The idea of meeting a stranger has always been nerve-racking, but now that we are living through a pandemic, we run the risk of contracting a deadly virus. Before March 2020, we found ourselves meeting new people in ways that seemed harmless to our health; going on a Tinder date or hitting it off with a lab partner were things we didn’t think much about. Now, though, running into a stranger is the epitome of worry. We might think about their whereabouts, whether they are an anti-masker or not, who they have been with or if they’ve been exposed to COVID-19.
For the duration of our quarantine, our dating lives were reduced to seeing our significant others through a screen, constantly wondering when the next in-person meeting would happen. Virtual dates took their place as a common occurrence in the lives of humans craving connection in a pandemic, and setting up Zoom calls became a priority on many to-do lists. Navigating our dating lives throughout the pandemic pushed us to get creative with the routines we were used to: in-person first dates and frequent outings. No one knew whether they could send a direct message to a stranger on Twitter or Instagram because meeting them seemed impossible. It became safe to assume that we might find “the one” via FaceTime or Zoom, and we became acquainted with thoughts of finding love at first sight from behind a screen.
Now that some restrictions have been lifted, the luxuries of dating before the Coronavirus outbreak are now smothered by social distancing rules and masks — for good reason. After almost a year into the pandemic, most of us have found ways to ensure our safety. We can direct message that good-looking stranger on social media and find our love wearing a mask and staying six feet apart. It is now hard to imagine a world without only knowing what the top half of our crush’s face looks like. As we move through life with the COVID-19 vaccine being administered, we can only hope that we will be able to meet strangers without the lingering thoughts of endangering ourselves or our loved ones.