OPINION: COVID-19 adds new layer to online dating, safety measures should be taken

With little-to-no in-person classes, it's a challenge to make friends, let alone find someone to flirt with. (Archive Photo by Logan Wassall | Collegian Media Group)

Dating can be a strenuous endeavor, whether searching for a lifetime partnership or a casual fling, and COVID-19 has added another level of difficulty to the game of love.

With Valentine’s Day coming up, singles thinking of how to cure their loneliness should consider health safety, too. Pre-pandemic, many singles just looked forward to making a good impression and having an enjoyable time on their dates. Singles now, however, have to worry about whether their date wears a mask, socially distances, quarantines or has been around others who have tested positive recently.

Many students envision finding their significant other in college, meeting at a party or sitting next to them in class; but with few to no in-person classes, it’s a challenge to make friends, let alone find someone to flirt with.

Social media and online dating services, however, make it easy to connect with people of interest. Singles can diminish their loneliness by joining Tinder, Hinge, Bumble or simply direct messaging others on social media platforms. Many options in many styles exist to help people looking for love while they avoid spreading COVID.

Getting to know people online is a safe direction to head, to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Not knowing someone in person beforehand can be scary, with thoughts of getting catfished or putting trust in someone who could be lying running through the back of user’s minds, but the pandemic may prove to be, in this case, a solution.

The days of meeting in person don’t seem in sight, so keeping a relationship strictly virtual could lead to confidence, trust and building a solid foundation of friendship before moving further. Long text conversations at 3 a.m. and phone or video calls can greatly benefit a relationship and center it around quality, before physical attraction or hooking up.

If you don’t want casual one-night stands, online dating creates a space where that isn’t something to have anxiety about. With all the opportunities the internet has to offer, the pandemic shouldn’t get in the way of finding romance.

If connecting with someone on a dating platform does lead to wanting to meet face to face, take some important steps to ensure the good health of everyone involved. Make your needs and concerns known before the date. Wearing a mask, taking your temperature before leaving, getting tested and quarantining — if possible — could vastly reduce your chances of spreading the virus. If your date doesn’t want to comply, don’t go; it’s not worth the risk.

Thoughtfully choosing where to go is also essential. If dinner dates or coffee shops are your go-to, research restaurants that have made changes to accommodate the current state and that offer outdoor seating. Because it is winter, dress warmly with a coat, gloves, a hat and — of course — a mask to make the experience more enjoyable.

And, of course, the awkward kiss — or not to kiss — at the end of the night that causes anxiety in normal times can be avoided now, but it should definitely be discussed beforehand.

Maddy Daniels is a staff writer and a sophomore in journalism and mass communications. The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and the persons interviewed and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Collegian. Please send comments to opinion@kstatecollegian.com.