How The Pandemic Has Changed The Way We Date

It's safe to say that the world of dating has changed drastically since the COVID-19 pandemic first erupted. Several years down the line and the virus is still producing a lingering effect on the love lives of many. In the aftermath of the lockdown period, a lot of individuals felt a need for deep human connection. "This pandemic population of singles is looking past small talk and wants to find someone to lockdown with in their personal lives," said Helen Fisher, chief scientific advisor of dating site (via Rutgers Today). "They are looking for committed relationships."


But knowing what you are looking for is one thing, and actually finding it is another one entirely. And while some people have had luck finding committed relationships during the pandemic, a Pew Research Center study reported that 63% of single adults looking for relationships find dating to be harder than it was pre-pandemic. This could be because trying times seem to make more and more people begin to reflect on what it is that they really want out of life. Whether that's a serious relationship or more time to enjoy their singledom, the direness of the pandemic gives people so much to think about.

But exactly how significant of an impact has the coronavirus pandemic had on dating and relationship trends? Keep reading to find out.


The use of dating apps has skyrocketed

Long, long ago, in the far-off land of the 1990s, there was a stigma surrounding online dating. Back before the internet became the dominating social-connecting force that it is today, meeting people through the internet was pretty much regarded as a last resort for people who couldn't score dates in real life. Nowadays, according to a recent study by Stanford University, the most popular way couples in the U.S. are meeting is online. And with the surge of dating apps such as Hinge, Tinder, Bumble, and OkCupid, gone are the days when the only way to score a potential date was through chatting up strangers at local bars with cheesy pickup lines.


A plus side of dating apps is that while you can scope out whether or not you're physically attracted to a person based on their pictures, you can also learn whether you share the same values as well. Online dating services such as Bumble will let you know exactly what the other person is looking for in terms of dating, such as whether or not they plan on getting married, and if they eventually will want kids. And according to a study reported by Psychology Today, one of the most important elements of a successful partnership is sharing similar core values with your partner. If you stumble across someone who has opposing values from you, all you have to do is swipe left.

People prefer dating through FaceTime vs. IRL

During the coronavirus pandemic, in order to follow social distance precautions and practice safety measures, people were turning to virtual communication platforms like FaceTime and Zoom to go on video dates. Gone were the days of meeting at fancy restaurants and museums.


While the idea of a video date may seem a bit strange at first (and let's face it, a bit un-romantic,) it is a nice way to potentially see a more authentic version of someone who isn't all blinged out and acting extra proper for date night. Through video dating, the dynamic tends to be a lot more casual and relaxed, which can take off a lot of the pressure that one might experience in a fancier setting.

According to a study, 71% of singles say video chatting helped determine if they wanted to meet up in person. In fact, research backs up the theory that video chatting before going on an IRL date can, in some cases, improve the chances of a future for the couple (via Journal of Interactive Marketing). This is in part due to the fact that you can get a good sense of whether or not there's chemistry right off the bat. And when it comes to feeling that spark, 78% of singles report feeling romantic chemistry during a video date and 34% believe it's possible to fall in love over a video date (via


The number of break-ups and divorces has spiked

Unfortunately, there were couples who split up during the coronavirus pandemic. This was likely due to the fact that during lockdown, significant others and spouses were being forced to spend more time with each other than they were used to. One study reported by MIT Technology Review suggests that distance might be the key to maintaining passion in a long-term relationship. The old saying that "distance makes the heart grow fonder" is surprisingly accurate, it seems. Similarly, the "scarcity principle" suggests that things that are scarce have more value than things that are more "common and abundant" (via Explore Psychology) The same theory can apply to our romantic interests as well. When someone is too available, they can become less valuable, as the theory suggests.


The majority of divorces that were initiated during the pandemic were done so primarily by women, according to divorce lawyer Carly Kinch (via BBC). She suggested it stemmed from a lack of support from their spouses with domestic chores. "I think some people went into lockdown thinking: 'Oh, isn't this going to be lovely! We're going to spend lots of quality time together. And my partner, who's normally in the city or commuting – they'll be around and they'll help more," she said. "And I think the reality for many has been a far cry from that." 

People find dating harder than ever

Let's face it, dating has never been an effortless endeavor. But adding a global pandemic into the mix doesn't exactly make finding that special someone any easier. If you are single and are ready to mingle, but are not allowed to, how are you supposed to meet the love of your life? As previously mentioned, 63% of people say dating has become more challenging since the coronavirus pandemic began, according to a study reported by Pew Research Center. And with negative dating trends like ghosting, roaching, and zombieing becoming more common, it's easy to see why.


For many individuals, the trials and tribulations brought on by the pandemic (such as the death of loved ones from the virus) also take a big toll on mental health. It's hard to be our best selves in the dating world when we're internally suffering. "I know for me, it seemed like one extremely stressful and traumatic event after another with no let-up," dating coach Matthew Solomon said to Verywellmind. "When it comes to dating, it can be hard enough to show up fully present and as your best self without any of these external factors. Navigating meeting someone new and having immediate emotional needs that require tending to makes all of this more challenging." 

