Pandemic relationships 101: How to navigate Charlotte’s new dating scene

Pandemic relationships 101: How to navigate Charlotte’s new dating scene
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While the pandemic taught many of us to place higher value on relationships, COVID restrictions have made it harder to start new ones, especially romantic relationships.

Why it matters: The pandemic has changed the way Charlotteans date. Folks are relying more heavily on dating apps, but they’re also taking the search for romantic relationships more seriously.

What’s happening: As restrictions lift, vaccinations increase and the weather warms up, opportunities to take the pandemic’s relationship lessons and put them in to practice will be easier to come by.

“People are going to remember the lessons they learned,” Laurie Berzack, founder of Carolinas Matchmaker tells me. “I think that this has kind of lit a fire under people to really evaluate their lives, decide what has been working and what has not been working and to course correct.”

Berzack, who offers a variety of services, says her business has been busier than ever over the last year.

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By the numbers: Charlotte ranks among the top ten cities where millennials are moving so there’s a lot of dating going on here, especially considering younger people are most likely to use increasingly popular dating apps.

  • Hinge reports that 44% of users have been on a video date during the pandemic, and global app downloads were up 63% in 2020.
  • Match surveyed users and found that 71% were looking for a serious relationship this summer (I guess “hot girl summer” may be cancelled). The survey also showed that 65% of respondents weren’t interested in hookups or casual sex.

Have you increased your dating app use during the pandemic?

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What they’re saying: I spoke with my friend Alexis Gaines, an eligible bachelorette, who’s been dating in the Charlotte area over the last year. She’s found that the COVID outbreak complicated the dating process.

“You’re not able to meet people as organically,” she tells me. “Dating almost feels a little forced now because you have to go out of your way to meet new people.”

  • The good: Gaines says she thinks the lack of human interaction coupled with boredom during the lockdown pushed people to use dating apps more, but she’s okay with that. “They’re nice for an outlet like that. And if (a relationship) grows into something else, great.”
  • The bad: Although her experience on dating apps has been overall positive, she has met some creepers. One of her matches asked her to drive three hours to see him on Christmas after only talking for two days.
  • The ugly: Gaines says she’s also matched with men who forgo a hello in favor of an inappropriate sexual comment to start a conversation or who immediately tell her they’re married.

Here are some tips to navigate the field:

(1) Don’t be a catfish. Berzack’s number one tip for dating app users is to use recent, realistic pictures. Include a full body shot too.

  • “It doesn’t matter what someone looks like. It doesn’t matter what size they are, it doesn’t matter how tall they are,” Berzack says of matching people of all shapes and sizes. “The only thing that matters is transparency.”

(2) Know your comfort level. Whether you’re only interested in seeing people who are vaccinated or whether you’re more comfortable dining outdoors, know where you stand with COVID precautions and outline them early on.

(3) Take your time. Gaines says she always tries to get to know her matches on dating apps before agreeing to meet them in person. She says this can help with avoiding awkward first dates. It’s also a good idea to meet in a public place and share your location with friends just to be safe.


Participate: We’re looking for more participants in our Blind Date series. Are you over 21, single, living in Charlotte and interested? Here’s the link to sign up.

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