the effort to meet them. I would say that that does make that a little bit easier.
Dylan Wells, 26, marketing manager
You sort of have to play this game of trying to figure out how many people somebody lives with and whether or not they’re being careful. I’ve been starting almost all of my dates with a video call, which sort of helps with some of those questions. Honestly, I think I may continue doing it after the pandemic, just because it seems like it’s been good for figuring out whether or not I’m aligned with people in terms of what we’re looking for.
I have a friend that I talk to almost every week in Cincinnati and based on the news coverage she still has this sort of image of New York as this dead, looted hellscape. And that’s just not true. There’s still a lot to do here and there was a lot to do with open streets during the warmer months. I still think that there’s a lot to do and a lot of potential good dates here. Also, frankly, the city is extremely walkable. As somebody who’s doing my best to avoid public transit, but also doesn’t own a car, I think that’s been really good. I don’t think it’s nearly as sort of down and out as a lot of the rest of the country seems to think.
Dating apps have become one of my major sources of human connection and certainly my biggest source of human connection with people that I didn’t previously know. There’s no casually meeting people at dinner parties or at bars anymore. This is the only way that I’m meeting new people at this point.
Talia Winter Goldsmith, 18, dessert shop cashier
I didn’t really talk to anyone during the pandemic last year at all. I would go to Tompkins [Square Park]. A lot of kids hang out there by the skatepark and I would talk to some people, but I never — I just didn’t really want to do anything.
On meeting her current boyfriend: It was November 8 — I think the day Biden was projected to win. I got off of work at midnight and me and my friends went to Washington Square Park. My boyfriend’s friend went up to my friend and asked her to hit her vape and we all started talking. And that’s how I met him.
On navigating her first relationship during a pandemic: I just have to be, like, very aware of everything and what I’m doing, which can be pretty annoying, but especially because I’m so young, I just want to be able to enjoy my relationship and do whatever I want. I feel like I shouldn’t really have to worry that much at this age or deal with responsibilities like that because I’m a child. But I have been having to worry a lot because I don’t want to hurt my family.