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Dating during COVID: How did we do?

Singles still managed to find each other.

MINNEAPOLIS — Here's something else that the pandemic took a big bite out of.

Dating. 

Last year, while we were in full lockdown mode, I reached out to Twin Cities singles to see how they are managing to find each other - because being alone during lock down was a scary concept for many.

Well, with one year under our belts of living with COVID, I wanted to check in again with singles to see how things have changed. 

With news of the COVID-19 pandemic came the shutting down of dating as we knew it.

We took work, family gatherings and hangouts online. And dating, too, became virtual.

Now with restrictions lifted in many places, the landscape of romance has shifted again. So what does dating look like now?

"I was single, I had gotten a divorce a few years previously," Tiffany Norton said. "Empty-nester, my child, he is 22, so I was living alone, dipping in and out of the dating app world."

Back then, with the lockdown looming, she thought she might try one more time on the apps. That's where she met Bryan.

"Going back into it, I did it with fresher eyes, and yeah we met and we had read a lot of the same books," Norton said. "I wanted that, I wanted someone who was educated, and you know, someone who liked to read. He had like an English lit degree, all that stuff from U of M, I was like 'oh God.'"

Matched, and together since October of last year.

Her advice?

"Don't take it too seriously. It's just dating," she said with a laugh. She agreed it was easier said than done.

However, that's the kind of advice that came from Lisa Evanson as well - to have fun with it.

"I've really come to terms with: if someone isn't into me or they lose interest, then good," Evanson said. "I want to know that my full self, being as expressive as I am as a person is going to attract the right type of people."

Sure, seeing people while staying safe was difficult when we didn't know anything about the virus.

"When it was still in the wake of things, like in April, we met outside, and masks were off. I was playing it really safe," Evanson said. "I was not having contact with anyone else, and had dinner at each other's places. What else could you do at the time?" 

But if there was a silver lining to locking down and staying home, Lisa says she spent quality time with the person she wanted to get to know better.

"Self care is not selfish," Evanson said. "I'm proud of the little wins I've been able to make. I just feel like I've refocused on family, I've refocused on myself."

In terms of the changing dating scenes, Misha Estrin has been pretty tuned in.

"I wanted to start organizing singles meet ups and meet ups to help people make friends and connections," Estrin said. "Because I always felt like an outlier, I always felt like I didn't belong."

During peak lockdowns he took the meet ups to Zoom. As for now, he's focused on holding more in-person events.

"When I hear people say that they found someone that's improved their life, that's helped them level up and grow, that makes me feel like the best in the world," Estrin said.

So he'll keep hosting those events around town. And his advice for those just starting to bloom into the dating sphere is helpful.

"I would say focus on approaching people with no intention to date them, with no intention to get anything out of the interaction," Estrin said. "And if you vibe, then find a time date and location to meet up and continue the connection, and if you don't then you didn't lose anything."