(LA Trend) — Ten months into the pandemic, there isn’t one area of life that coronavirus hasn’t touched. One of the more unexpected consequences of social distancing is how it has impacted the dating scene. With the passing of Valentine’s Day, relationships, or lack thereof, are on many people’s minds.
“Valentine’s Day is one of our busiest times,” said Jeff Finegold, the Regional Manager of the dating service, It’s Just Lunch. “Pandemic or no people are still interested in connecting. The urgency is really the only thing that I would say increased. People definitely have realized that life is precious and they aren’t wanting to delay changing their single life.”
It’s no surprise that many singles turn to dating apps. According to the most recent data from Pew Research Center, 30 percent of U.S. adults have used a dating app and twelve percent have found a long-term partner through an app.
Still, others prefer a more curated experience and turn to matchmaking or dating services.
“Back in March, we weren’t sure how the pandemic was going to affect matchmaking and dating, but over the past year we’ve really seen so many incredible connections forming,” said Heather Noman, a Matchmaker at Three Day Rule Matchmaking. “We’ve been busier than ever. We had another engagement last weekend, they were introduced during the pandemic. So many couples quarantining together, getting married or an exclusive relationship and actually seeing a lot of really positive trends with dating during that time.”
Finegold says It’s Just Lunch has also seen a huge increase in business since March and that many clients who previously started the application process have now rekindled their desire in finding a match.
“I would definitely say the positive is that the excuse of ‘I’m too busy to date’ is gone. Most people are eager to meet somebody right now and have really thought about what they prioritize in life. And it’s actually a great time to connect with singles you normally wouldn’t meet in everyday life,” Finegold said. “People are putting in almost more effort out because there’s less to do. There’s more time on our hands.”
Noman says that the pace of life during the pandemic has allowed people to really examine their needs and think about what they value in a partner.
Still, some things never change. As expected, Angelenos are interested in matches who live a healthy, active life and are “growth-minded” or interested in personal development. In the last few years, political views have been dealbreakers for those on both sides of the aisle, according to Noman.
While most people are looking for singles on their side of the 405, Noman says more people seem to be more open to matches in different cities.
“I think long-distance relationships are becoming a little easier as well because people have the opportunity to work from a variety of places. I definitely do see a future trend of less location-dependence and more openness to matches in other areas.”
No matter the geographic location of a match, nearly all dating has gone virtual. In Los Angeles, meeting up in-person is off the table due to the unprecedented post-holiday surge in COVID cases but that doesn’t mean dates are impossible. Just as the workplace turned virtual, dating, at least at the early stages, has undergone a similar transformation.
Finegold recommends that people get creative with their online date ideas. Couples can safely share a meal by ordering each other dinner and dining over zoom, taking an online class together, watching a movie in real-time, or simply video calling. Many of these date ideas also work for couples in a long-distance relationship.
Nooman suggests that couples take turns planning fun, meaningful activities that can be done virtually. She points to the New York Times 36 questions that lead to love as a great conversation starter.
“Building connection personally is really about having shared experiences and being genuine and open and sharing and showcasing things that really help who you are and what your values are,” Noman said. “As the relationship progresses, I would actually suggest seeing your date in other settings. For example, doing a virtual game with friends or even a double-date over Zoom, can be really great to see how they interact with your friends and how they are in a different situation.”
Other tips for a successful video date sound a lot similar to a professional call; make sure you’re in a quiet place, don’t multitask, and check your internet connection.
“Make sure you’re dressed appropriately as if it was still an in-person date. Do make sure that you’re fully dressed,” Finegold said. “If you’re sitting in front of a plain wall, take a painting or a picture, put it back there, and give some life to your surroundings. Make that space for yourself. When it comes to a date, I think it’s even more important because those impressions make a significant difference.”
Noman adds that it’s important to create a separation between your zoom meeting person and your zoom date persona; show a little personality, drop the meeting agenda, and relax.
“We are all going to meetings all day long. When you’re switching to a date, it’s very important to switch mood and energy,” Nooman said. “I suggest maybe listening to the music, moving to a different, more cozy area of your home, light a candle, grab something special, and definitely do an outfit change.”
For those lucky enough to have met their match during the pandemic, Finegold says it’s important to get creative and stay connected until it becomes safer to meet in-person again. But, with L.A’s devastating positivity rate, it may be quite a few months before that can happen.
“Maintaining that connection face-to-face is most definitely ideal but that can absolutely be virtually. It can be a FaceTime or zoom or a Skype call,” Finegold said. Have fun with each other, share something you’re passionate about. It’s important to maintain those lines of communication.”
As for the longer-lasting effects on the pandemic, Noman predicts a return to a more courtly style of dating. This slower-paced relationship style is the complete opposite of the hookup culture that dating apps are so often blamed for perpetuating.
“It’s almost like dating slowed down a little bit, sort of like the old fashioned way of dating,” Noman said. “A lot of people really wanted to make dating a priority over the past year and they come into dating in a much more genuine and authentic way. I think that trend will really continue.”