Many aspects of the traditional college experience have been impacted by COVID-19, including dating practices. Photo courtesy of PBS.org.
MADELEINE HALL | STAFF REPORTER | firstname.lastname@example.org
Dating without the added stressors of an international pandemic is complicated enough, but when you throw in masks, a six feet physical buffer and the fear of catching a deadly virus, it becomes all the more daunting.
Social distancing creates a real challenge when it comes to building meaningful relationships, and compared to a year ago, the way in which students approach dating has drastically shifted.
Larry Arndt, a first-year exploratory business major said that, as a whole, dating has evolved into an increasingly tentative environment. In general, people are hesitant to get together and go out as they would have done before COVID-19 hit.
“Now there’s a skepticism around it, meeting new people in general,” Arndt said. “But once you get to know people I think that dating has actually gotten better because there’s not much else to do.”
COVID-19 prompts people to ask questions that they may not have before like whether or not someone is showing symptoms, when the last time their partner or crush was tested, if the six feet rule will apply on the date and if the masks will stay on or not.
The added danger of contracting COVID-19 causes many students to err on the side of caution when it comes to mingling with new people. However, silver linings can be found in the dating scene when thinking outside the box.
Outside dates such as hikes, stargazing or picnics — all of which can be done on Butler’s campus — take these concerns into account and provide safer options for spending time together. While outings to Broad Ripple or downtown may have been popular before COVID-19, these socially distanced outings can protect you and your partner from pathogens while still providing the opportunity to get to know each other.
For Zoe Roberts, a first-year dance pedagogy and economics major, her relationship spans even further than six feet, as she and her partner attend different schools. They began dating around the time the pandemic hit, forcing them to quickly adapt to make their relationship work despite everything that had changed.
“I think [COVID-19] really strengthened our relationship and it prepared us for long-distance,” Roberts said.
Additionally, students are meeting virtually for class, so what makes dating any different? Some examples of long-distance dates that work well in a pandemic include virtual coffee dates, nighttime calls and watching movies together through platforms such as Netflix Party and Zoom. Students have the opportunity right at their fingertips to stay connected through the internet.
Roberts said being apart from her partner led them to explore some of these options. From Facetiming frequently to going on walks and leaving each other notes, they found ways to improve their connection while remaining socially distant.
“We truly had to talk to each other — we couldn’t touch, we couldn’t cuddle — nothing physical so during quarantine, we really bonded intellectually,” Roberts said.
Dating apps provide plenty of options for those interested in finding potential dates while simultaneously avoiding the risk of meeting in person. Quinn Carlson, a sophomore finance major is one of the many who have joined a dating app in hopes of meeting someone new during the pandemic.
“People have resorted to dating apps — Tinder, Bumble, Hinge, you name it — to find people to connect with and it’s probably gonna be that way for a while,” Carlson said. “Might as well use technology for your advantage because it’s geared for exactly what’s going on right now.”
Although the way we approach dating has drastically changed during this pandemic, the intentions of forming an intimate relationship remain the same. If anything, COVID-19 has prompted people to find new ways of making and maintaining strong connections. As everyone navigates through these unpredictable times, it is important to remember that being cautious does not inhibit the possibility of having fun.
If you do decide to go out on dates during this pandemic, there are several things to keep in mind. It’s critical to monitor yourself for symptoms and to inform your partner immediately if you are displaying any. It is better to be safe than sorry, so if you really want to be sure, consider getting a COVID-19 test before going out, as it is of utmost importance to stay vigilant with wearing masks and keeping up with hygiene. Being open and honest with your partner is non-negotiable.