“I decided if I find someone I like, I’m just going to dive in 100 percent. You don’t have the luxury of keeping it casual for longer — it’s like, let’s do this or not. With the guy I’m seeing now, we didn’t even kiss for a long time. It was like a month in. It’s like old-school courting. We held hands, that was a big thing. We finally removed our masks and kissed. I felt like we were in the ’50s.”
-Alyssa Jung, 35, furniture designer, Seattle
“In January 2020, we started working on a theater project together. Because of the pandemic we started to FaceTime each other on a regular basis. Finally, one day in May or June, he decided to take the risk to come visit me. He wore layers of clothes, and wrapped himself in plastic and masks just to travel 40 minutes to see me. We finally became officially boyfriends in September.”
-Dennis Yueh-Yeh Li, 34, theater director, New York City
“It seems like people are trying to ignore the fact that there’s a pandemic but also being very paranoid about it. Everyone wants to be safe, until the date actually starts. And then people are like: We should be holding hands, we should kiss. Like it’s a regular date. I gauge it on whether I can trust the person. And if I can’t, I’m like, I don’t feel comfortable.”
-Joseph Jones, 32, bar manager, D.C.
“There’s all of these beats built into an in-person date. Like: getting seated, looking at the menu, waiting for your order. But with a Zoom date it’s purely talking. The focus is 100 percent on the person on the other side of the screen. If you’re at a restaurant and you get up to use the bathroom, you’re still in a physical place together, so the date doesn’t just end. With a Zoom date it ends when someone has to use the bathroom. You’re like: Are you going to wait while I go to the bathroom? It’s pretty weird.”
-Casey Roonan, 29, art educator, Providence, R.I.
“The dating pool for people who are transgender is pretty small and the dating pool for people who are old is also small. When you’re both transgender and old? It’s an eyedropper of a dating pool. I’ve made a couple of dates where we were going to go out and meet at a place, but they were canceled because of a massive spike in cases in Monroe County. And time is really weird in covid, so one day goes into another, goes into another, and we lost touch with each other. So I have had exactly one date during the pandemic.”
-Penny Sterling, 61, storyteller, Rochester, N.Y.