Hooking Up in the Covid Era

Anna, who is 29 and asked to be identified by her middle name to protect her high-profile job in Washington, D.C., said that the pandemic made her feel pressured. “At my age, if people aren’t already married, they’re starting to get serious — about marriage, about having kids,” she said. “For people who are together, their timetables are speeding up because the pandemic is forcing them to make decisions. Whereas single people, you can’t get back that year of your life.”

In August, she flew to Chicago to meet a man she had been texting and talking to on FaceTime for a month. “You need the physical meeting,” she said. “I’m not even saying sex. You could decide you hate someone because of the way they chew.”

The two of them spent a weekend in a hotel. “He was the only person I have been intimate with in 10 months,” Anna said. She said she would not want to meet in person with a stranger on a dating app. In this case, she knew where her date worked, and that his job would require him to undergo background checks and follow stringent Covid-19 safety guidelines.

“As a single person, it’s very hard,” said Laura Khalil, 40, a podcast producer and host in Detroit. Her parents, who live nearby, are part of a high-risk group and she is scared of infecting them. “I couldn’t even touch my family,” Ms. Khalil said.

In August, she decided to try dating again. After a few unsuccessful walking dates, she met a match at an outdoor cafe. They had as normal a date as one can have in a pandemic, mask-free, and afterward Ms. Khalil went for a coronavirus test and self-quarantined.

“I knew he was working from home, he had a pod, and he was not going out,” she said. “Do I trust you? Do I believe you? Those are things we can’t know. I can only assume and hope that you’re not lying to me.”

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