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What COVID-19 has meant for dating in America

During the COVID-19 pandemic, restaurants, theaters, parks and other places where people come together are closed in an effort to keep them apart. Meanwhile, people who share a home spending much more time together than they usually do. What do these changes mean for dating and relationships? Lisa Desjardins reports on how Americans are staying connected amid unprecedented social circumstances.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    Coronavirus has upended life as we know it. But what has it meant for those trying to date?

    Lisa Desjardins has that story.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    The empty restaurants, theaters, and closed public spaces across the country are meant to keep people safe and apart. That has made dating, the search for being together, just strange.

  • Aditi Juneja:

    Someone said to me, like, after the pandemic, I'd love to cook you some spicy food. And I was like, what a weird pickup line.

  • Jeremy Wade:

    You're trying to build that foundation without a lot of the same tools and interaction that you would normally have.

  • Woman:

    I had this grand idea that we'd be sending each other letters or something romantic.

    (LAUGHTER)

  • Marianne Shaeffer:

    We have gotten really good at both opening up Netflix or Amazon Prime, and starting things at the same, and then resyncing them as we go along.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    As part of our ongoing coverage of life under this pandemic, we asked some of our viewers to tell us about their experience.

  • Aditi Juneja:

    I think dating is just, like, always sort of miserable, right, like just as a general rule.

    (LAUGHTER)

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    Aditi Juneja in New York City is looking for a relationship, and has noticed something different about online dating during the lockdown:

  • Aditi Juneja:

    I am extremely lazy, so I was very much like, I date in Queens. Like, I'm not going to Brooklyn. Like, you're crazy. And now there's like someone in Staten Island I'm talking to, which I'm like, I don't know if we ever meet, but, like, it doesn't matter. We're not — no one's going anywhere anyway.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    Online dating apps like Tinder have temporarily lifted geographic restrictions, and also pushed users to more phone and video dates to encourage social distancing.

    Juneja says the pandemic has perhaps also forced people to slow down.

  • Aditi Juneja:

    It feels also less like people are racing toward some finish line, where you're trying to be like, are you the person I'm going to spend my life with? Yes? No? Get out of my face. Like, it feels more like, I just want some companionship.

  • Jeremy Wade:

    I haven't heard anyone say it that way, but that's a perfect analogy.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    Forty-five-year-old Jeremy Wade in Columbus, Ohio, met someone just as the shelter-in-place orders began. So how do they build a romance now? Virtually, watching the same things at the same time.

  • Jeremy Wade:

    I thought about potentially, you know, dancing together, so, you know, putting on the same song and like moving around the room with — which sounds very awkward and a little nerdy. But what else are you going to do?

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    Indianapolis paramedic Paul Hess has been trying to keep the momentum going while apart, too. After 12 years of being single, in November the 56-year-old finally met someone through Facebook.

  • Paul Hess:

    She was everything. She's beautiful. She's smart. She's funny. She's snarky. She's patient with me. And that's very important when you deal with me.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    Because of his work treating COVID patients, he says, last month, he realized that it'd be best to stay away from her and her kids. So now it's just calls and text messages. That's been hard.

  • Paul Hess:

    You come home just worn out emotionally and physically. And, you know, I have to kiss the dog. I mean, he's a great dog, don't get me wrong, but it's just not the same.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    Of course, for couples now quarantining together, challenges can come from the other direction: suddenly having too much time together.

  • T.J. Gehman:

    Our actual time in the apartment has exponentially increased. For me, it's like, you know, you didn't change the toilet paper roll.

  • Joey Viola:

    Oh, I don't. You're right.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    Joey Viola and T.J. Gehman have been together for two-and-a-half years and live in Philadelphia. Despite minor annoyances, they say they have grown stronger through this.

  • Joey Viola:

    Quarantine has been really good for our relationship. It kind of was like the ultimate test. Like, can we stand each other for this many days and hours, unknowing — like, not knowing how long it's going to be, but doing everything together?

    And there was just one day. It was a few weeks into it. And I just, like, looked at him. I was like, I think I'm more in love with you. And I mean that.

  • T.J. Gehman:

    Not to negate everything that's happened that's been horrible about this pandemic, but this kind of pause in life has been a really beautiful thing for us.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    Many echoed that feeling, that, despite all of the frustrations of this moment, it's given them a chance to catch their breath and decide what they want out of life and their relationships.

  • Marianne Shaeffer:

    It's kind of like a big reset. Everybody is checking out their priorities and maybe reexamining where they are in life.

  • Aditi Juneja:

    It's not that people are behaving differently. You are actually getting to see, like, truer, more vulnerable senses of who people are.

  • Paul Hess:

    If you're in it for a long run, you got to be in it for the long run.

    It's stay the course and hope that everything turns out good in the end, and you finally get to see the people you love again.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    Hope for seeing the people they love, and, for some, those they are still falling in love with, despite the pandemic.

    For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm Lisa Desjardins in Washington.

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