Dating in the age of COVID: More cuffing, less ghosting

Between guidelines on social distancing and worrying about meeting potential new partners, dating has certainly gotten more complicated in the coronavirus era. And now, as cuff season approaches, it's more important than ever to be clear about how the current climate has affected our desire to be in a relationship.
"Cuffing season is a time when individuals often look for a relationship to get them through the cold winter months," said Jen Hartstein, Yahoo Life's mental health contributor and practicing psychologist in New York City. “It often starts in October and ends in March and April when spring begins. We tend to be lonely in the colder months. We don't go out that much. We are not that much in the world. It motivates us to want to find this partner, even if it is a short-term one, so that we have a camaraderie and someone to spend time with and not be alone when we are indoors more often. "
This year, of course, the cuff season came a little earlier as people spent most of the spring and summer months in their homes because of the pandemic. Given the cold weather and the likelihood of a second wave of COVID cases, people are putting more pressure on themselves to find someone to spend time with.
The coronavirus has increased people's need for camaraderie. (Photo: Getty Images)
“When we feel isolated, we want a connection. And at this time when we were isolated from people who might interest us, many of us are also touchless and we are really desperate just to have one connection, ”continues Hartstein.
This increased willingness to enter into a relationship has been largely demonstrated on dating apps like Hinge, whose data shows that since April, people have become more dated and ghostly or have disappeared without explanation, as people meet virtually rather than in person as a safety measure. These data, Hartstein explains, could be the result of self-reflection that takes place on its own over a long period of time. "People have also worked to find out what matters to them," she says. Still, she cautions that newer relationships can also be the result of settlement, just for the sake of camaraderie.
“We really want to be able to enter the relationship for the right reasons,” she explains. "So it's very important to slow down, pay attention to what you are looking for, and follow your own needs so that you don't compromise just because something is ahead of you."
Unsurprisingly, for the many people who have already found dating difficult and nerve-wracking, Hinge has gathered information that signals even more singles fearful of finding meaningful connections during the pandemic. The dating app has partnered with Headspace to create meditations specifically targeting the heightened anxiety that comes with meeting games during this troubled time.
"We know that concern for your mental health and well-being is critical to making a meaningful connection. In the past few months, singles have felt more anxious," said Justin McLeod, founder and CEO of Hinge, in a statement to Yahoo Life . "We want our users to be calm and relaxed with each other, so it was a breeze to work with Headspace to develop the first meditations on data."
"It is always important to focus on your sanity while dating," Hartstein adds. “Dating in and of itself creates fear because we want to do our best, and even when we do, it takes a lot of judgment. And then the world is "normal". At a time when things are even more stressful, it is really important that you are able to manage your negative self-talk and anxiety. "
Although the coronavirus pandemic is largely responsible for these unprecedented times, Hartstein admits that the political climate has also become an obstacle to dating. "It's a challenging time in the context of the elections, and sometimes we meet people we like but who don't share our political leanings," she says. "This can also induce some anxiety."
The lack of dialogue that characterizes the political landscape increases the difficulty of tackling new issues with a largely unknown person. The key to overcoming these problems, Hartstein explains, is open conversation.
"There used to be a belief that in a new relationship you don't talk about religion, money or exes. That is no longer really the case. It seems like everything is on the table for discussion," she says Open the door to a potentially highly charged conversation, set a few parameters. Check with your own feelings what you want to accept and decide how to end the conversation if you feel uncomfortable. Push the fear through, that you could have to assert yourself and stand up for your beliefs. "
With a lot more thought and fewer opportunities to meet people more openly in person, Hartstein emphasizes the importance of singles taking their time this cuff season to make healthy decisions about how and with whom to spend time .
“Weigh the pros and cons of engaging with someone. Can you spend this time with friends and family who are really close to you instead of hanging out with someone? Will that do more than tie you up? " She asks. "Find out all of these things and then embark on this relationship journey."
Video produced by Jacquie Cosgrove
For the latest coronavirus news and updates, please visit https://news.yahoo.com/coronavirus. According to experts, people over 60 and those with compromised immune systems remain at the greatest risk. If you have any questions, please see the CDC and WHO resource guides.
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