Love and Covid: How the pandemic has changed the dating game

Covid-19 has changed many aspects of society, some irreversibly, but one area with outsized impacted is dating and relationships.

With lockdowns, restrictions, social distancing and general fear of Covid-19 keeping people in their homes for much of the past two years, interpersonal relationships have taken on a decidedly more digital nature.

However dating coach and owner of #DateDifferentlyAcademy, Russell Ross, says the lack of physicality has allowed for a greater level of connection between people to emerge on first dates.

The pandemic has provided an unexpected benefit as people get “more creative” with their dates, he said.

“When covid hit the traditional dating model of meeting up with people for drinks started to change.

Russell Ross, a self-styled relationship coach, helps women get their best out of dating.
Russell Ross, a self-styled relationship coach, helps women get their best out of dating. Source: Facebook/DateDifferently

“Interestingly what started to happen was because you have to walk you have to start talking, you couldn’t rely on alcohol to get drunk, you couldn’t just sit there and flirt, you kinda had to get to know each other,” he told Yahoo News Australia.

“So with this shift from traditional dating it went from drinking all night and waking up with someone to spending a walk of about two hours where you were forced to get to know each other.

“I found that our market had second and third dates from the first, when many previously did not go past the first date. It also wasn’t heavily anchored in sexual escalation, or chemistry or flirting.

“There were a lot more digital dates and having that screen in front of you took away the fear a little bit,” he said.

Mr Ross, who is a self-styled dating advisor, said people reported doing more unique activities on a first date.

“I had one girl say she went on a date where the guy turned up with two little water colour pads and they sat together and did a little sketch of a bridge or what they saw.”

Screen fatigue and a greater acceptance of Covid is seeing dating return to normal, he said, but the more creative elements will likely remain as a positive outcome from the long periods of isolation.

People on Zoom
Weather for work or your social life, Zoom has played a big role for many of us. Source: Facebook/DateDifferently

“When the pandemic first hit most people didn't want to catch it but that’s started to change and people are far more comfortable with covid.

“There are still those that are scared but most are ensuring that they remain diligent. We're starting to see things like [dating apps] Bumble, Tinder and Hinge where you can see your vaccination status ... It’s an unprecedented time to date.”

Aussies share their Covid-normal dating stories

Yahoo News Australia spoke to a number of people about their dating experiences over the past two years. Their experiences were varied, with some seeing an immediate change in their dating habits, while others reported none. However some stopped dating altogether due to coronavirus concerns.

“I’m meeting someone on the weekend for the first time. I’m in health. He’s in construction. We both get tested regularly. Meeting outdoors at a café,” said Mel.

Amanda, from Queensland, said being unvaxxed in a state that has shut out those who refuse the jab made dating near impossible.

“I was talking to someone who said he wasn't vaxed either. His suggestion was to go to his place and, well we all know that's not a safe option. I guess now from a female perspective our options of meeting in a public space are limited.”

Meanwhile Cam, from Sydney, said he had dated the last 12 months during lockdowns and restrictions and “nothing had changed” for him.

Kim, from Tamworth, said covid had just further complicated an already complex issue for her.

“I have no idea about how to date, that’s the problem I grew up going out and meeting people and the past nearly 20 years I’ve been in two relationships.

Woman with beautiful profile picture on internet site.
Covid has created the need for people to get creative with their dates, leading to greater levels of connection.

“It’s not the fear of covid, that’s part of life now. I have kids so restrictions aside of course, I am mindful not to impact them.

“There are a lot of other things to consider getting back into the scene, and [Covid] just gets added to the 'be aware, careful list'.

“It’s not like we are all going to put a QR code on ourselves or is that the future of dating?”

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