Los Angeles-based digital producer Kelly Diamond went off dating apps even before coronavirus turned into a full-blown pandemic. The 29-year-old was on Bumble, Hinge, the League and Raya.
She logged back onto Bumble during California’s shelter-in-place order and found plenty of men who urged her to “be bad and break social distancing for a cuddle,” she said. It was enough to keep her from jumping back into the dating pool.
“We’re in a pandemic. Absolutely not,” she told one prospect.
“I know plenty of people who are desperate enough for human closeness to take those risks. I get it,” she wrote in a message. “But I'm not one of them. I haven't had a hug in two months but I'm also responsible and trying to keep our city safe the best I can.”
While many people have said they are having more meaningful conversations without physical interactions, meeting in real life eventually comes up, and with it, different interpretations of public health guidelines.
“It is a turnoff for many singles for the other party to suggest in person [meetups] because this is such a polarizing time,” Los Angeles matchmaker Jennifer Jacobs wrote in an email. “It either means they have very different views at best or have no regard for the health and safety of their date or others around them at worst.”
“Very few singles we know are meeting strangers in person even after virtual dating because they don’t want to take the chance at being exposed or exposing their loved ones, but a physically distant walk with masks is an option,” Jacobs, who specializes in setting up Jewish singles who are looking for serious relationships, said.
Tinder has recommended that its users wear masks, hold off on touching and continue to practice social distancing, according to a company spokesperson. And of course, to bring hand sanitizer and avoid crowded places.
Gabriella Aratow, a dating coach and matchmaker just outside Aspen, Colo., is herself single. She said she finds a lot of upside in dating during the pandemic; her matches on Bumble have led to longer and more meaningful conversations lately.
Divisions over social distancing behavior are affecting her clients, who are mostly in Los Angeles, New York, Denver, Seattle and Chicago.
“I’ve heard stories where one wants to hop into bed and the other doesn’t want to have someone in their home or vise versa,” Aratow said. “Someone thought the other had been quarantined and invited him over, but then canceled when she found out he had gone on a trip with friends.”
Maisie Wilhelm had coronavirus in March. For about five weeks, the New Yorker was stuck indoors sick and then recovering from the virus. She got back onto dating apps after a hiatus.
Since then, she’s had video dates on Bumble and even had several “stoop dates” at her home in Brooklyn. She brings down some snacks on separate plates and wine with picnic settings and she and her date sat six feet apart while chatting.
That Wilhelm has already been sick and tested positive for antibodies makes her more confident about meeting people, she said. She even changed her dating profile to note the results of her test. Some of her dates also say they have them, offering proof by way of images of reports from a doctor’s visit.
Health experts have warned that antibody testing, which can show the presence of antibodies in the blood that suggest someone has been exposed to the virus, has been plagued with false positives and false negatives and should not be relied on.
“I’m much less concerned with my own safety even though we don’t have proof I can’t get reinfected,” Wilhelm, who is in her mid-30s, said.
She recently saw a guy who clearly “had a much higher level of risk, seeing friends, visiting his buddy,” she said.
In her job in crisis management for World Central Kitchen in New York City, she is in constant contact with people, organizing meals for essential workers, including nurses who are exposed to pathogens, she said, and has not gotten sick again.
Dating in this new era “is not rocket science,” she says. “Stay six feet apart, wear a mask and don’t touch your face.”