Love in the Time of Corona

Meet some intrepid people who dared to date during the pandemic.
corona love

Dating is hard. In a pandemic, it’s even harder: If you manage to find someone worth spending time with, when is it OK to meet in person, and what can you even do together? These five people were looking for love in the time of coronavirus, navigating the front lines of pandemic dating with as much caution as they had optimism. From interstate online dating and disappointing matchmaking to finding a connection while battling COVID-19, here’s a peek into the new normal of romance.

Marie Rossi

marie rossi love
Marie Rossi

While sick with COVID and quarantined at home, she met her now-boyfriend on a dating app.

Age: 32
Occupation: Internal medicine resident physician
Relationship status: In a relationship

What did your love life look like before the pandemic?
I was on dating apps and would go on a few dates here and there, but it’s difficult with residency because when we’re on inpatient rotation, we only get one day off per week. During my outpatient months, I’d use Hinge, Tinder and Bumble, but nothing serious came of it. I’d meet someone, talk to them for a month, and things would fizzle out.

How soon after the pandemic began did you feel comfortable to start dating?
I was working in the hospital in March and contracted COVID-19. I was out from work for a full monthI didn’t have to be hospitalized, but I did have to go to the emergency room at one point because my oxygen levels were getting low. While I quarantined at my house, I got on Tinder and Hinge out of boredom, and during that time, I met my current boyfriend. I told him right away, “I have COVID, so we won’t be meeting up any time soon.”

How much/often did you talk?
We talked and FaceTimed for a month before we saw each other. We would FaceTime for two or three hours a day, which I had never done in any relationship before.

What was it like to meet in person?
I tested negative twice, but I was still a little nervous, so we had a socially distanced date in my backyard. We sat six feet away from each other and just talked. He’s in paramedic school and works as an EMT, and he’s been deployed to help community facilities around the state, so we didn’t see each other again until the end of May. We actually didn’t spend time together seminormally until after we had already been talking for two months.

Did you talk to anyone else romantically during the pandemic?
I had messaged a couple of other people from the apps in the beginning, right before I got sick, but my boyfriend is the first person I actually talked on the phone with and went on a date with during the pandemic.

What are you most looking forward to being able to do with your significant other in a postpandemic world?
We both have large families and family is really important to us, so we’re really looking forward to being able to spend time with our extended families together.

Anthony Crawford

anthony crawford love
Anthony Crawford

He’s dating during the pandemic but keeping it as safe and simple as possible: If you won’t get tested, he won’t meet up.
Age: 22
Occupation: UPS package handler
Relationship status: Single

What did your love life look like before the pandemic?
I wasn’t in a relationship. I went on dates from time to time.

How soon after the pandemic began did you feel comfortable to start dating?
I started trying to talk to people around August. I wasn’t necessarily feeling comfortable with meeting people, but I was looking to talk to people and see if we had [similar views] on staying safe during the pandemic.

How did you meet people?
I met people on Twitter and Tinder, about three people. With two of them, it kind of fizzled out. We had different interests. With one woman, we talked for about a month before we met up.

How much/often did you talk?
We talked for a few hours every day.

What was it like to meet in person?
We both got tested right before we met, so we felt comfortable not distancing from each other in person. We met at a park and just went for a walk and talked, which was nice. We haven’t seen each other since then. We had a lot of different interests, so it just fizzled out.

What are your pandemic dating deal breakers?
I can’t deal with people who don’t take the pandemic seriously, so if they aren’t interested in getting tested, don’t believe in masks, or don’t believe in the virus.

What advice would you give other people trying to date during the pandemic?
Stay safe, seriously. It’s not a joke. You don’t want to hurt your friends or your family just because you want to have a little bit of fun.

What are you most looking forward to being able to do again with a date in a post-pandemic world?
I’m looking forward to going to fun places where there are other people, particularly movie theater dates or amusement park dates.

Nicole Schallig

nicole schallig love
Nicole Schallig

With two autoimmune conditions, she’s considered “high risk,” so she has had to get creative with socially distanced dating. (Also, she wants you to know that matchmaking sucks.)
Age: 43
Occupation: High school teacher
Relationship status: Single

What did your love life look like before the pandemic?
I broke up with someone last fall and was single for a few months. The online dating thing wasn’t really working for me, so I joined a matchmaking service in February.

How has the matchmaking service been so far?
Not great. I was matched with one person and essentially got ghosted. Part of the rules of this matchmaking service are that the gentleman is supposed to reach out to the woman first, so I waited a month and a half for a five-minute phone call that never came. I was matched with another person and waited more than two months for him to call, which still hasn’t happened.

Have you managed to talk to anyone from the service?
One guy. We met for coffee, and he came in his sweats. We talked for 20 minutes and there was no chemistry.

Have you tried any other forms of meeting people?
I’ve used Bumble, Hinge and OkCupid. Recently, I’ve also tried Facebook Dating. I’ve had five Zoom dates, which I really like doing. Before the pandemic, dating was a bigger investment of energy. I’d get dressed up to meet and have to drive and spend money just to find out if we had chemistry. With Zoom, I can be wherever I’m choosing to be and we can chat while reading each other’s faces and body language to see if that chemistry exists, but it isn’t the same investment as meeting in person.

