Dating in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic can be challenging, but for these Long Beach State students, virtual relationships are their new normal.
“I downloaded dating apps after I graduated high school, but I never really formed a lasting relationship there until last summer,” Jason Turk said, a fourth-year film major. “It felt very strange because all you really have to decide if you want to start dating this person or not is just like the image of them.”
Like Turk, many other students engaged in online dating apps to meet people with similar interests and hobbies. For some, their initial interest was sparked by boredom. The coronavirus pandemic caused many to be stuck at home with little to do.
Cassandra Hormozi, third-year political science major, said she joined dating apps because she wanted to meet friends.
The biggest challenge for students was their inability to formally meet upon matching. While some individuals are less inclined to follow city protocols, others like Hormozi are taking health guidelines seriously to ensure everyone’s safety.
“A lot of [people on dating apps] wouldn’t understand how comfortable I would feel about going out,” Hormozi said. “It was more like, ‘Hey I just want to text you, call you, talk to you.’ It just felt a little pushy when they wanted to hang out and they wouldn’t respect that I didn’t.”
Turk met his current girlfriend on Bumble last summer at the start of quarantine. While circumstances have not been ideal, their relationship has succeeded in surviving the majority of a global pandemic.
“We talked about them like they were dates but they kind of were like we called each other at night just to check in with each other and FaceTimed and we did that for a couple of weeks before we decided to meet in person,” Turk said. “And even when meeting in person, we were still being safe and we were wearing masks and stuff because neither of us had gotten tested.”
Evelyn Scarfe, a first-year marine biology major, met her boyfriend through Tinder in mid-June of 2020. The two moved over to Snapchat and eventually exchanged phone numbers. This success came as a surprise to Scarfe who said she didn’t expect to meet anyone in-person from the app.
“We kind of have a routine,” Scarfe said. “We FaceTime every single night, sometimes during the day. We did not meet for about three months because he lives in Kentucky, so I knew him pretty well by the time we met.”
While these dating apps have helped individuals like Turk and Scarfe find their current partners, it has been more difficult for others to have the same success, because many other dating app users aren’t looking for relationships.
“There is an unsettling feeling that you don’t know if the person you are dating is on the same wavelength as you, in terms of what they want out of the relationship because some people date more casually than others,” Turk said. “It’s hard to bring up that conversation.”
There is always a risk in meeting new people. With social media, it is common for people to lie about their identity or express themselves differently.
But amid the coronavirus pandemic, there is also a lot of planning involved to maintain a long distance relationship, according to Turk.
“I always make sure the day before, ‘Okay we are going to call tomorrow and what time can work,'” Turk said. “I never want to be intruding on her and she never wants to be intruding on me. You have to commit more to making time for each other.