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We are now forever changed as humans when it comes to what we have experienced thus far in this COVID- 19 era. No matter what our political affiliation, we can all agree that this forced pause has allowed us to reevaluate our everyday lives in different ways.
It stands to reason that gay dating has also been affected, and you may see some changes that will either scare or excite you. Let me raise five ways that the quarantine may have altered your dating outlook.
Now that grabbing a casual drink after work has stopped being an easy option, I think a lot of individuals will invest more time on first dates. The question “Are you comfortable with [insert activity]?” will now be more of a norm when setting up a place for a first meeting.
Coming out of quarantine, most gay men will crave a need for safe physical interactions away from a digital platform. I read that human connection not only increases the quality, but also the longevity of life.
Before the quarantine, the thought of taking a long hike with someone may have smacked of too much commitment. I think that a lot of people today would think that, even if the hiking date was a bit of a dud, at least you were outdoors and doing something active for the day.
The pandemic has taken convenience away from us for the time being, making engaging with people more difficult. That means that people are coming up with more clever ways of meeting, whether it’s via web conference or standing six feet apart on the front porch to chat.
I have been studying dating app behavior during quarantine, and it’s been interesting to see the changes. A few major dating apps reported experiencing an increase in messaging around 20% or more. Additionally, 37% of American singles surveyed said they have reached out to an ex during this time (Facebook was the top method of reaching out). Of those individuals who reached out to an ex, 50% said they reignited with their old flame. I can vouch that I personally heard this from four of my close friends.
In my humble opinion, familiarity outweighs an old standard. The bottom line is that people are craving a sense of community outside of their family members and best friends.
A lot of dating apps have offered free membership access ,introduced features that expand ways to geographically connect with others, and lifted certain filtering preferences. For one dating app, there was an 84% increase in voice calls and video chats compared to calling activity two weeks earlier during quarantine.
This is the future, folks, and it is here to stay. We normally don’t ever pick up the phone anymore, but maybe you’ll leave a video message instead to get a more accurate energy read on your potential date.
I can only speak for myself when I say that being in quarantine has taught me to be more still. Balancing my timing and schedule was a huge stress on my emotional well-being before the COVID-19 pandemic. I think a lot of gay men will see the distinct power in being more in solitude and doing fewer things.
For me, the point of going out with a group of close friends is a comfortable, communal thing. I love sharing food, giving hugs, and picking out a cool new bar to mosey to after our meal.
Unfortunately, our mindset has completely shifted. We may be worried about getting a required reservation, using the bathroom during dinner, being tensely greeted by our fully masked and gloved waiter, and worrying about our friend who may or may not have washed his or her hands recently.
I think, for a while, we’ll continue to find community by doing fewer things that involve spending money on nightlife activities. We’ll turn to things that are virtual or something like smaller group game nights, dinner parties, or outdoor recreational gatherings.
I can’t tell you how much I’ve learned about myself by reading, studying for a new certification, and taking time to enjoy nature without so much mental noise. Most gay guys want a partner who has a good balance of thriving in their own independence and external entertainment.
A friend of mine compared his recent dwindling of his friend circle during quarantine to the solar system. You are Earth. Your super close family and friends are the moon. There’s no Earth without the moon, and there’s no moon without the Earth. They need each other. That connection won’t be broken.
Your Venus friends, the people you see from time to time and maybe check in on infrequently, will make the cut. Your Mercury friends, well, they will be burned up by the sun.
Additionally, I was reading an article about someone’s stance on people checking in on their tribe during quarantine. The author said they see this as very narcissistic. I think your true friends will always check in on you in some capacity, but in their own rhythm. The expectation will always be there, and you’ll always feel accounted for naturally.
In terms of dating, I think singles going out for drinks and hoping to get lucky may not be as successful. I think what will become more successful for singles will be looking to their true friend and family circle to play matchmaker.
Nearly one-third of American people in the study I mentioned earlier reported going on virtual dates during quarantine.
When I was actively single, I remember scheduling became an issue for me with a couple of guys, so we decided to exchange numbers and video chat instead. I will forever be grateful for that experience because, although both guys were attractive to me, there was no mutual chemistry whatsoever. I’m so glad I didn’t waste time rushing across town to park and grab a drink when things could have been settled in a 15-minute conversation.
My hypothesis is that this trend of first-meeting indifference will yield to something more noncommittal. I don’t see this as tainting the old-fashioned virtues of dating, but I see it as being pragmatic and understanding at both ends.
This pandemic has been a bizarre time for most people, but it’s led many to take the unknown or unexpected and turn it into something manageable. As an optimist, I always think that one can turn something challenging into a positive.
Things (hopefully) won’t be like this for forever, but this COVID-19 life is our opportunity to make getting to know someone a priority when obstacles are thrown our way.