Love After Lockdown: 3 Women On Dating During A Global Pandemic

COVID-19 changed the dating game in more ways than one. These women share their real-world perspective.

If you feel like COVID-19 has thrown your relationships off-kilter, you’re not alone.

2020 was, dare we say it, unprecedented—especially for those of us trying to navigate the dating scene amidst a global pandemic.

COVID-19, along with the slew of restrictions, uncertainty and health anxiety that came with it, placed an unprecedented (yes, we said it again) amount of pressure on relationships.

For some newly-minted couples, this meant their courtship went from zero to 100, real quick, with lockdown measures prompting them to speed through relationship milestones and bunker down together.

On the other hand, the pressure cooker of COVID-19 proved to be too much for others—the lack of distraction forcing couples to confront the issues that had been bubbling away under the surface.

Whether newly-single or on the market for a while, dating during a global pandemic wasn’t always straightforward, says Lucille McCart, Associate Director, APAC, PR + Comms at Bumble: “When lockdown restrictions were announced, it essentially flipped dating on its head and we quickly saw Bumble users shift to creating more meaningful connections online rather than in person.”

“What is really interesting is that the shift to virtual dating has seen singles’ confidence grow, as many feel it has taken away some of the traditional dating pressures.”

Fortunately for singles, Bumble’s virtual date feature—a video date to precede an IRL date—gave users an opportunity to ‘meet’ when it was, quite literally, illegal to go out for a drink. During the pandemic, Bumble saw a 76 per cent increase in the usage of its video chat feature.

In 2021, we can more readily date in person again; however, our priorities have changed. The Bumble Intimacy in a Pandemic Report found that 30 per cent of Australians have changed what they’re looking for in a partner, with 56 per cent seeking more meaningful connections and 54 per cent of singles looking for a long-term relationship.

So what was it actually like to navigate the dating scene during a global pandemic? We speak to three women for their real-world perspective:

Dating Bridgerton
(Credit: Netflix)

JEN, 31


When the COVID-19 pandemic took hold in 2020, Jen was single: “I’d been seeing a guy but it had fizzled a few weeks before COVID-19 reached Australian shores—I often wondered what would have happened if the timing had been different.”

Before long, pandemic chat took hold on Bumble—just as it did everywhere else. “There was lots of banter about Zoom, WFH, quarantinis… you name the cliché, we talked about it.”

“The pandemic affected my approach to dating in polar opposite ways. On one hand, I felt a sense of panic that the world was ending so I’d better couple up stat. On the other, it was nice to take a bit of a break from dating—the pressure to meet someone was suddenly lifted when it wasn’t even an option to leave the house.”

“Overall, it felt a bit more relaxed. Given the state of the world, people were genuinely happy to have a chat and were more grateful when we were finally able to meet up. So many of us have developed a negative attitude to dating over the years, but the pandemic put things into perspective.”

“One of the hardest things I dealt with during the pandemic was all the uncertainty and decision-making: Is it safe to go out? Is it ethical to go out? What if my friends and I disagree on what’s appropriate? It was similar with dating… on my first few dates after restrictions lifted, it was hard to know whether to hug or kiss someone on arrival, or maintain three feet between us at all times!”

When in-person dates were finally back on the cards again, Jen “had drinks in the park with one guy—it was like being 16 again! I’m all about the walk or picnic—cute, casual and COVID-safe in the open air.”

Dating Bridgerton
(Credit: Netflix)



As COVID-19 kicked off in 2020, things were starting to get serious between Katherine and her new boyfriend Rohan—the pair met five months earlier on Bumble.

“I was looking for something more serious. When I first started using Bumble, it was to meet new people and go out on fun dates, but after a while I was kind of over being messed around. I’d been on Bumble for about 18 months and met a mix of good (and not so good) guys, but no one really clicked. I actually thought a few hours before meeting Rohan that I was going to take a dating break if this didn’t work out.”

“We chatted for about three days before we organised our date—Rohan asked me out and suggested we should meet up for after work drinks. We had a few beers are talked the night away. It was so easy and natural, like I’d know him all my life.”

After that first date, things moved pretty quickly. “I think we both knew we liked each other a lot. We had four more dates before we became official—that was about three weeks after first meeting.”

“We were dating about five months when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, so we were an established couple but also still getting to know each other and the flow of the relationship.”

“[The pandemic] was a little scary at first. Rohan was in New Zealand for a wedding when things started to close in Melbourne and the reality of COVID-19 set in. I was worried he might not be able to get back into Australia. Later, there was a lot of confusion about whether couples that lived apart could see each other—so I quickly packed a suitcase and snuck over to Rohan’s! Then, the very next day, the Victorian government back-tracked and allowed couples to visit each other.”

“I think it may have put a fast-track on our relationship, as we were spending all our time together and not having many other social interactions. Lockdown was a challenge for me because my working hours significantly reduced. Rohan worked full-time all the way through and was busier than ever. We were polar opposites with our workloads, which was a challenge at times, but we made it work.”

“My fondest memories from that time include cooking together, going on long walks along the Yarra, ‘date nights’ at home with Thai takeaway and wine—plus, just being there and supporting each other through a very difficult situation.”

“I moved in with Rohan in November when restrictions started to ease in Melbourne. It’s fantastic that we can now go out on ‘date nights’ that don’t comprise of UberEats and wine (although that was great too).”

KIT, 28


Kit recently subscribed herself to a new challenge. The premise? To go on 52 first dates in 52 weeks throughout 2021. “They say dating is a numbers game. There’s 52 weeks in a year and I want to put the theory to the test.”

“I’m doing this completely of my own accord. I’m not taking it too seriously or thinking that I must find a boyfriend [before the end of the year]. I go to a lot of dinner parties with couple friends and they live vicariously through me so I’m giving the people what they want.”

And if she meets someone that she connects with early on in the challenge? “My history says that won’t happen,” Kit says with a laugh, “I’ve pretty much been doing this anyway but it wasn’t a formal challenge.”

Before the pandemic took hold, Kit used Bumble sporadically. “Prior to COVID-19, I would typically go on Bumble on a Sunday night—that’s the time when we all think we’re going to find love on our sofas. When we went into lockdown in March, I was on there a lot more. The conversations were funny because nobody was doing anything. People would ask, ‘What are you up to?’ And I’d say, ‘Sitting in the same pair of pyjamas that I’ve sat in for the last three days, what about you?’. During that time, my hours on Bumble increased just as the overall time I spent on my phone went up.”

Kit describes Bumble as “the bar that we all want to be at”—particularly when going to an actual bar wasn’t an option. “Thanks to social distancing, Bumble has brought the bar into our home. Previously, you might have gone to a restaurant and you’d have bumped into someone but because of social distancing, you just physically can’t do that now.”

How has the pandemic change Kit’s dating behaviours? “Since we’ve been able to go out [to bars and restaurants] in real life, I feel like I’m more ballsy. I will just go up to somebody and speak now; I would have never done that before.”

Brought to you by Bumble.

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