What is the most surprising thing that has happened?
I’m shocked at how many people are still propositioning me for something very casual and physical during a pandemic. One person was in a committed polyamorous relationship, and I was just like, “I can’t meet you. I don’t know who your wife is dating. How can you possibly open your marriage right now?”

What’s the best socially distanced date that you’ve had?
We had been talking for a few weeks and he came over to meet me in my backyard. I made us two separate bowls of popcorn, he brought chocolate, and we projected a movie to watch together.

How has your dating criteria changed since the pandemic began?
Between the pandemic and the election, I used to be a little bit more open-minded toward people who have different views than I do, and I’ve kind of decreased [that open-mindedness]. I tend to stick toward liberal, college-educated people, which makes things easier. I’ve also raised my age criteria more and I’m talking to an older group than I used to in the past. I’m looking for guys in the low 50s, because many men my age (43) still want to have kids. I’m already a single mom and the sole provider for my household, so I can’t have another young child.

Maximillian Sullivan

Maximillian Sullivan love
Maximillian Sullivan

The pandemic created a lull in his work, so he finally had the time to ramp up his love life. But after a few missed connections, he’s still looking for a special someone.
Age: 29
Occupation: Personal trainer
Relationship status: Single

How did you meet people?
Instagram, Facebook and Tinder, with Tinder actually being the least used of the three. Instagram is [the easiest] to get a dialogue going and figure out whether we are interested in the same things, and just talking back and forth about story posts.

Are these random people on Instagram, like it would be on a dating app, or people who you know of?
Mostly randomspeople that follow me or that I follow. But in the gay community, everybody is a friend of a friend.

How many people have you found a romantic connection with so far?
Probably five people. It started with chatting and then that sometimes progressed to video chatting. I met three of those men for an outdoor coffee date.

What kind of safety precautions did you take?
I get tested for COVID pretty regularly; I’ve been tested six times. I talked to people for a week or two before meeting outdoors. I was comfortable meeting because we had been taking similar precautions.

Did you hit it off with any of the people that you met?
With one person, it just wasn’t a match. With the other two guys, we dated for one month each. There was no overlapping; I was seeing one person at a time. Nothing became long term.

What have you learned from dating during the pandemic? Because of the pandemic, things moved a little bit more quickly since a lot of our typical social interactions were removed. We were basically the most interesting thing going on in each other’s lives at the moment. One characteristic that became apparent is that sometimes people think they want to date, but really they want to be soothed because they are not selfsoothing. So they just want someone to be there for them, but they don’t actually want to be in a relationship.

Have you noticed any differences between pre-pandemic dating and now? Elitism is a little bit more apparent during this time because there are so many serious issues being discussed by so many people. I’ve noticed people speaking negatively of people who are less fortunate than they are, or unknowingly making judgments about people doing what they can with what they have. It has been really apparent.

What are you most looking forward to being able to do on a date in a post-pandemic world? I like kisses! So I would like to be able to kiss my dates. I like physical touch and holding hands, and that isn’t really something you can do right now. Right now, instead of focusing on the moment or thinking about what they smell like, you’re actively turning away and counting in your head, like, “OK, I touched this person,” for contacttracing purposes. It adds another level of self-preservation to dating, so I’m excited about not worrying about physical interaction.

Lili Koponen

lili koponen love
Lili Koponen

She met her perfect match on a streaming app during the pandemic. The only catch: He lives in Georgia.
Age: 33
Occupation: IT trainer
Relationship status: In a relationship

What’s the weirdest thing about pandemic dating? People that I dated in the past have been popping out of the woodwork, like, “Hi!” For most people, we ended on good terms, but there are a few people where we went on one date and we didn’t have good energy who are also messaging me, and I’m like, “No! Why?!” If we were not going to date when I wasn’t risking my life to see you, we are definitely not going to date now.

What lesson did you learn from this experience? The importance of video chatting. I was talking to someone online before I met my boyfriend at the beginning of the pandemic and we were vibing, but then we had a video chat and it was really awkward and bad.

How did you meet your boyfriend? I met him through a streaming app called Likee. We both host and go live. We’re both dancers, and he found me first. For one of my lives, I was just playing music and dancing, and he was watching for a while. Then I picked a song, I think it was “No Guidance” by Drake and Chris Brown, and watched him do a freestyle [dance]. I thought he was pretty good. We started talking on the app and getting to know each other, and after about a week, we started exploring more of a romantic relationship. The other thing is that he actually lives in Georgia! But since dating during quarantine was virtual anyway, it was worth exploring.

How often did you talk? On a day that we didn’t talk much, we talked for an hour and a half. We’ve talked for 10 hours in one day before.

Did you meet in person? Yes. He came to visit for 10 days. Before he came to visit, I wouldn’t have called him my boyfriend, but after his visit, I definitely feel comfortable saying that now.

Given that he was traveling across states, what made that risk feel OK for youHe got tested right before he came. I had gotten tested a bit before then as well.

What’s next for the two of you? He has plans to move from Georgia to California. He actually got a job offer and is going to be training for that. He is going to be moving an hour and a half away, so still somewhat long distance, but more manageable.