It goes down in the DM: Dating during a pandemic

Karine Reganyan, reporter

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the lives of college students in ways no one knew imaginable. From virtual learning to cancelled graduations and a world under lockdown, the aftermath effects of the pandemic have left their mark on many aspects of what should be a memorable college experience. COVID-19 has taken the role of third wheel, as dating and connecting with others emotionally has taken a back seat.

Following the safety measures set in place by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, many college students are trying to figure out how to continue dating without worrying about contracting the virus or spreading it.

As college students learn to navigate through this new life of constant safety regulations, some are using their social media to give them the benefit of doubt in making romantic connections, while others have found that the distance has only strained their long-term relationships.

Nareh Ohanian, a junior studying child development, said that her personal dating life has taken a left turn since ending her 10-year relationship with her ex-boyfriend during the pandemic.

Ohanian had no idea that the pandemic would test her relationship in so many ways. She found that lockdowns and social distancing protocols had heavily strained her relationship with her boyfriend. As a result, Ohanian began to experience feelings of isolation throughout her relationship and soon felt she had no choice but to call things off.

“The pandemic affected my relationship a lot. He comes from a household that is immunocompromised, which I respected and understood, but eventually I could feel us growing farther apart the more weeks that went by without us seeing each other,” said Ohanian.
“During the first lockdown we ever had, we didn’t see each other for three months and there was a huge feeling of absence and separation for a very long time.”

The lockdowns were a difficult time for many students to overcome, as feelings of isolation continued to grow, testing long-term relationships in its tracks.

With the absence of any kind of social gatherings taking place, some college students have turned to social media by direct messaging to engage with others.

According to College Pulse, 1 in 5 students said they have been spending more time on dating apps since the coronavirus breakout.

Third year kinesiology major Naira Marr offered insight into her personal dating life through the use of social media.

Using social media has given Marr a positive confidence boost when it comes to shooting her shot, without the possibility of feeling awkward or embarrassed in person. A girl who once never would have approached a guy for their number now uses direct messaging to connect with others.

“The pandemic was sort of a blessing in disguise for me because everything is virtual now. If I message someone on Instagram right now, I wouldn’t have to panic about seeing them on campus or in class if it didn’t work out or if I got rejected and vice versa,” said Marr. “I can calmly send a message and it’s a pathway to meeting new people that I never would have had the guts to approach in person.”

Marr has since been on a few virtual dates.

“Everything about this has turned me into a more confident person and has honestly improved my dating habits,” said Marr.

As one of the weirdest moments in time for college dating, this is one of the first times in history where college students have zero physical interaction with others on campus, parties to attend or crash and school games to meet new people.

From virtual zoom dates to socially-distanced dates with face coverings, it’s been a challenge for college students to connect emotionally.

As the world maneuvers through an unexpected pandemic, college students are doing their best to meet new people, but doing so safely.

As Los Angeles County transitions into the less restrictive orange tier, restaurants, movies theatres and lounges are once again welcoming visitors back, which will make for an easier dating experience for college students once again.