We’re in the middle of the cuffing season, the time of year when dating activity spikes as more singles actively seek out long-term relationships. The 2020 cuffing season might, at first glance, be at odds with the reality of the ongoing surge in the Covid-19 pandemic and the latest round of stay-at-home contracts in the U.S.
Far more than one season, however, 2020 could more appropriately be called the Cuffing Year, as it has caused a seismic shift in the number of people who approached the search for love in 2020.
“People are more into dating,” says Rachel DeAlto, Match’s chief dating expert. (Full disclosure: I’ve worked with Match before.) Match introduced new features in 2020 such as: B. Match dates where members can show serious interest and go to a separate inbox where they can video chat. According to DeAlto, Match’s in-app video usage has increased and will remain a feature after Covid-19. “We do not want to [people] wasting their time. We want to help you make these deliberate connections and all we do is support it. ”
For Maria Maisto, 44, a massage therapist in Los Angeles, dating in 2020 was a better and more successful experience than it was before Covid-19. Maisto met her boyfriend on the dating app Bumble in the spring. Because of her work with patients with compromised immune systems and her own fear of contracting the virus, she has been vigilant when it comes to taking safety precautions for Covid-19. Her early appointments took place through FaceTime and then moved on to outdoor activities, all of which were socially distant wearing masks. It was a month before they had their first kiss.
Aside from the Covid-19 fears, Maisto says, “Dating during Covid is absolutely easier. Until now I didn’t realize how many distractions there were and how many judgments you keep making. “
In Zurich, 44-year-old relationship trainer and matchmaker Kelly Brändli had her first date with her current boyfriend on March 7th after connecting via a dating app. Local lockdown orders went into effect a week later. They initially stuck to video data as they were both very concerned about Covid-19. They felt a strong connection and wanted to minimize their health risk. They decided to move in together. After receiving negative Covid-19 test results, her boyfriend and son moved in with Brändli and her son on April 3.
Brändli knows the risks of living together with someone you have known for less than a month. “Moving in with someone I had just met showed me how quickly I’d left someone out in the past. When I was forced to stick it out, even if I found something I didn’t initially like, I could see all of the amazing other traits that he would have missed. I can speak from experience, I made 95 first dates before I met him. ”
While she reports that their relationship is going well, Brändli and her new partner signed Covid-19 in October. They had mild symptoms and both were able to continue working from home during their illness. Brändli regrets nothing. “I remember thinking that if things get worse and I end up in the hospital, I’ll forever be grateful to have this man by my side right now.”
Other professionals in the love industry agree that 2020 is the year of serious relationships. Love expert and TV personality Paul C. Brunson declared 2020 the “best time in human history to date if you want a relationship”. Professional matchmaker Amy Van Doran was forced to bring her personal boutique matchmaking business online when bans were imposed in New York City in March. Van Doran initially feared Covid-19 would destroy her 15-year-old company. “I interviewed over 10,000 people in person on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. At first I thought this was the end of my career. But a crazy thing happened. People began to care about love. I saw the trend of endlessly dating for the sport and always looking for the next best stop. People craved a real connection and focused on how to function with the person they were with rather than trying to find a way to find a reason to ditch one person and move on to the next. ”
Van Doran is no longer a “hyper-local” New York matchmaker and now suits couples around the world. “The business is up 40 percent and the games I make are continuing.”
For some, 2020 was not about finding a new romantic relationship, but rather strengthening an existing one. 36-year-old Tiffany Yarde has seen a change in their relationship this year due to the forced physical separation from her partner, who is also her co-founder at the startup. As 2020 began, business and personal frustrations threatened their relationship. “In January I asked myself: Are we together just to make money? Where did my best friend go? Should we just have remained friends? We haven’t touched in months … we won’t do it this way. ”
Then came Covid-19 and a three month breakup while Yarde stayed in California to take care of business while her partner was in New York. Then the healing began. “We had 8 p.m. PST / 11 p.m. EST as a block of time where we jumped on the House Party app, played a silly game together, and then talked. Sometimes we thought we didn’t just have to listen to each other anymore. “They began to have more meaningful discussions about their relationship, and now that they’re back on the same coast, Yarde says their connection, personally and professionally, is stronger than ever. “We stopped glossing over things or getting back to our safety, talking about work and not talking about each other emotionally.”
Yarde isn’t the only one appreciating a deeper level of romantic connection. In Match’s annual Singles In America report, released this fall, 50,000 US dates answered questions about what to look for in 2020. 53% said they want more serious relationships than they did before the Covid-19 pandemic. 63% of respondents said they spent more time getting to know potential partners, while 69% admitted being more honest with potential partners.
While these dates look promising for singles looking for a relationship, Los Angeles-based dating coach and relationship expert Damona Hoffman has seen another, less encouraging trend in recent months. “At the beginning of the pandemic, people were more interested in serious relationships, but when the second wave hit, many of them feel tired with dating apps and less hopeful that they will connect – especially with the cold weather and dating For many, the outdoors are a thing of the past. ”
Krystle Edwards, 33, had hoped 2020 would be the year she found love. But after months on the apps, she now feels like the year is a wash on the dating front. She has been more selective about the ways she engages with dating apps, but sees that her own behavior falls short of her intentions. “I would consider my dating behavior to be a sleep-deprived dreamer.”
“I was busy with dating apps before Covid-19 and while I think there are more options, I feel that dating apps are just right for some people as it seems like a safe option, Meeting People … open the door to more people who want to pick up just one person as bars, museums and other pre-covid socializing options are limited. ”
David Johns, 38, a self-described “teacher, disturber, and dreamer”, experienced the benefits and challenges of dating in 2020. Washington DC-based Johns says, “The pandemic has the practical concerns that I have about dating as a Black same-sex male. In addition to the usual increased risks of HIV transmission due to systemic racism and other factors, Johns found that Covid-19 was a complication that has forced him to be more introspective and creative with his dating, which is paying off. Describing himself as a more confident dater, Johns is currently dating someone who recently surprised him by reciting an original love poem in a voicemail message. “It feels like more men are looking for meaningful, engaging relationships.” About the poem, Johns says: “That never happened before Covid.”
Dating platform OkCupid has seen its users welcome “a mix of deeper conversation and more romance through digital and virtual dating,” called “slow dating.” While it’s too early to say for sure whether the slow dating shift will continue after the Covid-19 pandemic, OkCupid predicts it will last through 2021.
There is evidence that some of the new dating behavior for 2020 will be permanent. As matchmaker Amy Van Doran says, “When we get out of the trauma of 2020, hopefully we’ll stick with these lessons we learned about the importance of love.”