According to the Center for Disease Control Prevention (CDC), the current confirmed number of COVID-19 cases in the United States is a staggering 25,780,144 with 435,151 deaths (CDC, 2021). And to make matters worse, new variants of the virus have been emerging that may be even more contagious and resistant to the vaccines we are currently using to fight off the disease. Nevertheless, “the heart is a lonely hunter,” as made clear by the movie of the same name. And while there is great risk in dating at a time when COVID-19 is raging, the search for love and companionship continues for many.
No doubt, the virus is having a damaging effect on once intimate relationships: cohabitating couples are still splitting up, married couples are divorcing, and many people find themselves alone for the first time in many years. According to Maddy Savage of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), divorce rates are increasing around the world during COVID-19, and “the pandemic-induced breakup curve may not have peaked yet” (Savage, 2020). Yet, many people continue to scour the dating sites in search of new partners to help abate their pain.
Some may say the risk is too high and that those who are still randomly dating are being selfish; they are failing to consider the health of friends and relatives they may infect, especially those particularly vulnerable. Individuals who continue to date claim they are taking proper precautions: vetting potential partners carefully; some are even requiring pre-date testing. Random dating is not something I would endorse during COVID-19, but I can empathize.
And, I cannot say with any confidence that those who are actively dating have a tendency for risky behaviors—I have not noticed this. The common denominator that I have witnessed, however, is that these people are lonely and are having a hard time going through this trauma alone. We forget sometime that some people do not have the support of friends or family. For some, all they ever had was their prior relationship, if any. These people are vulnerable in a different way, and although they are taking a risk, their current pain is great enough to risk experiencing a different kind of pain. When I consider this, I am reminded of the title of one of my favorite books written by the great Saul Bellow: “More Die of Heartbreak.”