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Courting During COVID: Navigating the dating world amid a global pandemic

As if dating wasn't already difficult, the pandemic is forcing singles to work around social distancing and more as they try to find love.

DES MOINES, Iowa — Dating and meeting new people can be scary, intimidating and nerve-wracking— now add on a global pandemic. 

A Pew Research Center study from October 2019 showed that nearly half of Americans thought dating was harder than it was 10 years ago.

Like every other industry known to man, the dating industry has been impacted by the coronavirus. 

Courtney Quinlan is a professional matchmaker; she owns Midwest Matchmaking. She told Local 5's Eva Andersen that her business is booming during the Coronavirus.

"The numbers have gone up in all areas of what we do— whether it's matchmaking or online dating," Quinlan said. "A lot of [my clients'] avenues that maybe they had used before to meet people are now something that either they're not available or they not comfortable doing."

So, to mask or not mask? Quinlan said to stick to a virtual night out (or in) if you're in doubt.

"What do you really have to lose? You can get ready from the waist up. You can sit in the comfort of your home. You don't have to worry about paying for parking— you don't even have to leave your house or put any miles on your car," Quinlan said. 

Melanie Mackey is a single woman who helps plan weddings, as the event coordinator at Iowa Taproom. Fnding her beau has been a bit tricky during the pandemic.

"People have to be a lot more interesting when you're virtually dating," said Mackey. "They can't just like snag you with the in-person charm."

She also said, in her experience on virtual "dates", people run out of things to talk about more quickly. 

"People run out of small talk really fast. And it's really difficult because the only thing that people want to talk about is COVID," she said.

So, what are some good topics to discuss? Quinlan said the light and fluffy conversations are perfect for first dates right now. 

Blake Shaw, a jazz bassist, found his (musical) match, Alyx Rush, a singer-songwriter, during the pandemic. The couple found that meaningful conversations moved their relationship faster. 

"We were forced to bond and learn more quickly," said Rush. "I mean it would’ve happened anyway, but we learn about each other in a short amount of time."

Shaw said that he appreciates Alyx's willingness to be a lifelong learner as well as his ability to appreciate his humor.

"He laughs at my really bad jokes sometimes," said Shaw. "I know people say that a lot, but that makes me feel so good."

The pair said the pandemic forced them to really focus on each other and strengthen their relationship.

As for Mackey, the swiping dance continues. Mackey said navigating social distancing can make for cute moments.

"They've been really upfront about where they say, you know, "we're closer than six feet apart, can we get any closer?" and it's really cute! It's like another pick-up line for them." 

The pandemic may have put a lot of things on hold around the world— but love isn't one of them. 


WATCH: Complete coronavirus coverage on Local 5's YouTube channel