When I reflected on the at the end of 2019, none of us had any idea what was in store for us at the start of this year.

Take your mind on a journey back to the far-off time of last year. Dating was still considered to be a bad time by many. Online dating and apps — now the — had long been blamed for hookup culture and fostering an environment where ghosting ran amok. If people (by and large men) weren’t ghosting, then they were probably sending messages horrible enough to

Tinder and apps like it ushered in the “dating apocalypse,” so argued the now-famous that cited reasons like those above. 

To that I now say: Well, at least I was able to perpetuate hook-up culture without wearing a mask or worrying about infecting myself, my date, and every other human that came within six feet of us.

Not only is online dating now the only safe way to date during the pandemic, but online dating norms themselves have shifted quickly in this strange time. Some might believe these pandemic-induced changes have ushered in an entirely new dating apocalypse, one where masked sex is common and everyone is aggressively horny.

Yes, there are some aspects of quarantine dating — quardating, if you will — that thoroughly suck. We must either opt for virtual dates or date with masks on, struggling to hear the other person’s muffled voice. We may have nothing on our minds but coronavirus and massive social unrest, making the usual light chit chat exhaustingly difficult. We may sanitize our hands every half hour. Despite these setbacks, however, I’d argue that there are some major pluses to quardating:

Weeding out people who aren’t interested

It’s arguably never been easier to decipher who’s interested in you and who isn’t. If someone isn’t responding to your Bumble messages when they may be at home all day (or, if they’re not, at least not going out like they used to) well, you have your answer about how they feel about you. 

While that initial realization may sting, this is actually a huge boon. Now you don’t have to pursue — or god forbid, — someone who would engage a bit more if you were talking in the Before Times, but would ultimately leave you hanging.

A legitimate excuse to stop talking to someone

On the flip side, you also don’t need to continue talking to someone that you’re not interested in, either. I’d never recommend ghosting unless the person in question is an asshole who warrants getting fully cut-off, but you can truly be honest with whomever you’re speaking to. Has the state of the world made you not so into dating right now? Are you anxious, depressed? Any excuse for not being into someone is a valid one, but these are especially easy to understand. And the other person may feel the exact same way!

If you don’t want to speak to strangers right now, it’s more than warranted to take a break from dating.

Everything is going slower

If you do want to date, one advantage is needing to take things slower. This goes along with weeding unworthy people out. If they’re just interested in a hookup, they’ll move on if you suggest a FaceTime date.

Dating in New York City, especially, has been an experience of weaving through profiles and subsequently actual dates with people who just want to have sex. That’s not a bad thing — I’ve been that person myself — but for someone looking for something a bit more serious, now’s the time where it’s not only smart to take things slow, but you could save lives while doing it.

Image: vicky leta / mashable

No need to worry about how you look

Well, kind of. First off, you never “have” to care about how you look, but it’s likely during the Before Times that you wanted to make a good first impression. Now you can do that without putting in as much effort, and without worrying about, say, how you smell. If you’re doing a FaceTime or Zoom date, for instance, you can go pants-less. If you’re sticking to text or voice calls, you can be in sweats and they have no idea. A new luxury.

All the money you’re saving

This one is pretty self-explanatory, but virtual dates and even social-distanced dates are less expensive than dates of yore. In New York City, a date that involves dinner and a couple drinks can add up fast— never mind the cost of the Lyft home. 

A date that’s literally at home, or at least at a park with a couple bodega beers? Much less costly.

Immediate common ground

We all share aspects of the human experience to begin with, but sometimes a potential date is so unlike you that there’s nothing to talk about. Not anymore! I’m not saying you should constantly talk about coronavirus or the increasing social unrest — in fact, you probably shouldn’t — but those topics are a way to establish common ground. And if you’re not thrilled with how someone is handling either, you can swiftly drop them. That dude who doesn’t wear his mask over his nose? Bye!

The excitement of meeting in person

Quardating has felt like an 18th-century courtship, sending letters to a far-off, would-be lover in hopes of getting one in return. Or better yet, finally seeing that lover in person. Now that actually meeting up is a much more significant step than before, you’ll likely be choosier and save the occasion for someone you really like. Instead of agreeing to meet up with someone you exchanged a few Tinder messages with, you’re curating in-person dates much more finely. That makes actually meeting someone that much more exciting. 

Quardating has felt like an 18th-century courtship

Reason for clear communication

Online dating has made “situationships” more pervasive than ever before. I won’t go so far as to say that the pandemic has completely eliminated that aspect of modern dating for good, but it’s shelved, at least. If you’re concerned with being as safe as possible (which you should be, hello?), you’re going to keep your circle small and only see a few people in person. This means DTRing, or at least having uncomfortable conversations, early. That, I hope, lasts after the coronavirus is long over. 

It’s unclear just how much dating will change in a post-coronavirus world; even for certain. Hopefully, like greater societal change, some of these positive aspects of dating stick.  

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