Students avoid Tinder and Happn
Dating in the time of corona
Human resources management student Marijke is ready. She did her make-up, bought a bottle of wine, and told her roommates. Tonight is the night: she has a date with a guy she met on Happn. Nervously, she sits down in front of her phone, glass of wine in hand. Her date is not in real life; it’s taking place on the Houseparty app.
With the coronavirus putting an end to real-life dating, needs must. For Marijke, it’s the only way to meet up with a cute guy. After all, it wouldn’t do to flaunt the rules of quarantine.
An UKrant poll shows that students are dating much less than they were before the outbreak. 226 students responded to the Instagram poll, and no less than 86 percent said they weren’t dating as much as before.
That’s a good thing, says medical student Lora Reuvers (21), president of SCORA, a work group at the medical faculty that focuses on reproductive health and rights. ‘Estimating how much of a danger you might be is really difficult’, says Reuvers. ‘The rules apply to everyone: stay five feet away from people and practise social distancing.
The danger is really difficult to estimate
She adds: ‘Unfortunately, you can’t have sex if you have to stay five feet away from each other. Kissing also poses a risk, because you exchange saliva, which could contain the coronavirus.’
Students not only date less than they used to, they also spend less time on Tinder and Happn. 318 students responded to a question about these dating apps, with 64 percent saying they were using them less. Those who do spend time on the apps seem to have a fondness for corona-related pick-up lines, like ‘Are you coronavirus, ‘cause you just might turn my world upside down’ or ‘If corona doesn’t take you out, can I?’
Marijke has found the solution: dating over Houseparty. ‘I joked that we could have a video date, and in the end, we decided it was a good idea’, she says. ‘We agreed to meet that night at eight thirty, just like a real date.’
Picking up the phone was the most uncomfortable moment, she says. ‘But we both immediately had a glass of wine.’ When their respective glasses were empty, they walked to their fridges, phone in hand. Her date even played her a song on his guitar. Unfortunately, their internet connection was spotty. ‘The sound quality wasn’t great, the line crackled.’
In the end, her date lasted two hours and forty-eight minutes. ‘We both drank an entire bottle of wine.’ Afterwards, they continued chatting through WhatsApp. ‘I’m sorry I couldn’t kiss you good night on our first date’, he wrote. ‘I don’t kiss on the first date, anyway’, she texted back.
It’s difficult to discern someone’s height or clothing style on an online date. ‘My friends were joking that he might be really short’, says Marijke. Both her and her date had a good time. ‘It was really nice. You just have to find someone who’s willing to do something like this.’
My friends were joking that he might be really short
Should you find yourself wanting to go on an online date, Marijke has a few tips for you. ‘Make sure you have a bottle of wine or some beers handy, just to loosen up. It really helped me.’
Pay attention to the lighting situation. ‘Test it beforehand. I usually video call people when I’m in the living room, but there was no privacy there. I had to move, and I wished I’d taken a look at the lighting earlier.’
Also make sure your phone is charged. ‘My battery ran out’, says Marijke. When you plug your phone in, you can’t set it down on its bottom anymore. ‘I did come up with a contraption so it could stand up, but it was a hassle.’
Finally: Lock your room. ‘On Houseparty, anyone can join your conversation, and my friends kept trying to break in.’ Fortunately, she’d locked the conversation. ‘Otherwise, you run the risk of people sneaking in.’
Economics student Lisa (22) also had a date last week. She and a friend went on a double date. ‘We were going to play beer pong’, she says. ‘The table is longer than five feet.’
She and her friend both live alone. ‘I’m really careful about my environment, and he was too’, she says. ‘You can never be sure, but the chances of me infecting people on this date were small.’
Nevertheless, it’s difficult to keep your distance, Lisa noticed. If you do want to go on a real date, says Reuvers, it’s best to go outside. ‘Just make sure you stay five feet away from each other.’ It’s a good idea to clearly agree on this beforehand. ‘That’ll make it easier to not get carried away in the heat of the moment.’
You have all the time in the world to create sexual tension
Or you could make full use of the advantages of not going on a date immediately. ‘You can really get to know each other before you meet. You have all the time in the world to create sexual tension, so use that’, Reuvers says. Why not give sexting a try?
But digital sex is not without its risks. ‘Make sure you know what you’re getting into’, says Reuvers. The safest way is to create tension using your words. ‘Calling each other, rather than resorting to video, is an exciting and relatively safe alternative to exchanging messages.’
If you do want to use visuals, lower the risk by not showing your face or identifying marks. It’s also a good idea to send the same number of visuals as the person you’re communicating with.
Video calling can also serve as a middle ground if you don’t want to meet up with your date or steady partner. ‘Just keep in mind your safety and what you both like.’ If you do decide to have a sexual partner, it’s a good idea to agree to see each other exclusively, even if it’s just temporary. ‘It would help prevent the spread of the disease. It might not be ideal, but it’s really smart.’
No partner in sight? You can also make use of this ‘intelligent lockdown’ to get to know yourself better, rather than someone else. ‘Masturbation can help you figure out what you like’, says Reuvers. ‘It can help you create a healthy relationship with sex, and that can be of use once you can start having sex with other people again.’
On top of that, masturbation has been known to relieve stress. ‘Many people have reported an increase of feelings of stress due to the corona crisis, so this could really help.’
The names Lisa and Marijke are fake. Their real names are known to the editorial staff.
Translation by Sarah van Steenderen