Cincinnati Enquirer: COVID-19 vaccine becomes Cupid's helper

UC psychiatrist offers tips for re-entering the dating scene following the pandemic

Swiping left and right is now commonplace in the dating world.  

Add clever bios, your best photos and a good pick-up line, and you're golden. 

Presenting the best version of yourself online for potential romance is already difficult, but in the midst of a pandemic, it was even harder. Now, with Moderna, Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson, love is becoming easier to find. 

However, some are nervous about taking those first steps to discovering love after the pandemic.

We've all spent a year hearing about all the things we shouldn't do; now, we're being told, 'Okay, if you're vaccinated, you can resume your social activities.' But it's one thing to hear that. It's another thing to really believe that at a deep emotional level.

Caleb Adler, MD

Caleb Adler, MD, professor of psychiatry and behavioral neuroscience at the University of Cincinnati and a UC Health psychiatrist, says there's a sense of natural anxiety that comes with being out of the dating game for a while — especially when the apps are put aside. 

"Think about when you walk up to somebody in a bar," he says. "You are taking a very real risk of rejection face-to-face. On an app, swipe one way and maybe they swipe, maybe they don't. There's no real contact there, it makes things easier.

"If dating apps didn't exist, this would be a great time to invent them. They can help alleviate anxiety for people getting back into dating. And of course, many will probably have some residual anxiety around COVID. I mean, we've all spent a year hearing about all the things we shouldn't do; now we're being told, 'OK, if you're vaccinated, you can resume your social activities.' But it's one thing to hear that. It's another thing to really believe that at a deep emotional level."

Read the full Cincinnati Enquirer story, which also includes first-hand experiences from UC students.

masked couple holding hands

Dating was hard during the pandemic, but now, vaccines are making it possible to begin the hunt for love again. Photo/Jasmin Chew/Unsplash

Adler offered a few additional suggestions for post-pandemic dating:

  1. Set Priorities: "It can be helpful to set priorities for what one ultimately wants from dating — a long-term relationship, a short-term relationship, a hook-up; I’m not weighing in as to what someone should be seeking, just suggesting that setting one’s goals explicitly can be helpful. For one thing, how one goes about looking for a relationship and for what one looks is likely to vary depending on one’s dating goals."
  2. Take it slow: "It might be helpful to start out by resuming social activities in general, which can lead to meeting individuals with shared interests — which isn’t a bad thing if one is seeking a longer-term relationship."
  3. Reassess standards: "While on the COVID-19 social hiatus, many people may have built up expectations as to future dating partners. There’s nothing wrong with setting standards, but it might be helpful to take the time to consciously examine those standards to assess how important individual criteria might be. And don’t use friends’ relationships as a bench mark for one’s own; different people look for different things in romantic partners."
  4. Remember, you have plenty of time: "It shouldn’t be a surprise to find oneself feeling an urge to move a relationship along quickly after hiding away for a year. It might be helpful, though, to pause for a self-reminder that there’s no rush and to avoid moving things along more quickly than is comfortable. The other side of that point is that one should be careful not to let oneself be pushed by a new partner into moving faster than one might like; new partners may be feeling the post-COVID dating rush as well. And despite impressions to the contrary, there are still plenty of people to meet. Even in Cincinnati."

Featured photo at top courtesy of Unsplash

Impact Lives Here

The University of Cincinnati is leading public urban universities into a new era of innovation and impact. Our faculty, staff and students are saving lives, changing outcomes and bending the future in our city's direction. Next Lives Here.

Stay up to date on all UC's COVID-19 stories, or take a UC virtual visit and begin picturing yourself at an institution that inspires incredible stories.