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What dating during coronavirus looks like for young people

This virus sucks. New Orleans is currently half panicking about our eight presumed cases of COVID-19, and public everything has been canceled for the foreseeable future. The situation’s even more dire in more densely populated cities. The combination of isolation and public health anxiety has been making single people feel a lot more lonely, lately. For people not in relationships, It would be nice to have someone to survive the apocalypse with. But meeting someone new right now — let alone making out with a hot stranger outside a bar — sounds, frankly, terrifying. It’s easier to figure out whether a potential date has a criminal record than it is to be sure they regularly wash their hands. I spoke with other single millennials around the globe about how they’re dealing with dating during the coronavirus pandemic.

“I have no desire to make out with anyone, but I still want to talk to people,” Simona Marmina, a 33-year-old media buyer in NYC tells Mic. She opened Hinge last night for the first time in a while to find a message. “He asked me what I was doing this weekend and I said, ‘I’m staying home and washing my hands every 20 minutes, how about you?’” Marmina was joking, but only kind of. She tells me that her family in Italy is on total lockdown and being a witness to their experience is changing the way she responds to the coronavirus crisis.

Marmina’s family in Italy is thankfully okay and she’s been able to talk to them daily, but she feels like a lot of Americans aren’t taking coronavirus seriously enough. “I see a lot of selfishness,” Simona says. “I could have COVID and not know about it and the risk of spreading it to others is too big,” she says. Marmina tells me she’s staying home until the crisis is averted. She said she would consider a FaceTime date, but that’s about all. She’s not in a rush; her eggs, she informed me, would not rot any faster during the next couple of weeks on no-new-nookie lockdown.

“As dating anxieties go, being infected with the coronavirus is down at the very bottom of my list.”

Eva, a 24-year-old director in Dublin who prefers not to use her full time, says that with all that’s going on in Ireland, dating isn’t really a priority, but that she is also finding herself looking online a bit more to help assuage some of the loneliness that comes with isolation.

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“I wouldn't meet new people in person right now,” Eva tells Mic. “Only people I already know. I guess that has to do with trust.” She says that dating apps have helped her continue to make connections. “I think a lot of people are using COVID as an excuse in a way,” she says. “There’s shame around being lonely for a lot of people.” It might be easier, or more socially acceptable, to admit to feeling lonely when there’s a genuine pandemic, Eva adds.

“I mean if i had the option between some internet intimacy or no global COVID, I would obviously choose the latter,” she says. Most of the folks I talked to said that the coronavirus crisis is affecting their feelings of isolation, but that it’s not a major obstacle in dating. “As dating anxieties go, being infected with the coronavirus is down at the very bottom of my list,” John Cockrell, a marketing writer in Chicago, tells Mic. “Coronavirus is probably just above ‘learning after we’ve had sex that we’re actually distant cousins,’” he quips. “I think it will only affect plan-making — including how to home-cook a meal when grocery shelves are completely picked over.”

Some folx said that they hadn’t consciously thought about how COVID is affecting the way they date, but that it might be subconsciously altering their hookup behavior. “I’ve withdrawn to basically window shopping on Tinder in the last few weeks, so maybe I have started self-selecting down,” Andrew Maynard, an aerospace engineer in Annapolis tells me. But Maynard says that he would still be open to meeting someone amazing, and that he wouldn’t taking longer on the front end than usual, which is new. “Usually I want to get face-to-face pretty quickly to see if there’s chemistry, but I think now I would be more open to a FaceTime date.” Maynard is one of the brave ones though: “I wouldn’t miss the opportunity for a first kiss,” he says.

“Usually I want to get face-to-face pretty quickly to see if there’s chemistry, but I think now I would be more open to a FaceTime date.”

“I think I'm still in the mood for meeting new people and dating,” Andrew Zachary, a gender non-conforming creative freelancer, 31, in New Orleans, tells me. But even folks who are still in the mood to meet are slightly more cautious than they used to be. “I think I will proceed cautiously,” Andrew said. Their attitude seems relaxed and humane. They said they’d be open to dating someone who’s sick, but they might want to reschedule a date. “Like if someone is actively sick, I'll probably keep physical distance from them right now, where in the past I've never really been much of a worrier about that.”

The truth is that dating is always scary. Coronavirus is amplifying our fears in many ways, but let’s not forget that as far as communicable diseases go, COVID is still one of the least likely to be a long-term issue for most young people. “I’m way more afraid of STDS than of COVID,” Dewitt Brinson, a poet in NYC, says. “And neither fear is gonna keep me out of the bedroom.”