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When the Going Gets Tough, What Happens to Love?

Two people speaking at a table


In the past few months, relationships have either accelerated the levels of involvement or, in some cases, ended entirely. The Brookings Institution notes that the American birth rate fell severely during the Great Recession of 2008 and the flu epidemic of 1918, and the current pandemic combines the worst of both events. So, what happens to those of us that are single? How do we find love now that meeting people requires being at a distance?



Meeting strangers can be daunting, and in these times, even illegal. But you don’t have to look far; for example, thanks to COVID-19, two of my best friends started dating. If there is someone in your friend group that you like, then there has never been a better time to ask them out. You don’t have much to lose.



I recently met up with my good friend, a PhD candidate at UC Berkeley, whose area of study is online dating. He has one simple piece of advice for anyone looking to find a partner online: “Enough with the endless messaging. Text to get a date, not to waste time!”

His advice stuck with me, but how do you do this during COVID-19? You could try dating apps, Facetime, Zoom, or whatever. Once you’re comfortable with adding this person into your bubble, perhaps set up a coffee date, or meet outdoors to go skiing, skating, or go for a walk along the Seawall. Remember to keep a safe distance.


  • Instead of flirting through text, consider finding an app where you can play games with one another.
  • Watch a romantic movie or binge a TV show together. You can do this through the “Netflix Party” plugin. Afterwards, discuss it. You now have a shared interest or a topic to unpack.
  • Take an online dance or fitness class. Romantic ideas include ballroom dancing classes or yoga. Once COVID-19 restrictions are lifted, you can put these new skills to good use at an event or a local club.
  • Have an online candlelit dinner. Order in or elevate the experience by cooking the same recipe. Bon appetit!



The only cost to this option is that you may have to get an unlimited phone plan, but we all know you can get around that with social media. Is there someone in your class that you have always wanted to chat with? Add them on Instagram and start with a small conversation, maybe share some memes. DMs can turn into texts, texts into phone calls, and so forth. All you need is a good attitude.

If you do get into a long-distance relationship, make sure to keep the relationship exciting by exploring common interests and using some of the same ideas as virtual dating. It is also important to establish goals with your partner, such as trips in the future or a timeline to get together. This will ensure that you have something to look forward to. If you still feel lost, join an online support group. There are others in your boat who feel the same way. During this time, make sure your physical needs are met, whether that be through masturbation or having a discussion with your partner to consider an open relationship. Remember, there is no harm in having a conversation as long as you are honest, open, and respect your partners wishes.


Finally, remember that twiddling your thumbs will not find you a partner, and that there is no right or wrong way to approach dating, as long as it is safe. These are unprecedented times and heck, if you do find a relationship in such times, it will be one to tell stories about.