On March 4th, 2020, I received a text from a friend with a screenshot from a popular dating app that was making its way around the Internet. Instead of being of a picture of a potential match, it was a message from the app itself itself: “Your wellbeing is our #1 priority: [We are] a great place to meet new people. While we want you to continue to have fun, protecting yourself from the Coronavirus is more important.” At that time in New York, it was amusing and a bit of a joke – if an online dating app is telling you to stop meeting new people, things must be getting serious, no?
A week later, nothing about it was funny. I moved back to my parents’ house, and I haven’t been within six feet of another non-family member since. Meeting people and Jewish dating as it was known at the time has ended. Traditional online dating, getting to know new people over kiddush or at Shabbat meals, and casually getting coffee with a friend of a friend are now out of the question.
In the first of these blog series, a few people shared their experiences with and reflections on dating (or not) in the time of COVID-19. We’d love to hear your reactions and any experiences you might want to share with us to be published in our next post in this series! Please email firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line “Jewish Dating blog series,” a 3-5 sentence response. If you feel comfortable sharing, please include your gender and age.
Posts may have been edited for length and clarity.
** Social distancing sent me back to my family’s home – which is for the most part lovely. But my parents asking when I’m going to find someone to settle down with – normally something I can shrug off and ignore when I get asked it over the phone – is a lot harder to avoid when you live with them. Don’t they get how much more it stings nowadays knowing that there’s no way to really get to know, much less date, anyone for the foreseeable future?
** Trying to figure out if you like someone is confusing enough in person, but when you have never met them it’s a whole new level of confusing. I think this weird time helped me speak to someone I would never have spoken to under normal circumstances due to time differences and physical distances, so I feel glad I got to get to know them at all, but now I feel like, now what? How do we move forward if I can’t figure out if I like them as more than a friend? In real life we would hang out and I would see how I feel, but sending funny tweets we’ve seen back and forth doesn’t really help with that. I guess I’m learning what it feels like to try and figure out how to bridge an unbridgeable gap.
** When you’re not going on dates or meeting anyone anyway, there is really no difference between lack of activity from my couch or from a restaurant. Just an increase in loneliness.
** He and I had been vaguely talking about how if we needed to be quarantined, we could at least do it together. Then he ended us. All of my friends said the best way to get over a breakup was to surround yourself with people who love you, but days later, the social distancing and isolation began. A month later, I had an epiphany: had we not broken up exactly when we did, we would have isolated together, and that would have maximized the weight of the problems he was feeling, leaving us to crush under them, stuck in an apartment together. So I can’t yet say I feel grateful for what has happened, but I can say that I’m starting to feel okay.
** Like a lot of things in life lately, I have lost all motivation for dating. How long will this last? What if we never meet in person? It’s basically like going back to the 1800s when all you can do is write letters and wait.
**For me, dating hasn’t changed drastically. I’m transitioning my other social interactions with friends, family, and colleagues online, so it feels almost normal to do so for dating. Nor has meeting online prevented me from getting into big topics like religion and kids. The main difference is needing to be more creative to keep things fun: take a personality quiz together online, give each other virtual apartment tours, Netflix Party, play online board games, or just being alone together by keeping a video call on while hanging out in our apartments.
**I joined two or three of the Facebook groups meant to connect people during the pandemic, groups with names like “Creating Pandemic Shidduchim” or “Connecting CovidCuties.” My Facebook newsfeed alternates between posts of people searching for relationships online (a standard three pictures, a blurb about the person, and a cheesy pickup line) and New York Times articles displaying the climbing global infection rates. When my kids ask me what life was like for a millenial during 2020, I’m going to show them a screenshot of my Facebook page.
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