US-NEWS-NCSENATE-CUNNINGHAM-DMT

For those who want to date, there isn't much of a choice right now other than meeting online.

Dating during the pandemic is a risk and, more often than not, a dead end. Online dating apps such as Tinder, Hinge and Bumble are great for establishing relationships virtually, but when it comes time to meet in person, there’s a huge risk factor of exposure.

People often express shame in meeting a partner online because it takes away from the traditional belief that love will come one’s way when it’s time. Online dating takes away that organic aspect — desperately searching for someone will only leave one’s spirit crushed by the reality of love in the world.

Now, people don’t have much of a choice if they wish to explore the dating world.

In the era of COVID-19 where social distancing has become the law and wearing masks hides everyone’s face, online dating is the best way to meet new people. According to theWashington Post, the pandemic helped people to better strike up conversations because everyone’s being afflicted by the same thing. It’s also provided people more time to socialize on their phones and interact on dating apps given that some people are working from home and going out less.

Maybe the traditional way of thinking about romantic relationships has changed and people have accepted modern interpretations of seeking out love, which entails using dating apps to meet new partners of interest. The freedom to go out to clubs and bars to dance and drink, interacting with new people and introducing oneself to those people has become restricted, or even eliminated, to some degree, especially for the people who aren’t willing to take the risk.

In most cases, the grounds on which a relationship is built is dependent upon the individuals within it. Say that one couple holds more traditional ideals on relationships and dating — they likely met in person because they didn’t seek out apps that formed their connection virtually. Perhaps they weren’t interested in pursuing a partner at all but happened upon each other and sparks flew, whereas someone who holds a more modern view of the dating world may accept that they’ll meet their partner online, especially during this pandemic. However, will they place as much value on that virtual connection with the person they matched with? 

In my own experience, dates with people I met online often felt forced and unnatural, and I lost interest early on. The weeks of talking before a date are helpful for nerves felt about meeting a stranger from the internet, but the conversations can drag on, leaving both people with less to talk about when it comes time to meet. The conversations leading up to a first date were helpful for me to draw a picture of this person in my head, and I often reminded myself to have little expectations because I didn’t want to date someone from the internet for a long time. I desired an organic relationship that presented me with an opportunity to love someone who I’d already made a deep connection with.

Everyone is unique in their relationship ideals. Plenty of people regard the ways that people meet as insignificant to their story, but some people, like me, place a lot of value on it. Whether or not it matters to someone how they meet their partner is the determinant of how their online relationship will pan out. If one believes that the story of how they met their partner is less important than the connection that drives the relationship, then it’s likely that the partnership will be successful, especially if both people feel the same way about it. 

Dating during quarantine is quite the risk that many people aren’t willing to take, and online dating makes it accessible. The only way to date during quarantine while also maintaining social distancing is to use online dating apps. 

According to PBS News Hour, online dating is now the No. 1 way to date people and start relationships in the U.S., and it’s peaked in popularity during the pandemic. However, its success is likely attributed to the disruption that social media has caused in daily social interactions, making people less open to discussion with strangers in-person, especially during quarantine. 

It’s my belief that online dating is less successful in producing and helping people establish long-term, deeply connected relationships. Organic chemistry is missing in that puzzle, and I find chemistry to be one of the most powerful and effective factors of a long, happy relationship. 

It’s absolutely normal to use online dating as the main way of getting oneself out there during this pandemic, but I believe its success is highly attributed to people’s forced involvement. Social distancing is a “cockblock” because people can’t establish deeply curated and historical moments of meeting and attraction, and they definitely cannot achieve this through online dating apps. 

When quarantine ends, people will likely begin to become desperate for personal human interaction and social atmospheres where one’s more prone to meeting new people. The main reason why people are all about dating through the internet is because it’s the only real way to meet people during quarantine without getting oneself sick by going out to a party or a crowded bar. People are using Tinder and Hinge because their options are limited beyond that, but virtual dating will become less attractive to people who desire social experiences, which will include most who’s been afflicted by this quarantine. 

Being closed off from society for so long and limited in interactions has hopefully made people more appreciative of social opportunities. It’s true what they say — absence really does make the heart grow fonder. 

Madison Roach is a senior WRTC major. Contact Madison at roachma@dukes.jmu.edu.