When you look back on all the people you’ve dated, you’ll probably notice at least a couple of similarities. Maybe your exes all had mysterious charm and razor sharp wit à la Penn Badgley, or maybe they had big IDGAF energy like Miley Cyrus. Whether they shared physical or personality traits, it’s OK to acknowledge you have a “type” — and that type can shift with your circumstances. So, considering the current coronavirus outbreak, it’s worth asking: Does your type change while dating in quarantine? The answer is a bit complicated. While your preferences are often pretty ingrained, your priorities have likely shifted. Let’s explore, shall we?
There’s no denying that this pandemic has impacted your life in a number of ways. Perhaps your financial situation has changed due to loss of work, causing you to look for new opportunities and adjust your spending habits. You might be worried for the health of yourself and your loved ones, or grieving a loss. Meanwhile, you could be grappling with new emotions, like anxiety around the future, or loneliness in response to social distancing. Whether you know it or not, all of these factors can affect on the types of people you’re drawn to. As your situation changes, so do your needs, which means that certain traits change in importance.
“The things we normally seek out in partners often do not matter while dating right now,” says Susan Trombetti, matchmaker and CEO of exclusive matchmaking. “What matters most is someone who can make you laugh, smile, and feel safe — and who takes the same public health measures you do.”
On the whole, Trombetti says that many people are relaxing their preferences. In other words, if you typically only date people who look a certain way, or have a particular kind of job or lifestyle, you may find yourself willing to consider daters who don’t quite fit that description.
“Your primal needs takeover as opposed to your wants,” explains Trombetti. “Unconsciously or consciously, what’s important in a relationship becomes a lot clearer. Someone that is going to be there with you through thick and thin and have your back is what you need.”
Maria, 22, admits that pre-quarantine, she used to only swipe right on guys who looked like they club-hopped.
“Now I look for someone with a detailed bio and clear hobbies,” she tells Elite Daily. “Also — I immediately swipe left if someone jokes about breaking quarantine.”
What’s interesting about Maria’s latter admission is that it seems the current circumstances have given her a new measure of compatibility. If someone isn’t taking the same safety measures as you, you may question whether your beliefs or values line up. Is your type a mask-wearer, or perhaps even a mask-maker? If they can afford to donate to relief funds and GoFundMes, do they?
If you have a specific physical type, you may find that you’re easing up on those standards. Trombetti notes that in particular, many people seem to be putting less of an emphasis on height. In the face of a crisis, you might be willing to overlook how short or tall someone is if they can calm your fears and make you feel secure.
“Before, I was looking more for somebody I would be attracted to,” says Julia, 21. “I'm still only swiping right on people I think are attractive, but it's less of a factor in how much effort I'm going to put into talking to people because all we can do is talk.”
Of course, physical attraction is still a key component of any relationship, regardless of whether a pandemic is in full swing. The point is, you may find yourself more willing to explore a connection with someone that doesn’t fit your physical type to a T, or immediately catch your eye purely on the basis of how they look.
It's not just superficial factors that have less weight, either — even certain practical factors, like distance, are suddenly inconsequential.
“If you normally prefer to date someone in your neighborhood out of convenience, a person 1,000 miles away is just as accessible right now,” explains Trombetti.
Fortunately, dating apps have responded to the shift in circumstances to accommodate this. For example, Tinder U removed its distance radius via the “Still In Session” feature, and Tinder also temporarily made its Passport feature free to all users, allowing them to match with anyone in the world. Bumble recently expanded its distance filters, as well.
“I don't care about anything like location, school, or job because I'm in a very transient position right now,” says Julia. "I'm not even looking for people in my college town because I'm graduating, and I'm not looking for people around my hometown (where I'm quarantined) because I'm moving for a new job later this year."
As far as which traits have become more desirable in quarantine, Trombetti notes that you may find yourself drawn to someone who’s healthy, emotionally available, financially secure, and has a sense of humor, as these are all traits that definitely come in handy during a crisis. Most of all, she says communication skills have become highly prized across the board.
“That’s what it takes to get along if you are going to be locked up day after day,” Trombetti adds. “A person who listens to you and empathizes with you is a person that you can be with forever.”
Talia, 22, has found this to be true. As someone who doesn’t consider themselves an avid texter, she’s had to change her own habits and learn to embrace the art of digital conversation. Meanwhile, she’s learned to appreciate someone who can help keep the convo flowing even when they're stuck at home 24/7.
“I definitely have found myself looking for someone that can keep more interesting conversation over text,” she tells Elite Daily. “It’s hard to talk about your day when your day is boring and/or repetitive.”
Julia has also found that she’s more invested in keeping the convo alive on dating apps — and not just with people who might normally catch her eye. She says this openness has been beneficial because it's allowed her to get to know people on a deeper level than she would have before quarantine.
“I think both I am more conversational and I notice other people are more conversational, too, because they realize that texting and FaceTiming is the extent of what this potential relationship could be,” Julia explains. “I'm much more likely to start and continue conversations with people who aren't my type than I was before. Before, I would only respond to somebody on a dating app if they said something very interesting or if they had a clever pickup line, but now, I'm just more open to talking to anybody.”
There’s nothing wrong with knowing that you need someone who has a sarcastic sense of humor, a cute smile, or an ability to engage in lengthy intellectual convos with you to keep the spark alive. However, a stressful situation (like a pandemic) can offer a valuable opportunity to recognize that some factors simply aren’t as important to you as you once thought. Relationships still require attraction and chemistry to work, but the bottom line is, you may be surprised at who you find those things in.
British philosopher Alan Watts once wrote, “The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance.” Right now, you’re dealing with a lot of change all at once, and TBH, I think you deserve a pat on the back purely for having the strength and the bravery to keep dating amidst the chaos. Moving with these changes may mean adapting your type, but that’s not a bad thing at all. Dating in quarantine is that it seems to have inspired many people to be more open-minded in their search for love — and that, fam, is a beautiful thing.
Susan Trombetti, matchmaker