Home dating industry New meaning of “mingling”: the pandemic is changing the dating landscape

New meaning of “mingling”: the pandemic is changing the dating landscape

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Possible love interests are verified on FaceTime and Zoom. The dates are scheduled in parks, on hiking trails and outdoor terraces in the metropolitan area. Decisions about whether and when there might be physical contact are assessed very differently than in the past – grandmother, grandfather and other vulnerable relatives are now. part of the equation.

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“Before COVID, you wouldn’t even have had a conversation about your lifestyle until you wanted to get intimate, said Miriam Nava, a 23-year-old student and fraud analyst from Sandy Springs. “Now, even before you meet someone, are you trying to find out if they’re safe?” “

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Newlyweds Tiffany Cableton and Brian Williams kiss after the wedding ceremony at the Fulton County Courthouse in Atlanta last month. (Alyssa Pointer / [email protected])

Credit: Alyssa Pointer / [email protected]

Credit: Alyssa Pointer / [email protected]

Such concerns have prompted some singles to wait completely for the pandemic to end before joining the dating pool. But around 94% of Georgians on OkCupid are dating virtually during COVID, according to a recent survey by the online dating site.

For some who have found love in the past year, the pandemic has made them get serious with loved ones more quickly. Without the distractions of travel, parties and everyday life, the coronavirus has put some couples on the wedding fast lane.

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For others, the time spent together – and the increased risk – led to breakups.

Rolanda Powell, a community activist from Center Hill, stopped seeing a love interest last spring largely because of the woman’s in-person work at a manufacturing company where a cascade of co-workers had fallen ill with COVID-19.

Rolanda Powell of Center Hill says the pandemic has
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Rolanda Powell of Center Hill says the pandemic has “allowed me to look within myself and really take the time to figure out what I want.” (Photo courtesy of Rolanda Powell)

A recent investigation from the Match website suggests the pandemic has changed what many single Atlantans look for in a partner. Sixty-four percent said they viewed a wider range of people as potential romantic partners, and about two-thirds are now more likely to ask questions about the person’s health history.

The pandemic “allowed me to” look inward and really take the time to figure out what I want, “said Powell, 39. “Because it’s like I’m going to risk (get sick) for you?”

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One area that has certainly taken a hit: sex life. Nationally, 71% of singles surveyed by Match reported that they did not have sex during the pandemic. Of those who did, 41% have become intimate with someone they are locked up with, such as a roommate. Overall, about a quarter of singles broke up during the lockdown, while 11% rekindled their relationship with an ex.

Online dating sites have reported an increase in activity, as have relationship professionals such as marriage counselors and matchmakers.

After suffering a heavy blow during the first lockdowns last spring, business is now more profitable at One on One Matchmaking in Buckhead than it was before the pandemic, President Jennifer Miotke said.

“If you’re single and you’re alone in your house for six months, you’re thinking about your love life,” she said. “You’re going to try to do something about it.”

Jennifer Miotke, president of One on One Matchmaking, said after taking a heavy blow in the initial lockdowns, business is now more profitable than it was before the pandemic.  (Photo courtesy of Jennifer Miotke)
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Jennifer Miotke, president of One on One Matchmaking, said after taking a heavy blow in the initial lockdowns, business is now more profitable than it was before the pandemic. (Photo courtesy of Jennifer Miotke)

But the types of matchmaking activities to offer during such extraordinary times have been the subject of debate within the industry. While some matchmakers have gone poo by setting up video dates for clients, One on One embraced it, hosting digital happy hours on the theme of “Tiger King” and “Price is Right”. Later, the company started hosting outdoor social events while cutting back on its popular group dinner dates.

Lizzy Wingate, an educator based in Marietta, began using dating apps, a medium she had largely avoided before the pandemic. She found herself offering hikes, patio outings and dog walks as dates, meetings that only took place after a longer period of texting and phone conversations.

