To many people, it may seem sensible to limit the number of partners during a pandemic. For evolutionary psychologists, however, this is the “behavioral immune system” at work – an unconscious set of behaviors that protect us from the threat of infectious diseases.
A pre-COVID study McGill University in Montreal found that people who felt most susceptible to illness showed less interest in potential dates, regardless of how desirable they were.
There are other obvious and expected changes that have occurred during the pandemic. For example, Kaplan often sees the “I’m vaccinated and ready to go!” Mentality, and the same people are looking for vaccinated partners too.
“People want someone who shares their values and appreciates the freedom that comes with vaccination,” she says. “So much about dating is exploring together.”
And there will likely be a huge dating pool for singles back there again, says Dr. Martie Haselton, professor of communication and psychology at UCLA.
“We’re going to see a lot of relationship sales – some people stayed in their relationships because they needed someone to be with while they were locked out,” she says. “Now that things are opening up, people’s possibilities are opening up.”
Detroit-based Kristin Drago, a 37-year-old single mother of two boys, is excited about meeting someone. Dating, on the other hand, is not so much.
“I’m getting to the point where I’ve got my year away from it all and I’m super lonely when the guys aren’t here,” she says. “I would like to have a partner, but I don’t know how excited I am about the process. After COVID, my social skills completely disappeared. “
However, once she decides to go back to using the apps, she says her approach will be different from the days leading up to the pandemic. Rather than answering ordinary topical dating questions, she will focus more on how well potential partners have dealt with COVID-related stressors such as work from home or vacation, and what their pandemic practices have been like.
“These questions tell you how you grew up and secretly dive into who you really are,” says Drago.