“Let’s Date,” But the Pandemic Said “No.”

Dating and Hookup Culture during COVID-19

By: Sydney Fiorentino

We are coming up on the one year anniversary of COVID-19, and social distancing and lockdown periods continue to bolster our crave for physical touch. Whether you want to be hugged by a grandparent, high-fived by a stranger, or kissed by your significant other, social distancing restricts any means of meaningful physical contact. Like most of us, I have become hyper-aware of who I see, where I go, and who I come in close contact with as I live with my parents and fear passing them the virus. I’ve definitely craved a hug from friends, wanted to go on a date with someone, or desired seeing my at-the-time boyfriend plenty of times. With COVID still reeking havoc on the world, there are still ways to meet new people or see your significant other in a safe way.

While it is important to follow public health guidelines, no one is physically stopping you from seeing people. Let’s be honest, most teens have seen their friends or come into contact with others: full isolation for an entire year is nearly impossible. Hookup culture and dating life still exists regardless of the pandemic. However, it exists in a different way. For instance, one can no longer go out to restaurants or parties to meet potential partners. Dating has been limited to outdoor activities, more difficult for those living in colder climates. COVID-19 has forced us to become creative with dating; going on walks, adventuring to look-out points, and a good old park date seem to be the most common way to get to know a person these days.

With erratic lockdowns enforced around the country, meeting people has become increasingly difficult for our generation. But still, young people want intimacy and relationships with others. Dating apps have become more popular over the last few years, and have continued to skyrocket in success during the pandemic. Tinder, Hinge, Bumble-- you name it-- are all popular dating apps used to simply remind us that there are options out there in the wake of lockdown. It is hard to form connections without physical contact and equally as difficult to live with a void or need that can’t be fulfilled. When we are exposed to the same, limited pool of people constantly, it can become easy to lose hope. But we have to remember that this temporary, and the internet is here to supplement. While it may feel weird to get intimate over Facetime or getting to know someone online, it’s important to stay safe.

Being forced to date in public setting has reduced a lot of the pressures that hookup culture traditionally enforced on a first date. With coronavirus ever present in our minds, people are paranoid to hold hands, let alone kiss or hook up on a first date. These days, it is even common practice for someone planning on hooking up with another person to inquire about COVID test results. It seems that impulsive hookup culture has been more or less forced to the bench these days. While this is an adjustment for younger generations, maybe it isn't the worst thing in the world; we are getting to know our dates better and relieve the pressure of hooking up, all while being COVID friendly.