Hamilton

A perfect time for love? How COVID-19 is changing romance for singles and couples

COVID-19 is making it hard for singles and couples to connected, but dating experts say now is the perfect time to build meaningful relationships without intimacy.

Lovers say priorities have shifted away from dating, but experts say now is the time to rekindle relationships

People are being forced to get creative as COVID-19 pushes some people apart and leaves others no choice but to spend all day together.

After a fourth date, Alison Pipe knew that things with the guy she was seeing would become more exclusive. They talked steadily for weeks and she wasn't planning on waiting for anyone else.

Love may have been in the air — but if it was, the COVID-19 pandemic made sure Cupid's arrow didn't land anywhere near her.

Pipe said they haven't talked much since the virus began to spread, leaving the 33-year-old in what feels like a romantic purgatory, not knowing if she really is single or not.

"I don't really know where I'm at to be honest," she said. "Now there's no point in making a connection."

The virus has thwarted any attempts at a romantic outing in the town and any chance for physical contact between strangers.

It is twisting and contorting relationships and forcing people to adapt, whether they are a new couple waiting to be tested or those that have stood the test of time but have yet to endure a pandemic.

With people pushed apart, some are also taking the easy way out of relationships by using texts to send their break-up messages.

Relationship and dating experts say the inability to choose how close or far you are from someone is a blessing or a curse that comes down to each person's expectations.

COVID-19 demands creativity from couples

Ruth Romance, from the Burlington matchmaking and speed dating service, Race 4 Romance, said the novel coronavirus has been more hurtful than helpful for her clients, most of whom are singles between 35 and 55-years-old.

"It's hard for people to be creative in a time of stress and I find COVID-19 really is taxing relationships a little bit more than it is putting a positive spin on them," she said.

But the aftermath of the infection has forced people to fuse affection and ingenuity anyway, with many turning to streaming, video calls and even video games to try and build connections.

Julie Johnstone, a local relationship and life coach said, it has brought long-distance couples together like never before despite "forcing them into almost a long-distance relationship."

"They need to chat more throughout the day and the chats are almost like updates … and then there are different conversations that get deeper and that's happening now," she said.

As COVID-19 forces people physically apart, many turn to dating apps to seek emotional closeness with others. 2:04

Despite physical distancing preventing most chances for an overnight fling, Tinder, a popular dating app, wrote in a release that the app was used on March 29 more than any other day in its history.

While that may be a product of bored people swiping to kill time, it still means people looking for a fun night have to stick around and talk to someone for longer periods of time, which Johnstone said can lead to deeper connections.

"If you are on a dating app right now, you can swipe right and guess what? You'll get into a conversation and then say, 'How about if we FaceTime, how about if we Zoom?' "

"This is a positive thing … even [for] married couples, I've always had an online course for them because people are busy, they're at work, they have kids, they can't get a babysitter … couples working on their relationships, this is the best time for them to be doing it."

Make time for dates and intimacy

Violeta Puente, a 40-year-old holistic nutritionist, has been married to her husband for two months but they were together for years before that. They're having to spend all day together with their 11-year-old child. The circumstances have revealed some surprising insights into their relationship.

"We have been getting along better than I would've thought. Being together all day is the perfect opportunity to fight a lot or get on each others' nerves," she said.

"But romance is pretty much non-existent at this point … I'm getting stir crazy but it's not taking a toll on our relationship."

By the time their son is in bed, they're too tired to find a chance to sneak away and spend some time alone.

With casual encounters out of the picture because of COVID-19, dating experts say couples are being forced to build more intimate bonds. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Johnstone said while Puente's challenge is common, couples should work as a team to create time to be alone.

Another tip for lovers spending all day together is to make a conscious effort to look at their partner in a positive way, instead of getting annoyed at their idiosyncrasies.

And those who can't find a way to make it work only have one real way to break-up.

"There's no way you're doing it through text and no way you're doing it over the phone, it has to be face-to-face," Johnstone said.

"But couples are coming together because of COVID-19 and working on their relationships, we're forced to not have casual, one-night-stands. It is a great time, it is a perfect time for love."

About the Author

Bobby Hristova

Reporter/Editor

Bobby Hristova is a reporter/editor with CBC Hamilton. Email: bobby.hristova@cbc.ca

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