Senior education major Lee Wilcox has had to adjust to a new romantic reality, she said.
Prior to stay-at-home orders, Wilcox was studying and working away from home, nearly all day and every day. Now, she stays at home alone while her boyfriend still works as a security guard.
‘I just sit around, I do homework, I do whatever I can just make the day go by, and then he gets here,” she said. “Then we just try mellowing out and trying to just, like, forget what’s going on because it’s just so much stress for us.”
The relationships and dating games have changed during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to recent usage reports by popular dating apps.
Instead of social distancing orders stalling romantic connections, they seem to have increased the desire for interactions more than ever, said Erika Kaplan, vice president of membership at Three Day Rule, a Philadelphia matchmaking service.
Singles are “actually seeking out connection more than they really ever have before,” Kaplan said.
On Sunday, March 29, dating app Tinder broke its own swipe records with more than 3 billion, according to a recent press release.
Apps like Tinder and Bumble have seen a rise in activity from users, according to recent reports. A recent press release stated that daily Tinder conversations have risen globally by 20% and have a 25% increase in length, while Bumble reported a 21% increase in messages sent since March 12, according to Mother Jones.
“The one-two punch of self isolation and business closures means we’re missing out on the everyday exchanges that make us human, from sharing a smile in Chem class to the chance to Netflix & Chill,” said Tinder in a recent press release.
Tayah Groat, a senior Spanish and education major, said she can understand why the numbers have soared.
“I think at this point maybe people were already tired of quarantining or finally understanding they have to do it and were feeling lonely,” said Groat. “Swiping is reaching out and self entertaining.”
Still, Groat found herself using the apps less. She used it primarily for entertainment but “not with the same vigor and wondrous possibility of actually meeting up, only in hopes of talking, until a later date,” she said.
At Three Day Rule, Kaplan works one-on-one with Philadelphian singles to find their perfect match. Due to social distancing and Gov. Tom Wolf’s order to shut down all non-essential businesses, the matchmaking service has had to switch from face-to-face sessions to virtual dating, Kaplan said.
“[Singles] are taking the time to slow down,” Kaplan said. “A lot of them are quarantined alone or quarantined with a roommate, and there’s never been a more formative time to realize how nice it would be to have at least emotional connection with someone right now.”
For anyone living in the virtual dating world of COVID, Kaplan has some suggestions.
“I know that we’re all working from home, and we’re all working in our pajamas and sweatpants, right? Nothing wrong with that,” Kaplan said. “But when you are going on a date, I think it’s important to continue to set the scenery and set the stage and set your intention for something romantic.”
For Wilcox and her boyfriend living together, dates have meant eating dinner, watching shows on Netflix, or escaping the house to do their favorite hobby of light painting, a form of photography method. This, Wilcox said, is the only activity that keeps them feeling sane.
“I think [we] just remember our whole relationship is based on a foundation of to remember that it’s not us against each other, like as cliche as it sounds, it’s the world trying to break us apart,” Wilcox said. “We just need to remember that this is just temporary.”
Kaplan also suggested tips like making sure your background is presentable during virtual dates, as well as avoiding the risk of oversharing if you have a first date, despite the uncertainty presented by the pandemic.
“Everyone has a little more time to focus on what’s actually been a priority for a long time, but now everyone is forced to slow down and take dating really seriously, which has been a nice turn of events,” Kaplan said. “And realize priorities a little bit and really, like, focus on themselves without all of the noise that the normal hustle and bustle of our lives causes.”