COVID-19 has changed many things, including how people interact and socialise, and it is impacting Cayman’s local dating scene.
For single women like Nicole (not her real name), finding love in a small community like Cayman has proven to be challenging, and looking for romance during a pandemic has made it a lot harder.
Usually a social butterfly, Nicole said, COVID-19 has changed how she approaches relationships.
“I think, as someone in their late thirties, it’s always been hard [dating], especially on this island. I believe the statistics show that women do outnumber men here, so, I was single long before COVID, and I think COVID just added an extra layer to that to make it more
difficult,” she said in an interview with the Cayman Compass.
Online dating increases
Trends globally, especially in the US, have shown an uptick in the use of online dating.
A recent TIME magazine article titled, ‘The Coronavirus Is Changing How We Date. Experts Think the Shifts May Be Permanent’, pointed to increased social media hook-ups
in heavily impacted cities.
“Home, alone, and in some cases without a job, single people are spending more time swiping right on dating apps to find love, particularly in the cities hardest hit by the virus: Bumble reports a 21% increase in messages sent in Seattle, 23% increase in New York City and 26% increase in San Francisco since March 12, a day after the World Health Organization labeled the coronavirus a global pandemic,” the article stated.
Nicole said she and her close single friends have also turned to social media and dating apps in their quest for love.
However, she said that approach has its drawbacks.
“There’s been a pickup in online dating, but online dating here in the Cayman Islands is really difficult because it’s such a small community of 60,000-plus population. If you’re going to go on an app like Tinder or Bumble or something like that, you’re definitely going to see somebody you know. You’re a lot more apprehensive to even put your name or your face out there because so many people would know you anyway, because of the small island,” she said.
Nicole said being able to connect with someone has been difficult because there is concern over contracting coronavirus.
“I think we’re really too early in the coronavirus pandemic to even say that this won’t come back as a second wave and that we might not end up, who knows, in the next six months or so back in another lockdown again. So, it’s just that kind of real apprehensiveness.
You’re not really quite comfortable with meeting someone or actually even seeing somebody right now,” she said.
Apart from the physical challenges of online dating, Nicole said, there are issues such as ‘catfishing’.
She said one of her friends fell victim to someone who pretended to be someone they were not.
“They weren’t really sure that the person they were talking to was actually real, because, now if you put your faith in online dating”, she said, with just a picture and a phone number for texting “you’re not sure if that person is actually the person they say they are”.
The Kinsey Institute at Indiana University is conducting research on how COVID-19 has changed relationships and dating. It is collecting data through online surveys.
In a preliminary release from the ongoing study, Kinsey executive director Justin Garcia said researchers have found that “under the stress and distance created by the novel
coronavirus’s spread, nearly half of the adults surveyed reported that their sex life
has declined and that they are currently less sexually active”.
Nicole said she is hopeful that Cupid’s arrow will find her soon, but for the time being her focus is on survival.
“You start to focus really not on necessarily finding a partner, but just making sure that you’re safe and secure and that you’re able to weather… the pandemic,” she said.
Nicole urged fellow single women empower themselves and take pride in their independence.
“I would just encourage everyone, whether it be a pandemic or not, just don’t settle for anything less than you believe that… you are worth,” she added.
Note: Nicole requested anonymity to share her story.