A few Saturdays ago, a charming teacher asked Katherine Palmer, 64, for a date at a local tavern. After a year of standing six feet away from others, meeting outside and wearing face masks, spending time with someone in person made her nervous at first. However, when she began to relax during the date, she began to realize something else: they were getting along well. Now that she is fully vaccinated, she says, she is ready to put her worries aside and get involved.
Palmer says the pandemic has made her recognize that when it comes to finding love again, there is no time to waste. “When your husband dies, you realize that life is short,” she says. “That part was definitely missing: having someone by your side during a pandemic that you can talk to and, you know, tell them, ‘I’m afraid of what happened today’ and they would console you. I was missing all this with my husband who wasn’t here … So maybe I want another one. “
Pandemic-era dating has been difficult for almost everyone, but it has been a particular challenge for older people, who are at higher risk for severe COVID-19. Many older people have changed their lifestyle accordingly in the past year: People over the age of 60 were the most likely to practice measures that limit the spread of the virus, including physical distancing, avoidance of crowds and the cancellation of social activities, according to an October 2020 survey by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
When vaccines became available in the United States starting late last year, older residents were among the first to be allowed to join the line and, in general, jumped at the opportunity. Young people are now more likely to have at least partial protection; as of April 26, more than 80 percent of U.S. residents over the age of 65 were at least partially vaccinated, compared to only 32.5 percent of people aged 18 to 29. And the vaccination has allowed many older people who have spent the year in relative isolation for fear of contracting the virus to relapse into a fulfilling social life, including dating.
Palmer, who received his second vaccine in early April, says his social calendar is already full again. However, she may not be on the pitch for as long as she expected – the teacher impressed her with her outspokenness, fun-loving spirit, and respect for her caution towards COVID-19. As their first date was going well, he turned to her and said, “Full disclosure: I had COVID in July.”
“Oh really?” she replied.
“And I was vaccinated. And you are vaccinated, “he continued.” So, can I kiss you tonight? “
“Okay, now I understand where it’s going. Yes, you can, ”he said. (They made). Even then, he admits, it all seemed odd. During the pandemic, he says, “you don’t kiss people, you don’t touch people. You know, it’s so weird to have the shot and now to have that freedom. “
For some older singles, like Marianne Mohr, who is 60, the pandemic has become a useful way to gauge whether a potential date is a good match. If someone he connects with online suggests they haven’t taken COVID-19 seriously, Mohr doesn’t bother meeting them regardless of their vaccination status, because that’s a sign they don’t share his values. The pandemic “made me be more insightful,” says Mohr.
Todd Omohundro, 60, says that as a very outgoing person, things in life “fell into [his] round. “During the pandemic, however, and after a difficult shoulder surgery in November, he found himself increasingly lonely and depressed. When he recovered, he decided to take appointments more seriously, even hiring a matchmaker. He says he found even more. trust now that he is vaccinated.
“Honestly, it was partly loneliness, partly despair,” says Omohundro. “We have all heard those incredible stories of people passing by all over the world, isolated from all our loved ones. And wow, you know, that iconic image we have of being at the end of our life and being surrounded by our loved ones, and you know, the family dog. I don’t want to die of COVID alone. “
Ann Maas, 63, says that since mass vaccination began, she has noticed a growing interest in dating through her business, taking photos of people for their online dating profiles. It’s nice, he says, to see people cleaning up to get back out there. “COVID beard and COVID extra weight don’t help these men,” says Maas. “And so many women have these huge pieces of gray and colored hair. And so many people need to settle down and be able to go back to their hairdresser before going out again. You know, so it’s not just dating, it’s preparing for dating. “
Many single older people, including Jim Byrne of Connecticut, 82, are optimistic that it will be easier to meet people now that people are being vaccinated and the darkness of the pandemic is beginning to lessen. Byrne says he’s happy to see more people hang out and, as an actor, he can’t wait to meet new people once the local community theater scene picks up. He says he’d like to meet a woman who likes to have fun and maybe take him for a ride around Connecticut on his scooter.
“At my age, etc., I’m not looking for anything serious, serious, like making a proposal to a woman and getting married. I don’t care at all. Most people my age are not looking for a long-term mate. They just hope to survive long enough to have some fun, ”says Byrne. “But you know, a good friend you can hang out with, enjoy life and have a good time and, you know, be a little romantic. I’m a sentimental slob. “