How to Navigate Dating in 2020

by Grace Shaver
dating in 2020

Dating in 2020 has been anything but easy. The pandemic has made it nearly impossible to go somewhere and meet someone. Although we’re starting to go out again, online dating and virtual hangouts have never been more popular. We may all despise spending our days on Zoom, but it’s still one of the safest ways to screen someone before meeting IRL. And honestly, I’m all for it.

Virtual dates allow for a lot of flexibility— you can wear pajama pants because no one has to see you from the waist down! And who wouldn’t want to get drinks with someone without actually leaving the comfort of their own home? Of course, the mixologist may not know what they’re doing, but in the end, that’s fine.

The dating game itself has changed over time. Online dating is no longer taboo. Bumping into your soulmate at coffee shops or concerts isn’t possible right now—and unless you’re my roommate, you’re not very likely to get your DoorDash driver’s number. And so, in order to date in 2020, we simply have to adapt.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been anti-online dating. And I’m not certain I’ll ever change my mind. For me, there’s something off-putting about connecting with a stranger you met on the internet. Then again, if you were able to go out and get to know someone you met IRL, isn’t that just what you’d be doing—meeting a stranger? With bar closures and half-empty bookstores filled with masked humans, there are limited ways to meet new people. And so I’ve reconsidered my aversion to online dating in 2020.

Could something good come from sliding into someone’s DMs?  Apparently! Since the onset of the pandemic, there have been viral videos of couples meeting face-to-face after only talking and dating virtually. These videos don’t seem awkward, despite how the couples first met. 

I had no idea what I was supposed to do when I first downloaded dating apps. Call it a culture shock. Was I meant to ask someone whether or not they baked banana bread back in April? Or would a cliché pick-up line solicit a response? I’ve compiled a list of some personally tested pointers that can prove helpful if you’re new to the online dating scene. Here’s how to navigate dating in 2020.

What I’ve Learned

Everyone’s Online for a Different Reason

Before beginning your virtual dating journey, ask yourself why you’re downloading these apps or visiting certain sites. What do you want from your swiping experience? Are you looking for love or a casual fling? It’s important to understand what you want so that you can better judge others’ intentions. Trust me, I’ve talked to someone for months only to learn that we were not on the same page. We were in different chapters in different books. Before you can have a conversation regarding what you want with someone else, you need to have it with yourself.

phone scrolling online dating

Don’t Have High Expectations

I know, I know… I just said figure out what you’re looking for, and you should still do that. Don’t be negative, however, be realistic. Setting expectations for someone you don’t even know will probably only hurt you in the end. A lot of people on dating apps aren’t looking for anything serious, so if you are, be ready to choose from a smaller pool.

Talk to people. Narrow down your matches. Be picky, but not impossible. But if you’re like me, you’re pretty particular. Is the conversation boring? Onto the next! You can be as critical or lenient as you’d like. There’s no pressure to actually meet the person you’re talking to—especially in 2020. We are still trying to stay COVID-free over here. However, keep in mind that continuing down a dead-end is a waste of time for you and your online escapades. 

How-To Date in 2020

Get to Know Your Apps

Thanks to the popularity of online dating, there’s plenty of platforms to download in order to get to know people. Tinder, for example, is often favored by college students. It’s usually the place to go if you’re looking for low-commitment, casual flings. Hinge’s tagline is that their app is “designed to be deleted,” as they want their matches to find relationships. Bumble falls somewhere in between—you might find someone seeking a romance, but you’re bound to stumble upon a few people just looking for fun and games.

Build Your Profile

Your profile is what will determine whether or not people match with you. It’s all someone sees before they decide whether or not they want to swipe, so make yours stand out! Pick your favorite photos of yourself, and if the app allows, add captions. Some apps allow for videos to be posted, too, and that’s a great place to show off a special skill. Can you play the guitar or do a backflip? Did you decide to start making earrings during quarantine? (Oh, just me?) Well, what will make people remember you?

phone screen with tinder

Be Yourself

Sure, this might sound cliché, but it’s my best advice. Pick an app, build a profile and when people start messaging you, just pretend you’re meeting someone face-to-face for the first time. The last time you did that was probably in March, but I believe in you. Once the initial Facetime jitters wear off, you can settle into some great conversation. What would you want them to know about you? Are there any obvious red flags? Did they forget they weren’t wearing pants or get a little too tipsy? If at any point you lose interest, you can unmatch! 

That may be my favorite part of dating in 2020. It’s a lot easier to bail on someone virtually than it is to do the same IRL. Sure, that’s not necessarily a good thing, but it is the truth. Online dating has an incredibly low commitment. You get out of it what you give. 

Keep in Mind

It’s 2020 and life is weird. Dating is even weirder— but that doesn’t mean you can’t make it work. If you decide to take the leap of meeting someone in person, make sure you feel comfortable and safe. Oh, and one more word of advice—have multiple conversations with someone before you give them your phone number. Trust me, it’s a lot easier to unmatch on an app than once they’ve already called you. Anyway, wish me luck with my virtual date this weekend.

About the Author/s

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Grace is a student at Boston University, a yoga instructor, and a beach lover. She is an editorial assistant at The Digest.

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