It wasn’t just bars, restaurants and movie theaters that shut down in March 2020. Quarantine and lockdown also meant that for many, their social lives hung out a “Closed” sign as well.

Just as Zoom took over for the conference room for workplace meetings, so too did it and other virtual meeting apps replace in-person dating. But as Connecticut passes the 50 percent vaccination rate for its adult population, what will dating look like in the post-COVID world?

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Ila Sabino, PhD, Program Manager for the Institute of Living Division of Health Psychology, said that for many, it will likely be baby steps in their return to normalcy.

“Some people, having endured COVID-related illness and loss, may still feel hesitant to jump back into in-person dating, preferring to start slowly, with ‘virtual’ dates or outdoor meetups and then work their way up to meeting in-person,” she said.

The dating app Tinder has reported that 40 percent of its Generation Z users (born after 1997) said they will continue using video chats. On Hinge, 65 percent of American users who have been on video dates said they will keep going on them before meeting people in the real world.

But for many, being vaccinated is becoming as much of a selling point as a great salary or owning a beach house. The dating website OkCupid reported a 680 percent increase in the mention of the term “vaccinated” in users’ profiles in April compared to February.

“After a year of feeling isolated and restricted, some single people want to really let loose and have fun and meet lots of people, without getting bogged down in serious relationships,” Sabino noted.

She also said “the pandemic has helped many people get clarity around their personal values and priorities; this will carry over into their dating lives and help them connect with others in more honest, authentic ways.”

Above all, Sabino said people should do what they feel is best for them: “People need to exercise self-compassion and use positive coping strategies to manage anxiety as they ease back into dating; it’s been a difficult year for everyone and it’s OK to take things slowly and prioritize your health and well-being.”