Open Relationship and Inclusive Dating Blog

Dating After Distancing: How the Pandemic Reshaped Modern Romance

man wearing mask during pandemic

It wasn’t that long ago that one of the most socially transformative periods of modern life occurred. For many of us, we’re trying to forget it. To be clear, we’re not rehashing anything today. Instead, we’re looking towards how the COVID-19 pandemic helped reshape and steer today’s modern, open relationship dating.

The open relationship and modern dating landscape is undoubtedly changed forever. Much of that is a good thing which is where we’ll focus our scribes.

It was March of 2020.

The news was ablaze with an incoming pandemic that had triggered social and business lockdowns across Europe.

The images running across the news were lonely and fearful.

Eventually, those same regulations made way to the United States and gave way to a numerous social challenges, some of which we still feel today.

The isolation which eventually ensnared our nation had initial debilitating affects on dating. Bars and coffee shops shut down. Restaurants, once lively meet up spots, were locked up. People were no longer seeing one another in work offices. Almost every potential connection point had been severed.

This new world began to prompt the mass use of dating websites. And that’s where the good side of this story begins to take shape.

The Rise of Digital Dating Platforms

The pandemic’s social hindering created a crucial necessity for the acceleration of dating websites and platforms. The shift from physical to virtual interaction due to social distancing forced people who previously felt a disdain or discomfort to online dating to change course. Otherwise, you were single without the mingle for an unforeseen length of time.

In fact, research published by Statista Research Department in February of 2024 show a vast increase of online dating platform usage that’s directly related to the implications of the shutdown.

Share of adults in the United States who have increased or decreased their usage of dating apps or sites since the COVID-19 pandemic as of October 2023
Share of adults in the United States who have increased or decreased their usage of dating apps or sites since the COVID-19 pandemic as of October 2023

One of the most accelerated adaptions was video meetings. Today, we can’t imagine life without Zoom. And although these video conferencing technologies were certainly around prior, their widespread use adaption can be traced back to people wanting to connect with other people during the pandemic.

Video conferencing helped people maintain their current relationships as well as interact with new people.

Many dating apps were quick to the draw on this technology, often leveraging their own conferencing platforms.

As comfort grew, many people saw the distinct benefits to video conferencing. For starters, it was a safer option for an initial meeting with a potential partner.

But there’s more to it than that when it comes to open relationships and their connection to the pandemic.

The Post-Pandemic Open Relationships Journey

Lets be honest – open relationships can feel cluttered. Mo’ people, mo’ confusion.

When more people were ushered into using technology for communications, people in open relationship communities were not immune. And it immediately paid dividends.

Technology became an essential tool for managing and scheduling open relationships. Many apps help partners manage other partners’ schedules, preferences, and communications. Everything is streamlined.

The pandemic also necessitated more frequent and clearer communication about subjects such as boundaries, health and safety, and personal comfort. We’d discussed ad nauseam the great need for impactful communications in open relationships; the pandemic helped progress modern dating communication to a better level.

Partners had to be more vigilant and transparent about their health status and the status of other partners.

Partners had to be more attentive to disclosing boundaries or various partners.

The pandemic, in some ways, helped course correct open relationships whereas communications may have been faltering.

The constraints and challenges of the pandemic often forced individuals and groups in open relationships to reevaluate their relationship structures.

It was also a period of time that gave individuals time to reflect on what they truly value in their open relationships.

Virtual dates, which almost always accelerate communication, shifted dating behaviors significantly. The pace in some ways slowed down as communication became more vital.

Restrictions Lifted, But Much Was Changed

Eventually, little by little, shuttered restaurants were happy hour scenes again. Bars turned on lights and served martinis and peanuts. There were less and less masks.

But ultimately, many behavioral changes from those two years remained engrained and stay with us today.

The pandemic was a stressful period for many, and those in open relationships were no exception. People in open relationships understood that managing greater emotional bandwidth could be neutralized through the use of modern technology. Technology helped sooth feelings such as loneliness, jealousy, and insecurity, which were heightened during our great separation.

Online communities and virtual support became vital, allowing those in open relationships to share advice, experiences, and support in navigating the pandemic’s challenges.

Alas, while many of us harbor some pretty depressing and even angry sentiments about the COVID-19 shutdown, its difficult to ignore the many benefits that came out of it. Our use of technology for enhanced communications in the modern dating world has ushered in a better experience for many of us. In many ways, online dating is safer, open relationships more organized, and the modern dating pool is much more expansive than it was before.