Cleveland Couple Navigates Dating During The Coronavirus Pandemic

Joe and Alicia, two Cleveland residents, are finding it difficult to date during the coronavirus pandemic [Marlene Harris-Taylor / ideastream]
Joe and Alicia, two Cleveland residents, are finding it difficult to date during the coronavirus pandemic. [Marlene Harris-Taylor / ideastream]
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Imagine you are single, you meet someone nice, ask them on a date and then the coronavirus pandemic hits.

That’s what happened to Alicia and Joe, two Cleveland residents in their early thirties, who live on the West side of town. They both requested we only use their first names.

Alicia works in the healthcare industry and her work hours are not the traditional the 9am-5pm, which can make dating tricky, she said. She has been dating for many years and said it’s not easy to find a nice guy, so she turned to a dating app — Bumble — for a little help.

Joe is a graduate student working on a degree in clinical mental health counseling. He was very interested when he came across Alicia’s profile on the dating site.

“So how it works is if you like what you see with somebody, and you think you might have a connection, you swipe to the right on their profile,” Joe said. "We both swiped right on each other."

Joe and Alicia had two dates and then Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine shut down most businesses because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“The bars are closed; the restaurants are closed, entertainment venues are closed, so there’s a limit on where you can meet and what you can do,” Alicia said.

So, for their third date, Joe suggested they go for a hike because people are still allowed to go outside in Ohio. They went to the Rocky River Reservation, Alicia’s favorite place to hike.

 “We went to the Metropark there and went on a walk in the rain, “Joe said.

The rain actually started before the two started hiking, but Alicia said she was so happy to get outside the rain didn’t really bother her.

“It was a lot of fun. I’m so glad I got a chance to go out and be in nature,” she said.

After the hike the couple stood in the raining holding their separate umbrellas and trying to maintain the six-feet of social distance recommended by health officials.

“I will say this, and I feel like this is almost a moral taboo right now, I did give him a hug before we left,” said Alicia.

But even with the hug at the end of the date Alicia said she felt like the date had been little awkward and she needed to reassure Joe she had fun.

“I did send him a text message afterwards saying, 'I do actually like you.' And he understood. He just said we have to be careful and vigilant,” Alicia said.

Alicia and Joe have been handed a golden opportunity in the midst of the chaos of this crisis said, Kathy Dawson, a relationship coach based in Cleveland. Dawson, who has been helping couples for nearly three decades, said couples who are trying to make a connection during this pandemic are very similar to people trying to navigate a long-distance relationship.

 “In some respects, this is going to be good for the relationship. Its gonna slow it down,” said Dawson.

“Sometimes people come out of the gates so fast, and get involved so quickly before they get to know each other that it really sabotages the relationship,” she said.

Couple who are social distancing while dating can build on the romance and spend lots of time talking and really getting to know each other. They are also saving money because they aren’t going out to movies and expensive restaurants, which is a bonus, Dawson said.

This is also a unique opportunity to see how the person you are dating truly handles stress, she said.

“This is a work sample of how they are under stress. Things aren’t that great. So, let’s talk about how you’re feeling, how you’re dealing. That’s what I’d want to learn about somebody,” Dawson said.

As for Alicia and Joe, they plan to continue navigating the perils of social distancing, at the same time that they are trying to make a connection.

 “(I’d) love to get together and do something like dinner, but obviously neither one of us we can go anywhere and have dinner,” Joe said.

“I honestly kinda imagine a lot more outdoor walks,” he said.

Dawson says, however, even those walks might not be so wise.

 “Boy I wouldn’t do that,” said Dawson as she chuckled, "because you know the old pheromones come out and it’s gonna be really tough to stay away from each other.”

The officials at Bumble, the dating app where the two met, agree with Dawson.

The company sent an email to their customers advising people to do a lot of video chats to help with social distancing because of the coronavirus.  

Public health officials have also made clear: now is not the time to be holding hands with someone new.

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