Dating and COVID-19: Are Singles Searching for Their Perfect Vaccine Partner?

CU Denver’s Jennifer Reich weighs in on why dating apps are seeing an uptick in vaccination mentions on user profiles

March 25, 2021

As we navigate through the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve had to change the way we go about everyday life—how we grocery shop, work remotely, and even how we decide who we want to date.  

Dating Apps See a Trend 

One of the features of OKCupid, an online dating platform, is a series of “matching questions” that users answer while setting up their profile. OKCupid recently added, “Will you get the Covid-19 vaccine?”  To the list and has seen interesting results with the addition of the pandemic-related question. According to a recent study done by OKCupid looking at users in the United States, those who respond “yes” to the vaccine question receive 20% more likes and 12% more matches than those who respond “no.”  

“We’re constantly trying to understand who people are, what motivates them, and whether they share similar values or goals as us,” said Jennifer Reich, a sociology professor at CU Denver and vaccine hesitancy expert who wrote the book Calling the Shots: Why Parents Reject Vaccines. “People are drawing from limited information when they are considering those values when trying to decide who to date. Vaccine status is learning something about who the other person is and how they approach the world.” 

In addition to OkCupid, Tinder reported seeing a 258% increase in profiles mentioning vaccines between September 2020 and December 2020.  

Dating with Risks 

According to Reich, our views on the COVID vaccine and dating are just one other way we are taking on risk management when it comes to achieving our life goals, which includes finding the right partner. 

“For the last year we’ve all been trying to figure out how to accomplish our life goals while taking on some risk,” says Reich. “We’ve always had to do some risk management when it comes to dating and this just adds a new level to the issue.” 

Risks that online daters had to take in the past include meeting someone for the first time without knowing much about them and ensuring they aren’t being scammed.  

Now, online daters add the added risk of COVID to their worries. However, OKCupid found nearly four in 10 people would cancel a date with someone who didn’t want to take the COVID-19 vaccine and 215,000 people would cancel a date with someone who would not follow social distancing protocols.  

The Future of Dating  

“It’s going to be interesting moving forward to see which parts of innovations from COVID remain a part of the dating landscape,” said Reich. 

People have now become accustom to meeting people online over video chat before ever meeting in person, according to Reich. She goes on to say COVID has led people to be more engaged in longer and more meaningful conversations over the phone before meet ups. These steps could be helpful to help people manage their goals and achieve the type of relationship they are looking for.