DETROIT — In the dating world, pre-pandemic, the words social distancing may have sounded counterproductive and even alienating. But now in the new normal, the rules of engagement have changed.
"With Covid times, doing virtual activities with friends, games, and stuff online is definitely a new way of doing things, and keeping people safe and socially distanced," said John Gajda, a former dating app user.
But online, John Gajda found more than just friendship.
"I live in Lavonia, I met my wife downriver through a dating app and we’ve been married now for just over a year," said John Gajda, a former dating app user.
The online dating trend has picked up even more since the start of the pandemic, especially with a growing number of platforms helping people find their significant other.
In fact, a recent survey by Bumble shows 2 in 3 Americans believe it’s possible to fall in love without meeting in real life.
The Dating app’s spokesperson Claire O’Conner says the last two years have changed the perception.
"91% of the Americans that we surveyed said that they believe there is no longer any stigma attached to online dating," said Claire O'Conner, Head of Editorial Content, Bumble.
Psychologist, sex, and relationship therapist Dr. Maha Nasrallah-Babenko says the pandemic has also fueled people to be more honest and upfront.
"They are generally more interested in serious relationships as opposed to hookups because of the pandemic, and obliviously when they do meet in person or want to meet in person they ask if the other person is vaccinated," said Dr. Maha Nasrallah-Babenko, Psychologist, Sex & Relationship Therapist.
Interestingly, since COVID hit, safety has been one of the key drivers for people to pursue a meaningful relationship.
Bumble’s data shows that 30% of Americans surveyed would not go on a date or be intimate with someone who hasn’t received the COVID vaccine.
That’s why nearly 40% of respondents enjoyed virtual dates as it’s safer to engage with a match.
"This idea of having a first date virtually, its really taken off, it's saving money, its means you only have to get ready from the waist up," said Claire O'Conner, Head of Editorial Content, Bumble.
But on the flip side, online dating has also opened the doors for too many choices.
"So, it's easy to flake out on a date, it’s easy to ghost people and just disappear, or keep people on the sidelines while you explore other options," said Dr. Maha Nasrallah-Babenko, Psychologist, Sex & Relationship Therapist.
So, the only question now is how does one know they’ve found their true love?
"I would take a bullet for my wife. Easy!" said Ryan Privette, who found his wife on a dating app.
"caring about someone unconditionally and just having them on the back of your mind," said Sita Mohammadi, hoping to find love one day.
"Growing and becoming more in tune with your partner," said John Gajda, who found his wife on a dating app.
"It’s a commitment, it requires patience, it requires discipline, kindness, compassion, and empathy, and of course, it's feeling, you feel inside a lot of us can’t necessarily describe," said Dr. Maha Nasrallah-Babenko, Psychologist, Sex & Relationship Therapist.
Now regardless of how one chooses to date these days, Dr. Nasrallah-Babenko says the important thing is, to be honest, authentic, and set healthy boundaries.