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Friday, December 8, 2023 | Back issues
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Dating in the age of Covid no romantic picnic, poll finds

Love hurts. Love bites. Or so the songs say. And during the pandemic at least, singles say love is most definitely not a many-splendored thing.

(CN) — Between deciding whether Covid vaccination is a bright-line requirement of potential romantic partners and the political chasm that seems to mark every inch of our lives today, singles agree love in the time of the pandemic is complicated.

To learn about how the pandemic affected dating — an important milestone in family formation — Pew researchers polled 2,616 single American adults in February.

While a majority of single dater said they don’t care whether or not a potential date is vaccinated, 41% said they would only date someone who is vaccinated. A small share, 2%, will only date people not vaccinated against Covid-19. While only 14% of Republicans want to exclusively date vaccinated singles, 55% of Democrats shared the view.

“We’re seeing another facet of rising polarization that's playing out even in the dating landscape,” explained Anna Brown, a Pew research associate who contributed to the research. “We found that in the attitudes about whether someone would date someone who was or was not vaccinated, was really strongly linked to political party affiliation in the survey.”

In all, nearly two thirds of single adults who are looking for love found dating harder now than before the pandemic. Nearly a third reported the scene as the same. Only three percent consider dating easier now than it was before 2020.

And some aren't dating at all: While 28% of people polled who weren't dating cited Covid-19 concerns as a reason to avoid the dating pool, other reasons were much more prominent, including enjoying being single, 72%, having other priorities, 63%, and just being too busy, 43%.

Thirteen percent of women cited contracting Covid-19 as a reason why they weren’t dating, compared to 6% of men.

Pew's poll did not parse out whether this reflected respondents' stage in life or direct experiences in the pandemic. A 2019 survey found more young people had never been in a relationship, compared with older singles. The median age of people who reported they had never been in a relationship worked out to 24 years old. The median age of people who had been in a relationship was 35.

“There was an interesting story here where daters who are younger than 30, they are the most likely to say that dating has gotten harder during the pandemic,” Brown said. “Then they're also at least twice as likely as any other age group to say that the Covid outbreak has made them much more interested in a committed relationship.”

This year, more than half of singles, 56%, said they weren’t looking for a relationship at all, a 6 point increase from 2019. About a third of singles who were looking for relationships said they only wanted commitment, while 16% wanted a casual affair, and half were open to whatever happens.

Gauging preferences in 2019, Pew previously found politics shaped other hard passes for daters: 26% of singles interested in a relationship said they would not date someone who had voted for Hillary Clinton and 47% said they would not date someone who voted for Trump; 27% were opposed to dating a Republican entirely, while only 11% said they would refuse to date a Democrat.

In addition to political trends, Pew observed some cohesion among age groups. People younger than 30 were more likely to say dating became more difficult during the pandemic compared with people over 30.

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Categories / Health, Science

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