People are moving in together much faster

During the early stages of the pandemic, many couples moved in with each other for the sole purpose of quarantining together during lockdown, deciding it was better to couple up than to social distance. Unfortunately, some romantic duos weren't at the stage of their relationship where they were ready to live with one another. According to a study reported by Pew Research Center, most people of the millennial generation are waiting much longer than previous generations to settle down with their partners. Because of this, the concept of couples moving in together before they're ready can be daunting and create pressure within relationships.


But as Metro reports, many "lockdown couples" have found great success by moving at a faster pace than they would have had we not been in quarantine. In fact, one couple that moved in together faster than they would have under different circumstances noticed a massive improvement in mental health since coupling up. Caris Parr, a woman who found herself in a "lockdown relationship" shared her personal experience, saying, "If you'd asked me before, I'd have said, 'No way would I move in with someone so quick'," she revealed to the outlet. "But I just feel like when you know something is right, it just feels right."

Vaccination status matters among singles

A big key to a successful relationship is sharing similar values with your partner (per Psychology Today.) If you don't discuss deal breakers early on about core issues such as politics, religion, parenting styles, etc., it can be extremely difficult for your relationship in the long run. Unsurprisingly, one of the most divisive subjects of this day and age involves matters of the coronavirus pandemic. While some people take COVID-19 incredibly seriously and have altered their entire lives to abide by the safety measures implemented, others see the virus as a hoax.


2022 metrics reported by COVID Data Tracker reveal that 67% of people in the U.S. are fully vaccinated. According to sociologist Dr. Arielle Kuperberg, a study involving college students indicated that it is a huge deal breaker if their partner isn't fully vaccinated (via UNCG News). "I think what's causing this is a lot of people have very strong feelings about COVID-related things, like how cautious they are, the amount of risk they are willing to take, vaccines, masks, and so on," she said. "If your partner is not on the same page, that can cause irrevocable damage to relationships — even relationships that were strong before the pandemic."

Sex is less prioritized

Due to the endless stress brought on by the pandemic, sex between couples is much less prioritized than it once was. According to Today, although studies show that people want to feel a deep social connection now more than ever before, a survey by the Kinsey Institute revealed that at least half of the couples who participated have experienced a serious decline in their sex lives.


But stress isn't the only culprit at play here for the decline in intimacy between couples. A lot of it has to do with the nature of being in lockdown, with couples being unable to escape each other. "There's no space from our partner and spaces are often what creates that desire and eroticism," said Isharna Walsh, founder and CEO of dating app Coral, to Yahoo! Life. "We don't get to see our partner from afar in this current context. So a lot of people are struggling with desire." Pew Research Center indicates that 59% of people who have jobs that allow them to work remotely are doing so. And with many of us spending more time at home together, it can, unfortunately, lead to a lack of desire in the bedroom.


Dating lives have improved for some

Although there are numerous pitfalls when it comes to finding romance in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, there are also studies indicating that this trying time has greatly improved dating lives fro some. According to Dr. Helen Fisher, chief science advisor of, relationships are becoming more intimate and personal than ever before. "This pandemic has led to more conversations, on all of the dating sites actually, more meaningful conversations, more self-disclosure, more intimacy (and) less anxiety about sex and money," she told Today.


Furthermore, there is something to be said about partnering up during the midst of a scary time period where nothing is certain. Some studies indicate that experiencing shared trauma with another person can lead to deeper intimacy and understanding of one another. "Our findings show that pain is a particularly powerful ingredient in producing bonding and cooperation between those who share painful experiences," psychological scientist Brock Bastian told Association for Psychological Science. Because many of us are going through turmoil amid the pandemic, it makes sense that we are clinging onto our partners in a way that we might not have otherwise.

Casual dating is on the decline

Due to the life-threatening COVID-19 virus, many of us have been under the impression that there's no time to waste in these life-or-death circumstances. Our priorities have shifted, and a lot of us are beginning to concentrate on the long hall in a way that we simply hadn't prior to the pandemic. Due to the lack of socialization we experienced during the lockdown, some individuals desperately want to make up for lost time by partnering up more speedily than they might have before the pandemic. The main priority for many of us post-lockdown is to fulfill that starvation for human interaction. Even if that means jumping into a committed relationship before considering the potential consequences.


"Some people moved up their timelines on moving in together or marriage because they either needed social interaction or because they were just uncertain about the future and wanted to make that commitment now," sociologist Arielle Kuperberg said in an interview with UNCG News. "I think facing this kind of weird, life-or-death situation where you're in survival mode could also make you cling to the people around you — even if they aren't the best fit for a long-term relationship, they are what you need for social survival at this moment."

Hookup culture might skyrocket soon

It's safe to say that a lot of people have experienced FOMO or "fear of missing out" over the past few years as the world shut down due to the pandemic. Although there has been a rise in people jumping into serious relationships, alternatively, there may be a shift toward more casual romantic endeavors once the pandemic fully calms down.


The shift toward a more reckless party-centric way of life would be a historically accurate response to all of that time we were forced to stay inside. We saw the same trend during the Roaring '20s. "People would dress up, go to a dance hall, drink illegally, and hook up with people," sociologist Arielle Kuperberg told UNCG News. "That was really the start of hookup culture — it was in response to the Spanish flu pandemic where everything was shut down and everyone was locked in for two years. So, we could potentially have our own version of a post-pandemic 'Roaring '20s.'"