6 Potential Advantages of Dating During a Pandemic
How social distancing can strengthen our romantic connections.
Posted March 30, 2020 | Reviewed by Davia Sills
Given that so many people are experiencing high levels of stress due to grief, income loss, and health complications, you may believe that dating is the last thing on anyone’s mind. On the contrary, however, human beings have an innate desire to connect to others, and stressful circumstances, such as this pandemic, often heighten this universal need.
This has been demonstrated by recent data that reveals online dating usage has been rapidly increasing. For cities that have mandated shelter-in-place orders, messages being sent via the Bumble dating application between March 12-22 have gone up by 26 percent in San Francisco, 21 percent in Seattle, and 23 percent in New York City.
If you’re currently single, you may mistakenly assume that dating isn’t an option right now, but you could be pleasantly surprised if you are willing to get a little creative. Even if you were feeling frustrated by dating prior to social distancing requirements, this could be a good opportunity to try an approach that may yield different results during this unique time.
Before you put dating on hold or call it quits, consider the following potential advantages of dating during this pandemic:
1. You have an immediate icebreaker.
Coronavirus is a topic that is at the forefront of everyone’s mind because we’re all in this together. In a novel situation such as this one, you may find that people are more open to forming a connection, and it’s easier to initiate a conversation with a potential romantic interest online.
2. Building an emotional bond first may be more likely than it has been in the past.
During a crisis, people are often reminded of the fleeting nature of life and, as a result, may simultaneously feel a loss of control and an increase in vulnerability. People crave social connection and are more likely to drop their defenses when feeling vulnerable, particularly if they perceive that this is a shared experience.
You can develop an emotional bond more quickly with others when you go through a painful or adverse experience together. Research has demonstrated that experiencing a stressful event can encourage prosocial behavior and strengthen your bond with others.
Since many people may be more focused on seeking connections from others during this time, this can provide an opportunity to develop an emotional bond first with someone even if you can’t meet in real life yet.
3. Forming a close connection is more attainable without the usual distractions and barriers.
One of the barriers to meeting in real life when online dating is that the simple act of scheduling the date while trying to fulfill work, school, or other social obligations can be difficult to coordinate.
Dating right now means only having to figure out what time you will talk, which can lessen the usual pressure people often feel going into a first date.
For some people, this time may provide them with an opportunity to focus on dating in a more mindful way. Since people are craving connection, they may be more likely to engage in video chats or phone calls, rather than solely using texting. This can help the connection move past the surface level and deepen into something more.
4. The number of your dates may decrease, but the quality may increase.
One of the drawbacks of online dating is that people are often faced with too many choices. Author and psychologist Barry Schwartz discusses the paradox of choice in his book , which, when applied to dating, refers to difficulty selecting a partner when faced with too many options, which can result in the temptation to endlessly continue looking for the best match without settling down.
With everyone engaging in social distancing and staying home, the usual distractions may decrease. As a result, some people may feel encouraged to take a more mindful approach to dating than they typically would and focus on talking more in-depth with a select number of people, since meeting in real life isn’t an option.
5. You may actually save time and date more efficiently.
How many times have you gone on a date and then realized early on this person isn’t a match for you? This could occur due to realizing you’re not attracted to them, or that you don’t share the same values, or that you don’t have much in common.
There are some people who swear by speaking on the phone or FaceTime once before a date to see if they want to proceed to a first date, which can help reduce dating burnout and save your energy for matches that are a better fit for you. Now is a great time to try this approach out and see how it works for you. If it works well, you can continue using it when dating in real life becomes an option again.
6. You have an opportunity to see how a potential partner responds when they’re under stress.
For many people, it takes time to learn how their partner handles stress, and it usually gets revealed at some point in the future once the honeymoon phase is over, and you get to witness your partner in different situations, such as how they handle work-related stress and shared responsibilities.
We all experience varying levels of stress, and how we respond to stress can impact our relationships in different ways. Some people may shut down when they’re stressed, withdraw, become aggressive, or disappear for a few days. This is a rare opportunity for you to learn how a potential partner reacts under pressure early on, rather than months from now.
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Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only. This article is not intended to be a substitute for professional or psychological advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your mental health professional or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding your condition or well-being.
Dawans, B. V., Fischbacher, U., Kirschbaum, C., Fehr, E., & Heinrichs, M. (2012). The Social Dimension of Stress Reactivity. Psychological Science, 23(6), 651–660. doi: 10.1177/0956797611431576
Schwartz, B. (2004). The paradox of choice. New York: ECCO.
Cameron Costa, CNBC segment producer. “How Singles Are Meeting up on Dating Apps like Tinder, Bumble, Hinge during Coronavirus Pandemic.” CNBC. CNBC, March 24, 2020. https://www.cnbc.com/2020/03/24/how-singles-are-meeting-up-on-dating-apps-during-the-coronavirus.html.