Coronavirus Connections: Dating and hooking up in Amsterdam during lockdown
Club speakers have been silent, restaurant tables empty and bar stools cold for months now. That means there are also fewer chances of meeting that special someone or even just finding a hook-up.
In the age of social restrictions, it is all too common to experience feelings of loneliness and isolation. To keep their love life going some people, especially young adults, are turning to dating apps. For some their use of dating apps, can turn into a love/hate relationship.
Sam is a 26-year-old social work student in Amsterdam. Before the pandemic, he did not often use Tinder, the popular hookup app that makes you think you are always one swipe away from your dream partner. Since the pandemic began, he says, “I have been trying to meet new people on Tinder and Discord [a chat space mainly used by gamers].” For him, Tinder has become “a form of entertainment”, given that even the Netflix catalogue can exhaust itself at some point.
Sam, like most other interviewees, was not outright enthusiastic about his dating app use. It seemed more as if it was the only way to still meet new people in an increasingly isolated world.
“I prefer to meet people offline. My linguistic jokes just don’t work well in writing”, Sam explains.
The one big advantage of online dating is that it gives you the chance to make connections with whom you would probably not cross paths. “Normally, you would go to a club or bar but now you can’t even go to the school or library since everything is closed”, 22-year-old Alphious says. Instead of taking his Tinder match to a fancy restaurant for their first meeting, he now cooks or shares a drink with them at his home.
Nevertheless, going to someone’s home on a date with someone you met online can sometimes feel uncomfortable or even dangerous. That’s why usually people said that they went for walks outside the first time they met someone. Even in sub-zero temperatures.
Another option is to bring a friend along with you if you go on a date to someone’s house which can sometimes lead to unexpected encounters. In the case of 24-year-old, Tina, the friend her date decided to bring along turned out to be another one of her Tinder matches. For her, Tinder did not bring everything it promised. After months, spent on the app she went on only three dates in total; two of whom she said to actually have felt a real connection.
She also showed that Tinder can lead to more than just a date. With a Tinder bio that reads “Hey, you wanna go for a drink or a tattoo?” you are likely to meet people that share the same interests; or just want a free tattoo.
There are many other options besides Tinder out on the dating app market. Bumble and OkCupid are just a couple to name a few. Some apps are targeted directly towards the LGBTQ+ community, such as Grindr for gay men and HER for lesbians.
Other platforms such as Feeld or KinkD allow users to be more specific than on conventional sites about their sexual interests and preferences. Feeld offers users 15 gender identities to choose from. It is an app that is meant for both singles, as well as, couples looking for an addition to their love life. KinkD, on the other hand, is intended for members of the BDSM community and those that are curious to explore the BDSM world. In both Feeld and KinkD, the physical aspect of the encounter lies at the forefront.
“There’s not really much else to do, so you might as well go on these sites where it is explicitly sexual. People know what you are there for”, 22-year-old, Freddy says. “I guess a lot of people are just very sexually frustrated during this time”, he adds.
Both Tina and Freddy said they preferred Feeld or KinkD over more mainstream apps because they had more in common with the people they matched with. “Weirdly enough, I have had amazing connections on these so-called kinky apps”, Freddy says. He claims to have made lasting friendships with people on these apps after realizing they were not sexually interested in one another.
Still, encountering new people does also means encountering new germs, so how anxious are these young people about the coronavirus? Short answer: Not that much. While some profiles do read “I’m not meeting anyone right now, let’s just chat” Sam, Alphious, Tina and Freddy all said that the majority of people they met online do not appear too distressed about the coronavirus. In some cases, dating apps can provide a small bridge to overcome the lonely months in lockdown.
The good news is, you can still date despite an ongoing pandemic, providing, of course, you stick to social restriction rules. The difficulty usually comes down to where to go for the date. With warmer weather hopefully soon to come and a glimmer of hope that terraces will be allowed to open in summer, it offers a little motivation to get through the last weeks of the current lockdown.