Covid-19 has had a diverse effect on dating, relationships, and hook-up culture. Now that lockdown restrictions have been extended until April, Covid will continue to undermine the dating scene, especially since it’s a lot harder to find love within your 5km travel limit.

Although the government has placed a ban on meeting with other households in an indoor setting, people are still meeting up and hooking up with new partners, often outweighing their emotional and physical needs against safety concerns, because people crave social interaction. 

Those already in relationships or situationships, who have been more cautious of their social contacts have stuck to zoom dates or facetime calls. But it’s the many people who were yet to meet their significant other when Covid restrictions hit Ireland in March 2020, who have flocked to dating sites to spark some connections.

Dating virtually and trying to meet a partner during a global pandemic is difficult, especially when the opportunity of finally having a first date seems to move further and further away as social restrictions continue to be extended. 

There was a brief uplift in the dating scene last summer when restrictions eased in Ireland, it was a fleeting moment for dating and hook-up culture to revive itself, before the second wave hit and dates in pubs or restaurants, along with casual sex encounters and one-night stands became a distant memory.

When lockdown was reintroduced, engagement with online dating sites began to soar, as singletons flocked to dating sites like Tinder and Bumble. On a peak day in March 2020, Tinder recorded more than three billion ‘swipes’ on the platform, the highest single-day activity volume in the app’s history. 

But with Covid numbers consistently increasing, first dates and casual hook-ups have a cautionary measure to it. 

DCU student Niamh Quinlan (21) took to online dating sites when the pandemic hit, but felt the risk of spreading Covid was more important than her dating life. 

“So, I used Tinder for a bit, I went on it and would be swiping away, but every time I matched with someone, I wouldn’t take it anywhere past texting. 

“I was always too afraid to meet up and going on a date with someone in case they ended up testing positive and I brought the virus back to my house.

“Any time a lad would suggest a date I’d just say no because I felt too guilty, it wouldn’t be fair on my housemates.

“And so now I’m single.” Said Quinlan. 

The pandemic completely decimated the dating scene, as fluctuating Covid regulations and the risk of spreading a potentially lethal virus impacted the romantic lives of millions of people, hook-up culture began to be a thing of the past. 

Hook-up culture has become an important key part of dating in the 21st century, it is defined as a brief uncommitted sexual encounter between individuals who are not romantic partners nor are they dating each other. 

Hook-ups became more frequent in the past 50 years, as adults became more sexually liberated, along with the rise of feminism and widespread availability of birth control, as redefining the sexual norms has become increasingly typical and socially acceptable. 

Although some people may call themselves ‘old-fashioned’ and believe in more ‘traditional dating’, today’s hook-up culture represents a shift in openness and acceptance of uncommitted sex. 

Thanks to dating apps like Tinder and Bumble, the revolution of hook-up culture sparked an honest and open conversation regarding sex, this healthy view of modern romance needs to survive throughout the pandemic.



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