College students are finding love in the time of COVID.

Dating as a college student is already hard enough, and once you add a global pandemic into the mix, it only gets harder. The virus not only limits how close you can be to a stranger, but it has also placed restrictions on businesses’ hours, which makes it harder to find a time to get together. The icing on the cake is if you are fairly COVID-conscious, you can’t see their face until you feel safe.

Christina LaFreniere, a 20-year-old sophomore at Maryville College, met her boyfriend in September of 2020 when COVID regulations and restrictions were still in full swing. She looks back at the dating scene just a few months ago and notes that if you were going out, you had to be pretty creative with where you would go for your first date. COVID regulations include shortened hours for many businesses, as well as many restaurants only being open for carry-out. 

To avoid any awkward assumptions or difficulties due to virus restrictions, LaFreniere and her boyfriend openly discussed their views regarding the virus before they went out for the first time. They made the best of an unusual situation. Their first date wasn’t a trip to the movies with a dinner following suit; it was a trip to Dunkin’  and a walk around MC’s campus. Though this is not a typical first date for many people, LaFreniere looked back on it fondly.

Both LaFreniere and Cierra Fontanelle, a 21-year-old junior at MC, remark that first dates are far less awkward than they were before the virus. The reason behind this observation lies in the fact that people are almost forced to get to know one another through messaging and video calls since getting together is such a risk and struggle. Through this they are able to get the introductory stuff out of the way. 

“It allows for me to have time to truly get to know someone, and I’ll know if it is worth it to go on the date with them or not,” admits Fontanelle in reference to texting a person before ever meeting them. 

Unfortunately, even with this added “getting to know each other” period, dates are still difficult to figure out. Fontanelle laments this as she describes how being extra cautious is necessary, but also makes meeting anyone far more difficult. When asked about how she stayed cautious when first meeting her boyfriend, LaFreniere mentioned that both her and her boyfriend were tested and assured they were COVID-negative before ever meeting. This helped to ease their worries. 

However, not everyone is willing to get tested for a first date or even be cautious at all. Though Fontanelle states, “I also ask the questions as to if they’ve been exposed or near anyone who could have had COVID,” she still worries that the person she is meeting could have the virus and not even know it. This fear is what keeps her sticking to FaceTime dates and frequent texts. 

Though it doesn’t seem that COVID is leaving anytime soon and thus the restrictions, college students are trying to make the best of a bad situation. Technology allows them to get to know each other in a way that feels personal but doesn’t put anyone at risk. It is a difficult time to try and find love, but college students are some creative, resilient people.

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