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Dating after quarantine: More people ready for in-person connections

A Seattle lifestyle psychologist said she has seen almost three times the amount of clients seeking dating profile consultations as COVID-19 restrictions ended.

SEATTLE — The number of breakups in 2020 was the highest since 2017, according to a survey from Dating.com.

More people could be looking for love post-COVID-19 as more people transition to life outside quarantine.

"There is some anxiety, some fear about dating, but I think people generally want to get back out there," said Dr. Jill Gross, a lifestyle psychologist based in the Phinney Ridge - Greenwood area of Seattle.

As Washington's COVID-19 restrictions eased, Gross said the number of clients seeking her help tripled with dating profile consultations and people wondering if what they were doing was attracting the right person.

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"Dating in the pandemic didn't stop,” Gross said. “Loneliness is a great motivating factor, but there was also a lot of fear and questions.”

Gross said socially distancing during in-person dates and having the "are we dating outside our COVID circle" conversation did not lead to many close connections.

"Have you ever been on a Zoom date? It's not fun," said Leland Paige, a student at the University of Washington who added there is definitely excitement in the air on campus.

"It's time to get back out there. People are getting vaccinated, the sun is out, people are ready to party," said Paige, who admitted he was ghosted more than once online.

"I prefer to meet someone in person, or at least meet up with them in person sooner," explained Paige.

Gross said getting back in the game can cause anxiety with people thinking their conversation skills are rusty, especially if they became single during the pandemic and do not know or remember how to date.

“But when has it ever not been awkward to walk up to someone you don't know and ask to buy them a drink? I hope people will because in-person connection and the courage it takes to approach someone you don't know really says a lot about someone's character," Gross explained.

Gross said one way the pandemic changed the dating game is by making people more aware of their personal values and what is important to them. A way to figure that out is by asking your date how the pandemic affected them, or how they handled their situation. She said that can also tell you a lot about a person and what they value.

Gross also recommended not ditching the online dating game just because in-person dating is back.

“Online dating isn't going anywhere," she said. "If anything, we are only going to see more profiles in the coming weeks as the initial anxiety wears off."