News & Politics

What’s the Effect of Covid-19 on DC Dating? So Far, “Rona” Jokes on Tinder and Canceled Dates.

"When it comes to the transmission of diseases or illness from dating, [Covid-19] isn't the one you normally think of."

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Coronavirus 2020

About Coronavirus 2020

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If you’re already working from home, sitting on the couch in your quarantine outfit (“quoutfit”), and blowing through Love Is Blind, may I suggest downloading a dating app? Because there are some gems on there.

Take, for instance, the DC-area man whose Bumble bio ponders “How many swipes am I losing to Coronavirus?” Or another local man’s Tinder bio, which declares “The Rona” has forced his company to have everyone telework for two weeks and asks, “Who tryna travel with me? Lol.”

While a pandemic may not be an “Lol” situation, worried and anxious humans are still humans, and humans do want to meet and date and hook up with other humans, even in the age of Covid-19. It’s just a little harder.

Take, for instance, a 28-year-old woman who lives in Bloomingdale, works in progressive media, and asked to remain anonymous. She’s been casually seeing a Silver Spring guy for a few months. Except now she’s not seeing him at all, because he’s self-quarantined.

After coming down with cold-like symptoms a little over a week ago, “he just freaked out,” the Bloomingdale woman says. “He self-quarantined a week before anyone else.” He decided on said self-quarantine right after he spent the night at her house, so of course, she was equally paranoid.

“It was the first moment I actually took it seriously,” she says. “I washed my sheets and sanitized everything.” So far, she’s fine and hasn’t displayed any symptoms, but her office has asked all employees to work from home after a coworker attended CPAC.

This coming Monday will mark two weeks he’s been self-quarantined in his house, and while the duo has been texting back and forth, they haven’t seen each other. The Bloomingdale woman is taking this novel twist to 2020 dating in stride: “When it comes to the transmission of diseases or illness from dating, [Covid-19] isn’t the one you normally think of,” she says. “So, yeah.”

And even daters not self-quarantined aren’t that eager to leave the house, says Kat Haselkorn, a DC matchmaker with the group Three Day Rule.

“I think it’s partly the I don’t know if I want to go out and get drinks right now and I think it’s partly the I don’t know where this person has been,” says Haselkorn of the pandemic’s effect on dating. She recently matched a couple, they agreed to get drinks this week, and then rescheduled to later next week after they realized they’d both just been on an airplane. Their rationale? “Just in case we come down with any symptoms, we can notify the other person,” says Haselkorn.

That’s not an isolated case. “In the last, seriously, just a couple days, I’ve had some couples say ‘Hey, do you know if he’s been traveling recently?’ ” says Haselkorn of setting people up on dates. “They’ve asked me to be a little more inquisitive, to dig a little deeper and see what that person’s recent travel history is like.”

Her older patients are particularly concerned, too, she says, as that demographic is at a higher risk of contracting a serious illness from Covid-19. One of her clients is a woman in her sixties, and she was supposed to go on a date with another man also in his sixties this weekend. To be safe, the duo canceled. “[She was] saying, ‘I think we need to rethink the plan. I don’t know if we want to be in a crowd right now. We’re a little older, we just want to be safe,’ ” says Haselkorn.

Speaking of playing it safe, local journalist Sarah Kelly, 32, has decided it’s probably best for now if she forgoes swiping on anyone with a profile picturing indicating travel. To be fair, those people aren’t usually her type, she says, but she’s still not taking any chances: “I haven’t been out with anyone who’s been on a plane recently.”

This week, she went on a date to Granite City Food & Brewery in National Harbor, and she says the restaurant was dead. “The guy I was on a date with was like, ‘This is kind of weird. It’s normally really busy,’ ” she says. “It was kind of weird for a happy hour on a Tuesday to have very few people in a really big, very tourist-friendly restaurant.”

Empty restaurants and an avoidance of plane travelers aside, Kelly isn’t letting the pandemic get in the way of her romantic life—yet. “In six weeks, this might be a very big mistake, but I don’t want to restrict my life more than I need to,” she says. “I care about making sure that other people are safe and not spreading a virus to vulnerable people, but I also just haven’t gotten any information saying I can never leave the house. So I’m going to go ahead and leave the house.”

Haselkorn has similar advice. “We’re just telling people what they’re already hearing—be cautious, be safe, but don’t stop living your life.”

That being said, her matchmaking company recently sent out an email asking that matchmakers be especially sensitive to clients who may want to swear off dating for the foreseeable future. And Haselkorn says she wouldn’t be surprised if folks start asking to FaceTime with matches instead of meeting in-person.

Mimi Montgomery Washingtonian
Associate Editor

Mimi Montgomery joined Washingtonian in 2018. Her work has appeared in Outside Magazine, Washington City Paper, DCist, and PoPVille. Originally from North Carolina, she now lives in Petworth.