Is it still worth it to meet someone new during the pandemic? As we've reached the two-year mark of the COVID-19 pandemic, restrictions are slowly loosening and people have become free to roam the outside world. But with our bubbles widening, are people's emotional and sexual barriers opening up, too?
Though it's been said that love knows no bounds, there's still much to be said about the walls we've put up while in lockdown. Dating has been hard enough, but when there's a risk of a virus involved, you can't blame people for wanting to put a halt to that area in their life.
While connecting with others still stand as a major part of trying to get back to normal, PhilSTAR L!fe spoke with those who are single by choice, looking for a relationship, and the lucky ones that found love and asked them the big question: what keeps them going?
'Used to the solitude'
With the pandemic slowing down everyday activities, it's also allowed for many to look into themselves and how they used to date before the lockdowns were announced.
I've gotten so comfortable with my solitude. it’s hard to find someone who can match up the peace I’ve found for myself
"I was a certified serial dater pre-pandemic, but now I’ve decided to stay single," Bea, 24, said. "The main reason I stopped pursuing people right now is that I've gotten so comfortable with my solitude. it’s hard to find someone who can match up the peace I’ve found for myself."
"It will take a special person to convince me that they are worth adjusting my daily routine and general vibe for."
There are also people who went through break-ups during the pandemic. Whether it be a so-called quaranfling or a serious relationship that ended, one can't help but lay low after an emotional crisis.
For Zed, 22, going through heartbreak in the pandemic was a mirroring of the endless loop that being stuck at home provided, so he decided to not to risk it at all: "It felt like I was stuck, and I don't want to feel that again so I stopped dating. I just want to focus on myself, it's a cliché but I do."
deleting my dating apps because i want to meet someone the old fashioned way (he sells me onions, i sell him jars of spiced peaches)— trash jones (@jzux) June 8, 2021
Meanwhile, Cara, 24, no longer saw the point of dating amid the crisis.
"I didn't understand the point of it if I won't be able to see my significant other," she shared. "I came from a relationship that ended partly because of the pandemic so I don't see the point and when I did try dating, it seemed quite superficial. Parang wala siya sa level that I want to date."
A 2021 study by the American dating app Match.com might understand the "level" that Cara has been looking for. In the research, they found that 62% of American daters were looking into making meaningful and long-lasting connections amid the pandemic, rather than short-term flings,
The term "intentional dating" has also been a buzzword when it comes to meeting new people, as Time's Cady Lang puts it: "While the pandemic has encouraged some to pursue partnership in a more intentional way, it has also prompted others to more broadly consider what they want out of their relationships and their lives."
Dating in the pandemic: 'There's romance there'
With intentional dating in mind, there are still many who opt to go out of their comfort zones (and lockdown bubbles) to meet new people.
Zak, 23, endured a breakup during the pandemic and though he still swipes through dating apps, yearns for how dating used to be: "I miss being able to see and feel the warm connection develop on the first dates, but now there's always gonna be this distance preventing us from making that. It just feels unreal but I think we're all accepting the fact that things won't go back to how they used to be."
"We have to adapt to these changes together. Dating is learning to adapt at the end of the day anyway."
Meanwhile, Bella, 24 sees the romantic potential in sticking by someone amid the changes: "I think I'm still dating because it's kind of romantic. 'We're dating in the pandemic' —it's like you're going through this huge world shift and yet you choose to be with this person. It's silly, but there's a romance there."
Shania, 23, has likewise seen the importance of going out of your way not just to make connections, but meaningful ones.
"I feel like the pandemic highlighted the fact that we're communal beings that crave togetherness and socializing," she shared.
"So I feel like that's why I and most of the people I know are still dating in the pandemic. After almost two years of being locked up in your house, you kind of realize how important it is to socialize and make meaningful connections."
not interested in dating apps, not interested in talking to random people in coffee shops/bars/shops… need my soulmate to find me through intuition and echo location rn immediately— sk (@kirkxxs) October 11, 2021
How about sexual relationships?
On the other hand, is sex still on the table? During PhilSTAR L!fe's #LetsTalkAboutSex Twitter Space discussion on Feb. 5, sex and relationships therapist Dr. Rica Cruz and her co-panelists talked about whether or not people still hook up with the onslaught of the pandemic.
In terms of whether or not there's an average number of times that single people have sex, Dr. Rica said that it can be difficult to gauge among single people: "It really depends because there are people who are sexually active and then there are people who are experiencing drought."
On the other hand, Dr. Rica shared that couples who have reported being sexually and emotionally satisfied have sex at least once a week. "It becomes seasonal, but the number is once a week."
Meanwhile, voice artist Inka Magnaye negated the mentality that "scheduling" sex lessens the fun: "But when you think about it, when you start out as dating when you schedule a date night, that is technically scheduling sex."
Sexy Time Podcast host Ava Daza Zanirato likewise said that the pandemic has brought up the need for scheduling in advance, especially when it comes to dates with, err, physical activities.
As for couples that are forced to be separated, Magnaye had some sage advice to keep the spark alive: "Apart from making time and scheduling, it's jjust also making use of technology. You have video chat, you go plan dates together."
Magnaye shared that she and her long-distance partner had a virtual date by drinking a bottle of wine on video call and going on risque sites together.
"And then when we got drunk enough, we went on a site and bought [adult] toys together so that was fun!"
Listen to the entire Twitter Space event here: