The virtual coffee shop used by Jonathan David on his virtual date in Minecraft. (Photo courtesy of Jonathan David)

Florida Singles Are Adapting To Dating During Social Distancing

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Jonathan David is one of the thousands of single Americans who, while staying socially distant, has tried to get creative during the COVID-19 pandemic in forming relationships.

The dating scene has dramatically changed in the past four months, with a variety of public establishments closed or limiting people inside. That has many singles relying more on the Internet to make connections.

“First we get to know each other online, and if we’re on the same wavelength and have the same mindset, maybe we can meet in person,” David, 23, said. “Obviously with gloves, a ton of hand sanitizer and a face mask, of course.”

“I feel like if you’re an introvert,” he said, “maybe this would be a good way to go.”

David has been on a couple of online dates in recent weeks, with the help of Zoom, Discord and Minecraft.

Minecraft is a virtual game where users can use avatars and meet online in virtual worlds.

“My friends and I built a city on Minecraft with an Italian restaurant and a coffee shop,” David said with a chuckle. “We joked about how this world could be a cool place for dates.”

So he eventually proposed his idea to a Tinder match and succeeded.

David said, “What I liked about my Minecraft date was that it was interactive, and we acted as a team and got to know each other via audio while playing.”

Before COVID-19, many singles were already depending on multiple online dating platforms. But even more are just now joining and attempting this new lifestyle.

The virtual coffee shop used by Jonathan David on his virtual date in Minecraft. (Photo courtesy of Jonathan David)

Jessica Brar, a 35-year old Gainesville resident, has continued to use online dating applications as the coronavirus keeps more people inside.

“I have been online dating on and off for about four years now,” she said. “There have been many people who have wanted to meet up, but I have been social distancing as I had to quarantine because I was stuck in Peru for 18 days and was evacuated.”

Brar said, “There are a lot of things we can do – we can talk on the phone, we can send each other texts and we can meet virtually.”

Typically, on a first date pre-COVID, most dress to impress and meet at a public location. Brar said she was able to see more into her date’s lifestyle as she could see the photos hanging on his wall inside of his home during their zoom date.

While many singles are becoming creative and improvising with new ideas for dating, some singles have decided that dating is not his or her number one priority right now.

Lillianna Thomas, a 20-year-old University of Florida junior, said, “Before the COVID-19 outbreak, I went to social events fairly often and I was definitely open to meeting people,” Thomas said, “I figured since I can’t go out and meet people face-to-face, there isn’t much of an opportunity to make deeper connections.”

Thomas said, “I am also very concerned about my family and friends during this time and I want to make sure to keep them safe. Dating is at the bottom of my list right now.”

“I’m an essential worker, and I’m also working on a research project, so relationships are not a priority for me right now,” Thomas said.

Not all singles are willing to adapt to online dating while it seems others are benefitting from the virtually-adjusted dating landscape.

About Caitlyn McLaughlin

Caitlyn is a reporter for WUFT News who can be reached by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing news@wuft.org.

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