Reflecting on romance: a peek at post-pandemic dating

From staying single to maintaining a long-term relationship, the pandemic has affected most people’s love lives in one way or another.

COVID-19 forced many to get creative in their approach to romance. But with more and more people getting vaccinated, life is starting to return to what it was before — and so is the dating scene.  

Professional tips 

Crista Beck, dating coach and matchmaker, said relationships and dating looked different during the pandemic. While it brought some couples closer together, it drove others apart. 

Relationships born in the pandemic, which were mostly online, can cause both parties to be nervous about what follows post-pandemic. They’ve invested so much time and attention into someone who they might not have met in real life yet, she said. 

When meeting, it’s important to limit any expectations that the relationship has to go somewhere and just see if a connection can happen in real life, Beck said. 

After both parties are vaccinated and feel safe, she said to spend time together and see the other person in different environments. 

Spend time in each other’s company in real life and allow it to unfold over time. From there, just see how it goes, Beck said. 

The main thing is to transition the relationship to real life as soon as possible. 

During the pandemic, it’s likely that people learned a lot about themselves, so it’s also important to honor those new discoveries when entering the dating scene, she said. 

Serious online relationships 

Business marketing junior Celeste Madden was in a two-and-a-half-year relationship before and during COVID-19 that finally ended in January. 

Madden and her former partner lived separately during the duration of COVID-19 but were only ten minutes away and able to see each other often. 

At the time, Madden wasn’t working, but her partner was, so they operated around his schedule to have quality time together, she said. 

They mainly enjoyed active things like riding bikes and going on walks as forms of quality time that kept them safe from COVID-19, Madden said. 

However, having more time to spend together revealed major compatibility issues in the relationship for Madden. These concerns wouldn’t have fully surfaced for her had the distractions of everyday life been present like they were before COVID-19, Madden said. 

She had been contemplating breaking off the relationship before the pandemic because her intuition was telling her something was off. The relationship was healthy for the most part, but long-term compatibility was the roadblock they kept running into, she said. 

For example, despite not having a job at the time, Madden was enrolled in classes, while her partner was only working and not going to school. He expected Madden to spend all her free time with him, but she needed her personal time away. 

Madden said it was difficult to set boundaries and express her needs because she felt like her partner didn’t see their relationship issues the way she did. 

Though the choice to break off the relationship was difficult, Madden was happy she made the decision for herself. She learned a lot about herself from that relationship, she said. 

Dating during the pandemic 

When nursing junior Tyrell Cabrigas first started using dating apps, he thought they were a surefire way to get into a relationship during the pandemic. 

But the longer he used them, the more he found that they didn’t work as well for him as he’d like. Meeting someone in-person felt more authentic to him because he was able to see their emotions, which is a tricky part of texting and online dating, Cabrigas said. 

Eventually, he met someone online, and they bonded over video games like League of Legends and MapleStory. The pair started dating in August 2020 and were together for about seven months, he said. 

Cabrigas said dating during a pandemic was hard on both of them because they weren’t able to see each other very often. It was comparable to a long-distance relationship because most of the experience was online, he said. 

Something Cabrigas learned from dating during COVID-19 was the importance of communication in a relationship. 

With everything being online and the two of them being busy, they often had trouble with communication and scheduling time to hang out together, Cabrigas said. 

Singles re-entering the dating scene 

Business management sophomore Michelle Luna has been consciously single for the past two years, and that time has made her more appreciative of herself. Her confidence has flourished, she said. 

Luna used to depend on validation from her romantic partners to feel good about herself, but choosing to be single has shown her that she doesn’t need external validation from future romantic partners, she said. 

She isn’t ready for a relationship right now, Luna said, but when she is ready to start dating again, establishing a sustainable connection will be important to her, she said. 

Her advice for other singles that are ready to start dating again is to first discuss vaccine and STD status before any in-person dates. 

Luna is hopeful for dating post-pandemic because she feels like dating is harder with masks and social distancing. 

Overall, the pandemic’s effect on dating will hopefully make people more cautious and intentional with who they choose to date, she said. 

@aivylinaa

@alexushurtado

features-editor.shorthorn@uta.edu

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