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The COVID-19 pandemic changed a lot; those in the dating game were forced to date virtually and I found, for myself, behaviours changed again when reverting back to in-person dates. Virtual dating was tough at the time. However, it made me explore the fun in situationships — casual, informal and typically short-term relationships — and to relax while dating.

While the pandemic was difficult, it made us more grateful when returning to date in person. 

Difficulty dating in the virtual space

The COVID-19-induced change — from being able to date people and spend time together in person, to only being able to interact from distance — was a difficult adjustment. For me, it was so difficult that I had to end things with the person I was dating within the first few months of lockdown. 

I learned how difficult it was going to be to explore the virtual space in hope of a relationship, since I have never had any interest in online or long-distance dating. I have only been interested in meeting people the old-fashioned way: meeting in a public place, striking up a conversation and, if I liked them, asking them out. 

To this day, I have never used any online dating websites, even while the strictest COVID-19-related protocols were in place. Instead, I talked to people I wouldn’t normally talk to on Snapchat and ended up liking them, but things didn’t work out the way I had hoped. 

I realized I had trouble expressing myself through text or online. Even with friends, I found it difficult to keep up with conversations since I was so tired of it. I hated that my only method of communication was through texting and calling. I just wanted to be there with these people in real life. Same with my dates.

Instead, I pursued situationships rather than romantic relationships. It was a difficult time; I no longer wanted to find a romantic partner during that time, I just wanted to have some fun. And trying to find those situationships online was difficult. There is a lot of trust that goes into committing to that online, especially since I always have fears of anything intimate finding its way out there.

Gratitude in modern dating

When the lockdowns ended and we could again see our friends, I was ecstatic. I found myself going out more to bars and clubs, where I talked to women. It wasn’t always a success, but I never did anything like that before the pandemic. 

I was excited just to be able to date again to talk with live people, not through a screen. I also found people were super friendly when the lockdown ended. I found it easy to talk to girls since they too missed the dating scene. 

I knew they felt the same frustration I discovered during the lockdown — the difficulty with socializing and dating online — and how wonderful it was to finally have fun with people right beside you.

Friends to lovers

Online dating was tough for me, but also for others, especially since you cannot do things such as go out to a fancy restaurant or go for a romantic walk. Instead of focusing too heavily on my dating life, I worked on making sure my friendships were still stable. I started reaching out to friends who I wasn’t very close with at the time. 

I eventually fell for one of them after the pandemic ended. I realized how easy dating friends became during the pandemic since a lot of us were still wary of COVID-19 — so we stayed within our friend groups instead of socializing outside of them. This happened to me when I started spending a lot of time with the same group of people and, eventually, the two of us developed a crush on each other. At this time I was feeling drained from situationships. I wanted to really connect and date someone, which I realized would be with a friend. 

In a way, the pandemic did divide us and made us more isolated from each other even when things opened up. But I saw the opposite as well, I felt more grateful for the people I dated during and after the pandemic, and I saw that gratitude in other people too. I think we needed the lockdown to happen to stop taking for granted the time spent with one another. 

Photo: Josh Hild/Unsplash


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