In the past year, apps created convenience for consumers during a stay-at-home order with delivery services such as DoorDash and Shipt. Online services such as these don’t halt at perishable goods, in 2020, reports show there were over 270 million dating app users. As the number of online dating users increases, it poses the question: is it possible to meet someone organically – especially during COVID-19?
In the years leading up to online dating, many marriages were the result of an on-campus connection. According to a study conducted by Facebook in 2020, 28% of married Facebook users in the U.S. met their spouse during college. Enter the University of Montevallo, a quaint liberal arts school tucked away in a small town with a population under 7,000.
Third-year student Jonathan Weed describes the city of Montevallo as “unlike Tuscaloosa or Auburn that have a bustling night-life scene despite COVID.”
Given the University of Montevallo enforces CDC guidelines, students have shared their experiences dating during a pandemic in a small-town to be mostly online than through an organic connection on-campus.
“Everyone I talk to winds up testing positive and by the time they have finished quarantining the moment has passed and I’m not interested in seeing them anymore,” Senior Jessica McMillian shares, “I prefer dating online because it is more convenient.”
With a large LGBTQ+ community presence on-campus, Montevallo has held events and mixers Pre-COVID for members of the community to network and further connect whether that be platonically or romantically.
“It’s not always safe for someone who identifies as gay to approach someone organically, especially in Alabama,” Jonathan Weed shares, “but, it’s not always safe to navigate dating apps and meet a stranger either.”
The University of Montevallo hosts online events through Zoom to keep students connected virtually. “It’s not the same,” Weed says, “online events are challenging to make conversation since everyone is watching each other on a screen.”
As far as hookup culture goes, McMillian shares, “Some sports teams can’t leave campus so I feel like traffic going off-campus has dropped quite a bit, but now that we can travel between dorms again, hookup culture on-campus hasn’t been affected that much by COVID.”
The majority of college students have reported that they prefer to resort to dating apps to feel connected and satisfy their romantic and sexual fulfillment.