COVID “has definitely extended the knowledge phase,” said Wingate, 29. “I spoke to a lot of people, but the pandemic made me a lot more careful about who I was going to meet in person. “

Phone calls seemed almost old-fashioned, Wingate said, but made in-person dates less awkward. By the time she first met the man who would become her boyfriend for a walk along the Chattahoochee River last summer, she felt like the ice had already been broken. The two quickly bonded from there, especially after quarantining themselves together after being exposed to the coronavirus.

Lizzy Wingate and her boyfriend Justin first met for a walk along the Chattahoochee River last summer.  Wingate says COVID
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Lizzy Wingate and her boyfriend Justin first met for a walk along the Chattahoochee River last summer. Wingate says COVID “has definitely extended the knowledge phase.” (Photo courtesy of Lizzy Wingate)

Some relationship therapists have coined the term “turbo relationships” to describe the accelerated romantic trajectory of couples who met and quickly fell in love during the pandemic. This is how Rehkopf, 41, described the situation she found herself in last August.

After months of fruitless dates on Zoom and park benches, Rehkopf was ready to remove dating apps from her phone. But, before her, she agreed to meet one last man in a wine bar in Smyrna.

But the day before his date with Woolard, a 46-year-old liquor distributor, Rehkopf received a double dose of bad news. She learned that her marketing job was being cut off and that a neurological issue was forcing her to schedule a CT scan. She also began to experience symptoms which she said were signs of COVID-19.

“Here I have to say to this guy I’ve never met, ‘I don’t know if you believe me or not, but I’m in quarantine now and I can’t see you tomorrow,” “recalled. Rehkopf, whose scan went well.

Feeling ill, Woolard offered to drop off a case of wine. When he arrived at Rehkopf’s house the following afternoon, Rehkopf greeted him behind a glass door. Surprising even herself, she invited him to stay for a socially distanced drink under his carport.

When Ian Woolard and Leigh Anne Rehkopf had to cancel their first scheduled date due to Rehkopf's quarantine, Woolard offered to drop off a case of wine at her house, and the two ended up having a social date. distant in the carport.  (STEVE SCHAEFER FOR THE ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION)
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When Ian Woolard and Leigh Anne Rehkopf had to cancel their first scheduled date due to Rehkopf’s quarantine, Woolard offered to drop off a case of wine at her house, and the two ended up having a social date. distant in the carport. (STEVE SCHAEFER FOR THE ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION)

Credit: Steve Schaefer

Credit: Steve Schaefer

The two ended up talking for six hours, weaving their way through three bottles of red wine and one of Rehkopf’s huge music playlists that included everything from Taylor Swift to 1990s trip hop artists.

“There was that immediate connection,” Woolard said. “We just knew there was something bad here.”

When he got up to leave, he insisted on kissing Rehkopf, damn COVID.

“I met my soul mate,” Rehkopf said. She was so sure of it, she added: “I immediately made an appointment with my therapist so as not to sabotage anything.

Rehkopf ended up testing negative for the coronavirus. Woolard recently listed his condo in Midtown and moved in with Rehkopf in Smyrna until they could find their forever home. He intends to propose once they do.

To exploreHow marriages were changed during lockdown

They said it:

“I listen to the CDC, but a lot of the guys I meet on these dating apps really don’t care. They still live their lifestyle as if COVID never happened. ” – Miriam Nava, 23, Sandy Springs

“I have no problem asking (the dates) ‘what did you do today?’ If I feel like you’ve gone out too much, you’ve done too much, I’ll just back off. – Rolanda Powell, 39, Center Hill

“(COVID) makes it awkward. If you have a first date and you hook up, maybe you’d bend over and kiss or something. But, because there is this global pandemic, you don’t know if that might even be acceptable. ” – Ian Woolard, 46, Atlanta

“The business is more profitable during COVID than it was before. ” – Jennifer Miotke, President, Individual Matchmaking

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