​Dating amid the COVID-19 pandemic

By Mitchell Blatt
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail China.org.cn, June 12, 2021
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People cross a road in Washington, D.C., the United States, May 14, 2021. [Photo/Xinhua]

With the world in the second year of the COVID-19 pandemic, although with the end seemingly in sight for some countries, many retrospectives are appearing about what went wrong, what was done right, and the experience of living under repeated lockdowns. 

For some, the biggest impact has been in dating. People in many countries showed big drop offs in romantic activity. According to surveys taken in April and May of 2020, 53% of Australians and 41% of Chinese reported having less intimate encounters than the year before. 

However, it was Americans who were among the most likely to say they wouldn't be comfortable dating for some time. Half of Americans surveyed in May 2020 said they would not feel comfortable dating in July, while only 44% of Koreans, 30% of Brazilians, and 25% of Italians shared this concern.

Testimonials of Americans who dated published in the online magazine "Slate" proved there was much to be apprehensive about dating in America during the pandemic. People talked about sitting on a park bench for hours with their masks on the whole time. 

Refusing to hug each other, or, after hugging and kissing, getting tested for the virus thereafter were common reactions; one person even mentioned how they were scared to share an umbrella due to the two-meter social distancing rule.

Forget about killing the rampant virus, those strange behaviors would kill any possible attraction between man and woman. 

What those extreme measures practiced by some illustrate is the lack of unity and social trust between Americans. Throughout the pandemic, many have been refusing to take even limited precautions to prevent its spread. They have refused to wear masks for the entire year, did not limit their social interactions in anyway, and even gathered illegally at private parties or rule-breaking bars. 

Now, many are refusing to get vaccinated even though it would allow them to (safely) do without a mask.

On the other hand – and in part influenced by those lack of precautions – some "worry warts" went way overboard in their caution. There was no need to wear a face shield when going shopping, as some did, and the dating behavior explained above is unnecessary and at times contradictory.

Anti-mask sentiment is built somewhat in a mythical sense of risk-taking. They think they are extreme beings, like a stunt motorcyclist, for not wearing a mask. However, there were some Americans who seemed to create myths in the opposite direction about how virtuous they were for shuttering up like monks.

If you are seeing people carousing about mask-less, and the number of new cases in your country approaching 100,000 a day, as it was in the United States, you can perhaps be forgiven for being so scared of meeting a stranger. You have no way of knowing if that person is one of the reckless who could get you infected, jeopardizing your work situation, your health, and that of your friends and family.

In my experience in South Korea, however, where I spent a fair amount of time during the pandemic and reside today, there is a much higher degree of social trust than in America. Almost everyone you see is wearing a mask and showing concern about coronavirus. 

The numbers bear it out, too. Countries like South Korea, China, Australia, Germany, Japan, and Vietnam, among others, have had much lower levels of viral transmission, due to greater levels of government and public vigilance, and thus a lower risk of encountering an infected person.

By the time I began going on some dates in South Korea last summer, I had already been to restaurants with friends, traveled by train, and taken a group surfing lesson while traveling. Psychologically, I did feel a little bit more nervous on that first date, but logically, meeting a potential love interest isn't any different than meeting a friend. I could have just been slightly nervous because it was a date. 

Aren't dates supposed to be exciting? Not if your "date" is video chatting. Putting a plastic barrier between the two of you is going to stop the spread of feelings.

Mitchell Blatt is a columnist with China.org.cn. For more information please visit:


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