Amy Douglas discusses the ways that the pandemic may affect hook-up culture and dating.
The past year and a half has seen drastic changes occurring in the world on account of Coronavirus. With several lockdowns and government measures that warned against socialising with others, it’s hardly surprising the pandemic affected everyone’s interpersonal relationships. The question then arises of how has and how will hook-up culture be affected by this global event? The widespread mockery surrounding the government’s so-called ‘sex ban’ which prevented gatherings of two or more persons both outside and in private places indoors immediately comes to mind.
Socialisation has become inextricably linked to technology and social media.
Inevitably, because of lockdown and periods of necessary isolation, socialisation became inextricably linked to technology and social media. In fact, during the pandemic, the use of dating apps surged: the number of swipes on Tinder broke 3 billion in one day during March 2020. In some ways, hook-up culture has become synonymous with dating apps like Tinder, Hinge, and Bumble, and perhaps this use of technology will be more integral to the dating and hook-up scene moving forward.
Coronavirus has affected sexual encounters in other ways outside of becoming more reliant on the virtual world. Health and safety precautions, for example, play an even greater role in casual sex than they did pre-pandemic, with concerns about contracting coronavirus becoming paramount to the discussion around practicing safe sex. Perhaps it will have ensured that people will be more selective about their sexual partners, for example engaging solely with acquaintances or friends of friends, due to the extent of health information processing. There is always the risk of contracting coronavirus during a hook-up, but having some sort of prior relationship with a person could reduce the risk in one way or another. Where pre-pandemic hook-up culture revolved around clubbing and one-night stands (certainly as part of university life), precautionary measures have certainly changed that. Arguably, people will be less inclined to fully go back to pre-pandemic attitudes surrounding hooking up with strangers for COVID safety reasons.
Health and safety precautions play an even greater role in casual sex than they did pre-pandemic.
On the other hand, because of the lack of social interaction over the past year, the lifting of most coronavirus restrictions could encourage people to almost make up for the time they have lost out on. For example, clubs reopening are more than likely to facilitate a hook-up culture somewhat similar to the pre-pandemic period, especially considering the role alcohol plays in hook-up culture and its links to clubbing culture among, at the very least, university students.
As we emerge from a long period of heavy restrictions, it’s interesting to consider how hook-up culture will be affected long-term by the pandemic. In my opinion, certain aspects of corona hook-up culture – like the use of dating apps and social media to connect with potential partners – will continue. In particular, apps like Tinder, which more often than not is used for casual hook-ups, will play a more dominant role. Outside of this, however, I don’t believe there will be a huge difference between pre and post-pandemic culture, with the exception of increased diligence when checking the health of any potential partner.