Editorial | Valentine’s Day elucidates difficulty of COVID dating

For most, Valentine’s Day either represents a celebration of love with a partner or soul searching veiled by a swift attempt to secure a date for the big day.

But in the midst of a pandemic which has demanded social isolation, Valentine’s Day has become a somber reminder of the impact COVID-19 has had on the world of dating. Data has suggested the stress of the pandemic has placed a considerable strain on existing relationships, but among single folk, the dating world has become uprooted by the coronavirus.

Dating, in effect, like everything else, has become a mostly virtual venture. Dating apps like Tinder or Bumble have become invaluable tools to use as a precursor to any date, since the stakes are now higher for any live meet-up. They are also useful for simply meeting strangers, since most students are sheltered from contact with anyone outside a select few.

While dating apps help many find love and can help avoid wasting time, they aren’t a means for everyone.

Every component of a relationship has become complicated by the COVID-19 guidelines: the introduction, maintaining the relationship and even grieving breakups.

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Places one might meet someone new, like the library or one of many campus bars, are at limited capacity. Even then, most aren’t comfortable being approached by a stranger while everyone is supposed to observe social distancing.

This Valentine’s Day will unfortunately be a forced confrontation for many singles with the loneliness the ongoing pandemic has engendered and the agoraphobia it has welcomed. For couples, the cause for celebration will be a sobering reminder that most restaurants, mini-golf courses and movie theaters offer a fraction of the experience or are closed completely.

Don’t allow the holiday to pass as a melancholy day, turn it into a day of self-love or celebrate with a close friend group. Anything social and familiar might soothe the frustration of pandemic dating.

Many have considered the impacts of the pandemic on the economy and human psychology, but the difficulties in dating deserve recognition and validation for those struggling. One cannot simply get out for a night on the town to distract from the love blues, but with the vaccine being eagerly distributed, the light is at the end of the tunnel.

If you do plan a date in-person, make sure you respect their boundaries (just generally, but particularly so given everyone’s different comfort level during the COVID-19 crisis). Perhaps a conversation beforehand would provide insight on how to ensure each party is comfortable and not worried about spreading the virus.

Dating under normal circumstances is still not straightforward or easy, but the pandemic has made socializing with new people exceptionally difficult. Valentine’s Day may remind us of the extra obstacles present in our love lives, but it won’t be long before you can accidentally spill your drink on someone in a crowded bar and fall in love all over again.