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Finding love during a global pandemic


Mountain tops with a cloudy blue sky in the background.
Kim's view from her hiking date to Raven Lake.

Dating during a pandemic is a curious thing.

When I started dating as an adult, after more than fifteen years away from the single life, it was in a pre-COVID-19 world. The easiest way to meet new people was, as it is now, online. Things weren’t easy to navigate then, and they certainly didn’t get easier as the pandemic moved in.

My adventures in dating took a step back and a pause as the initial waves of COVID-19 washed over the world. Keeping myself and my family safe and getting used to a life of working from home (a privilege I am thankful for) took precedence. As things eased a bit in the fall of 2020, I tentatively tried my luck again.

As I was neither working in the office nor seeing friends in public social settings, dating apps were one of the only viable ways to connect with new people. COVID-19 wasn’t originally mentioned on the apps themselves when I stepped back into the world of virtual dating. The only way to get a sense of someone’s stance on the pandemic and their health and safety practices was to chat about it via in-app messaging systems.

In my more recent visits to dating apps, I was curious and happy to see options showing pandemic health and safety in the apps themselves. For instance:

  • If you choose, you can declare your vaccination status. This can then appear on your profile if you allow it.
  • COVID-19 dating preferences can also be built into in-app profiles. This can look like:
    • Whether you’d like first meetings to be online (via a platform such as Zoom), or in person.
    • If meeting in person, are masks necessary or not?
    • If meeting in person, are you comfortable indoors, or outdoors only?

I appreciate the opportunity these apps offer to continue to think about what pandemic dating looks like for me. It’s also a great way to get a sense of the preferences of a match prospect early on.

Once I’m comfortable with a match, I’m open to an in-person meeting. (For me, being comfortable looks like enough messaging or texting time that we can get a good sense of each other.) My preferences for first meetings are usually a walk in an open and populated park, a visit to a coffee shop, or meeting in a restaurant. I always make sure someone in my personal life knows where I am, who I’m with, and when I’m safely home.

Safety is key. It’s not just about keeping yourself safe from COVID-19. Please have safety plans in place for meeting new people as well. Trust your gut with the people you’re chatting with, match with, and/or meet at events. Your health and well-being is always more important than your relationship status.

It’s also important to maintain your boundaries, and not only in a time of COVID-19. If you only feel comfortable dating people who are fully vaccinated, that’s valid. It’s also valid if you prefer that masks stay on during events, park walks, or whatever the adventure might be, until you’re comfortable taking them off. Your boundaries are important, and “no” is a full sentence that deserves respect. It’s important that you and your match know what you’re both looking for, and how you’re navigating romance in a pandemic (or out of one). That communication of expectations is also important for health and safety.

I have been fortunate to meet some really great people. I’ve had some fun conversations, I’ve gone on some great adventures (like hiking Raven Lake for the first time), and I’ve learned more about myself.

While I haven’t made a lasting love connection (yet!), I have enjoyed aspects of the time I have spent in the dating world. If you’re on this journey as well, I hope you’re having fun, being safe, learning more about yourself, and meeting great people. Best of luck!