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Six feet of separation: love in the age of COVID-19

People are forming meaningful connections through new functions on dating apps. Illustration: Rigby Guerrero The Sentry

Staying home is changing how people date for the better

The majority of the world may be practicing social distancing, but that doesn’t necessarily mean making connections, whether it be friendly or romantic in nature, is out of the question. If anything, having someone to talk to can make a huge difference right now. As college students, meeting people and forming relationships is a normal milestone in this stage of life that in many ways has been disruptedWithin the days and weeks since these new norms have been enacted, established dating apps, as well as new apps specifically designed with quarantine in mind, have responded to this disruption. Their goal: to maintain some sense of normalcy as well as fend off the loneliness that can come from being isolated for long periods of time. 

Some dating appssuch as Bumble, that already have established video chat options are urging potential matches to use those services in lieu of in person dates. The unintended benefit to removing the ability to meet in person may be that it encourages singles to slow down and be more intentional about what they are looking for. Not to mention, options such as video chat allow for longer conversations, which equates to more time to get to know someone, resulting in an increase in genuine connections.  

Other apps, such as Love Is Quarantine Boulder, match locals based on age and preference through blind dates that take place over the phone or in Google Hangouts audio sessions. These dates start out “blind,” meaning neither party sees what the other looks like before their first audio “date. As a result, neither party comes in with any false pretenses or assumptions about their date based on appearance alone. This is a drastic shake up from the swipe right culture that has overtaken much of modern-day online dating. In an interview with Boulder Daily camera, Love Is Quarantine Creator Jessica Bailis explained how she sees her platform as a way of helping singles connect with someone that they will want to meet in person and have a chance at a real relationship with once the Pandemic is over and life returns to normal, or whatever the new normal will be.  

In between matching twenty-somethings, many of these apps are also generating ways of checking in on their users, ensuring that they are using these services safely and are aware of their own mental health in the midst of all of this. This includes everything from reminding users to keep their connections virtual for the time being, targeting specific users for group chats about how they’re coping with being quarantined, sending strategically timed reminders to wash their hands, all of this in the name of love, of course.  

Whether or not all of these changes to dating persist after social distancing ends is yet to be determined. What will hopefully persist though is a renewed desire, virtual or not, for meaningful connections. 

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