Even under the best of circumstances, dating and maintaining a relationship can be challenging. Add in a deadly, heavily politicized pandemic, and it can seem nearly impossible.
What precautions should you insist on when meeting a potential romantic partner? Are masks and social distancing enough, or are negative tests and vaccines required? Is it better to just pause the search for love until life is back to normal?
To find out what safety protocols daters are taking during the pandemic, including proof of negative COVID-19 tests and vaccinations, Testing.com and online survey platform Pollfish recently surveyed 600 American adults about their dating behaviors during the pandemic.
- 25% of people require proof of a COVID-19 vaccine before a first date with a potential romantic partner
- 61% require mask wearing on a first date and 48% require that the meetup be outdoors
- 23% of date-goers say they contracted COVID-19 on a first date
- 33% of singles haven’t dated since the start of the pandemic
25% of singles require proof of vaccination before a first date
As of this writing, nearly 118 million Americans have received at least one vaccine dose, and more than 58% of adults have received at least one shot.
When asked what safety measures they require before meeting a potential romantic partner in person, 25% of all survey respondents say they want to see proof of COVID-19 vaccination. The rate was even higher for those who have already received at least one vaccine, with 37% wanting their dates to be vaccinated, compared to just 14% of non-vaccinated people. Overall, 47% of survey respondents have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.
Despite evidence that COVID-19 affects older adults more severely, 18-24-year-olds are the most likely age group to want to see proof of vaccination before an in-person date at 30%. By comparison, only 19% of people aged 35-44 require proof of vaccination before a date, and 27% of people aged 54 and older.
Northeast residents twice as likely as Midwesterners to want their dates vaccinated
The rates at which singles want their dates to be vaccinated also vary regionally, reflecting differing attitudes to the pandemic. Daters in the Northeast are twice as likely as daters in the Midwest to require proof of vaccination (30 % vs. 14%).
Grindr users most likely to require dates to be vaccinated
Users of different dating apps also have different feelings about the necessity of vaccinations before first dates. Twenty-nine percent of Grindr users, and roughly 25% of Bumble, eHarmony, Match, and Hinge users, want proof that their dates have been vaccinated before meeting in-person.
Meanwhile less than 20% of users of Tinder, OkCupid, and Plenty of Fish say they require dates to be vaccinated.
Majority of daters require safety precautions
Most daters require at least one or more safety precautions when meeting a potential romantic partner in-person.
61% of daters require masks
Masks are by far the most popular way for daters to protect themselves and others, although their use is far from universal on first dates. Sixty-one percent of respondents say masks are a requirement for dates, with more women (64%) than men (56%) taking this stance.
Although 18-24 year-olds most often require vaccines for their dates, they were less likely to require masks. Only 45% of this group say they require masks on an in-person date, compared to 66% of 35-44 year-olds, and 62% of 25-34 year-olds.
Forty-eight percent of daters say they require outdoor meetups, while 47% practice social distancing. Other precautions mentioned included having a discussion about each person’s day-to-day precautions, and asking if their date is experiencing any COVID-19 symptoms.
22% of singles require a negative COVID-19 test before meeting a date in-person
Twenty two percent of all respondents say they require proof of a recent negative COVID-19 test before a first date.
As with vaccinations, the rate of people who want to confirm their dates are COVID-negative is highest in the Northeast. Thirty-one percent of daters from this region said a negative test is a prerequisite for meeting in person, versus 21% of residents in the West, 18% of Southerners, and 14% of Midwesterners.
23% of people say they contracted COVID-19 on a first date
Even among the most careful daters, there are no guarantees. Overall, nearly one-fourth of the daters we surveyed said they contracted COVID-19 from a first date.
Older adults were more likely than younger adults to have contracted COVID-19 on a date, with 28% of people 54 and older reporting that this happened to them, compared to 19% of people 35-44, and 20% of people 45-54.
1/3 of singles haven’t dated since start of pandemic
Given the fraught nature of dating in the time of coronavirus, it’s perhaps unsurprising that 33% of people we surveyed have avoided dating altogether during the pandemic. That number was slightly higher for older individuals, with 42% of people 45-54, and 35% of people 54 and older saying they have not gone on a date since the pandemic started.
Others are sticking to virtual dates to maintain safety, with 16% of all survey respondents taking this route in the past year. Virtual dates are most popular with 35-44 year-olds at 22%.
However, 10% of all respondents said the pandemic has had no effect on their dating life. That number was highest for people aged 18-24, 19% of whom said the pandemic has not affected their dating behaviors.
Stress of pandemic and safety protocol disagreements caused breakups
While for single people it may seem like having a long-term romantic partner during the pandemic may be easier, our study found that’s also not necessarily the case.
Of those we surveyed who said they had experienced a break up in the past 12 months. 46% percent said the pandemic played a role in the dissolution of their relationship. Fifty-three percent said the stresses of the pandemic made managing a relationship difficult.
Twenty percent of people who had a relationship end within the last year said it was because their partner was not taking COVID-19 safety protocols seriously enough, while 11% of people said their partner did not think they were taking the pandemic seriously enough.
Social distancing proved to be too much for some couples to handle. Thirty-one percent of respondents said their relationship ended because they couldn’t see their partner in person anymore.
Meanwhile, COVID itself was the cause of some break-ups; 28% of respondents initiated a break-up when their partner caught COVID, and 24% were dumped when they contracted the virus.
The data from this report comes from an online survey created and paid for by Testing.com. The survey was administered by online survey platform Pollfish on March 21, 2021. We surveyed 600 Americans aged 16 to 54 and older about their relationships and dating habits during the COVID-19 pandemic.