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This week, we put three Daily Arts Writers to the test: they picked a subject they could immerse themselves in, then wrote a first-person narrative about their experience.

About me

He laughed as I lamented that I was on the verge of downloading dating apps— both to pass the time, and to pull a Carrie Brhaw by placing myself in the center of the most interesting topic in my young, single life: dating in quarantine.

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It has low stakes. Being single in quarantine means dating apps, Zoom calls and for some, phone sex. If you have feelings for someone, or had been on the precipice of a potential relationship prior to the national emergency, the best you can do is lengthy FaceTime calls, the sharing of playlists and far off fantasies of just holding hands. Prospective relationships or potential flings may have dissolved with the onset of social distancing and led us down a path of disparate loneliness. Has COVID ruined casual dating, hookup culture and single life, or has it just forced a change in perspective?

Does it exist in the awkward six feet between us? Will the reward of a potential ificant other be worth the risk? The bar was packed with well over twenty-one and twenty-two year olds, still tanned from their various spring break getaways a week prior, brushing shoulders carelessly and drunkenly spilling drinks on one another. Hips swayed to the same music that always played, plastic pitchers were discarded, cleaned and refilled with vodka cranberry. The air was a sticky mix of beer, sweat, perfume and desire. We bumped into people we knew or barely knew and met strangers amidst drunken shouts and blurred vision.

We watched as people who just met two hours prior ducked into the still bitter Michigan March air, hand in hand. We watched as friends sipped out of the same pitcher and passed around their drinks with ease. Others locked lips publically with strangers they found attractive, leaning up against the wall, drink in hand.

We were no better than the rest of them.

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We were doing what we always did — a college Saturday night out — sharing germs, promoting and spreading casual interaction like hot wildfire. Places like Skeeps practically thrive on singles in their 20s — people who want to dress up, pregame and go out with their friends. People who want to be around other people. Is this hypervigilance driven by anxiety? Two months ago, both of these things would be routine.

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A study done through Reportlinker and published in Bustle found that 37 percent of people say a primary way of meeting other singles is in bars or public areas. The ways we are evolving to online meeting and dating is to be expected, yet it entirely alters the world of romantic relationships.

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I am intrigued by our innate human desire for connection — texting strangers, doing our makeup carefully, even just for a virtual date. According to a September study done by a Stanford University scientist, meeting online has become the most popular way for singles to meet and connect today.

Of course, this survey was done when we had the full range and freedom to mingle with anyone — whenever and wherever we wanted to. The minute we were locked in our homes with a stream of bad news on television and banana bread baking habits, we all ran to download, redownload or simply open up Bumble, Tinder and Hinge. The typical verbiage surrounding applications like Tinder suggests that most people are utilizing these networks just for sex — but the aforementioned study found 91 percent of college students say they download dating apps for more than just hookups.

Around me, my peers are actively using these apps to meet singles.

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Quarantine has afforded us the ability to use dating apps like Tinder to make actual connections with a larger potential for a relationship post social distancing. Those quarantined without ificant others are in the heat of a lack of intimacy—and are making up for it with virtual dates with nearby strangers.

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New Jersey resident Emily Munch, 24, has been quarantined with four friends and her new boyfriend as of Mid-March in New York City since the beginning of the pandemic. Despite being recently taken herself, one of the friends she was quarantined with entered the pandemic single and has been using Hinge since. Now my friend might go on a real date with one of the guys after the quarantine. She says that the pandemic forced her and her new boyfriend to see one another for an extended period of time without distraction, something their work schedules would not have permitted otherwise.

This foundation was built by way of the quarantine, and would have taken longer to construct otherwise. People are in dire need of real life connection, the dating world is ready to thrive again.

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Munch makes an interesting point. By way of online dating and virtual relationship platforms and meeting online, face to face, real life dating will thrive post quarantine. When our routines are unexpectedly pulled out from underneath us, we crave them more intensely. According to a New York Post survey of 1, people quarantined without a ificant other, 67 percent of respondents felt a larger desire for physical intimacy due to social distancing—hence the immediate download of dating apps. The survey, conducted by OnePoll, also found that 37 percent of singles have reached out to an ex ificant other during the duration of quarantine.

It additionally found that 2 in 5 participants 42 percent have downloaded a dating app during the duration of quarantine.

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One can also assume many of the individuals were already on dating apps prior to quarantine and either resparked a habit, or continued as usual. These online dating conventions can lead to intense, mutual and virtual connection — and even in person meet ups for the more adventurous.

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University of Michigan rising senior Julia Woodson broke up with her boyfriend before going home to quarantine, and wound up taking to dating apps to pass the time. The silver lining?

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She actually found someone she wanted to meet up with. I ended up driving across the state just to see him for a night. And I hope that the comfort found in building this friendship and relationship from Tinder will last past quarantine. She also said that she feels dating during quarantine has given many the opportunity to get to know people without the pressure being on sex.

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Location permitting, these dating apps have been a nice way to connect us with those individuals around us whom we already know, but never had the chance to associate with otherwise. Perhaps internet relationships crossing international borders will thrive post quarantine as well. In the age of COVID, many of us just want to feel human connection and affection outside of our parents and siblings and roommates.

I never in my life imagined I would be desperately yearning for small talk with a stranger, and yet here we are. Molly Foulkes, 21, a recent University of Michigan graduate, said her experience with dating during the quarantine has provided her with a reflection on single life, and thus changed her entire outlook on post quarantine dating. Though quarantine has removed us from our typical dating habits and the relative regularity of hookup culture, perhaps there will be positive consequences on our lack of ability to date normally at this time.

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I hope dating will be more old fashioned and turn to courtship versus get my at a bar and come home with me 2 hours later. Our search for romance is important to us. Our desire for human connection, moreso. Perhaps single Americans took the ability to freely hookup for granted when there were no restrictions on who we could and could not, or should and should not see.

There certainly will be an aftertaste of the COVID pandemic on every facet of our world for a long time to come. But within all of these consequences, some may shed positive light onto different spheres of life, one possibility being the world of dating. But is part of me looking forward to the lift of quarantine and our cautious tiptoe back into our daily routines, even eventually, our casual dating lives? Yes — honestly, even moreso.

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I think love has always been worth a risk. It is the chase for love, after all, that so many of us crave.

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All of that said, with masks covering our mouths in public places and caution written in the six feet between pairs of eyes, there will still be love, still be affection, still be the coquettish fumbles at the beginnings of romance. People will find ways to meet, because it is in our carnal nature to want to meet other people, get to know one another and maybe even fall for each other.

Currently, I sit on my porch in my pajamas, the thought of doing makeup or my hair to go anywhere beyond unimaginable, talking to my mother about Hinge — something that did not exist when she was my age — which she finds to be a great way for a generation that cannot be separated from our devices to meet.

She met my father when she was my age, the summer after she graduated college, and did not yet own a cell phone. Her reality at 22 was starkly different than the one my generation now faces. She peers over my shoulder to look at what I imagine to be my well curated, funny profile. I consider her advice briefly, though my profile already answers the question: what is your irrational fear? No matter the change, the circumstance or the challenge, I decide that I think love will win after the dust of this has settled.

Because love does win. It always has. Save my name,and website in this browser for the next time I comment.

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