3 ways COVID-19 has changed sex and dating
The fun stuff
NSW Government
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Here in NSW, we’re pretty fortunate when it comes to COVID-19 restrictions; for the most part normal life has resumed. But – even though we’re not in lockdown anymore – the impact of 2020 can still be felt, especially when it comes to sex and relationships.

From being cautious about physical contact to embracing video chat as a form of dating, COVID-19 has shifted the way we think about dating.

1. Video calls are the new first date

Meeting people during a pandemic is a pretty tricky business, but luckily dating apps have been there to help. Not only has the use of dating apps like Hinge, Tinder and Bumble increased during COVID-19, we’re also having longer conversations and embracing video chat as a way to connect.

At Bumble, there’s been a 23% increase in the numbers of messages sent between users since mid-March and a 31% increase in in-app video calls. Hinge reported a 30% increase in the number of messages being exchanged between users, and, in July 2020, Tinder introduced its video chat function Face-to-Face.

During the earlier months of the pandemic when meeting in person wasn’t an option, messaging and video chatting became the only way to meet new people.

And although restrictions are now eased, video chatting is likely here to stay. It’s got some pretty big upsides; it lets you meet without having to worry about physical distancing, lets you see what someone is like before meeting them IRL, and helps you make a decision on if you want to take things further. Now that’s a win win.

2. We’re more aware of our mental health

There’s no denying that this has been a tough old year. Not only the virus itself, but the impact it’s had on every element of our lives from job security to personal relationships. One of the biggest impacts has been mental health.

According to a survey called ‘Love in the time of COVID’ by publisher Pedestrian, 50% of all single people stopped dating during COVID-19, and the reasons have far more to do with their mental health than physical restrictions. In fact, 51% of singles say they’re not in the right emotional and mental headspace to date right now.

Although restrictions are easing, COVID-19 isn’t going to disappear any time soon which means that people could continue to feel like this for a while. For some people, dating will help them through the pandemic, but for others it’s just another thing to worry about. Do what’s right for you and make use of some of the great resources that are available such as this guide to looking after your mental health during isolation from BeyondBlue.

3. Talking about your COVID-19 status is the norm (let’s make it the norm for STIs too)

One little sniffle and you’re being asked if you’ve been tested for COVID-19 (and rightly so). With the virus being so contagious, talking openly about symptoms and knowing your status is becoming second-nature.

And, although the 1.5 metre physical distancing rule is still in place, it’s good to know if any potential date has any symptoms you should be worrying about.

Here at Play Safe, we’d love to see this same openness applied to sexual health. With many STIs – such as chlamydia and gonorrhoea often being asymptomatic, asking your partner when they’ve last been tested should be something that’s as normal as your daily coffee.

Do you have a question about sex or dating during the pandemic? Join the discussion on the Play Safe forum.

Confused about the do’s and don’ts during COVID-19? Here’s all you need to know on dating, safe sex, STI testing and wellbeing.

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