MINNEAPOLIS, Minnesota — We've hit the month of February where those lucky in love, shot by Cupid's arrow, are eager for the Valentine's Day holiday. Others may have found the dating scene hard to navigate in the middle of a pandemic.
Although it may seem like 2020 would have been the year where finding "The One" would be impossible, the love guru's of the world are saying love is not canceled.
"It's a little tough, but I also think that dating can be something that is fun and you shouldn't take too seriously," said my friend and co-worker Alexandra Simon.
She and her new boo Pearce just so happened to meet during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Like many looking for love, Alex and Pearce used all of the dating apps out there, but they happened to meet the old fashioned way.
"We met through a mutual friend who reached out to us and said I think you will get along really well," said Alex. "You have a lot in common."
"We met in a park, had a picnic, a socially distanced dinner meet-up," said Pearce. "I wasn't nervous about normal dating things, I was mostly nervous about her comfort level with COVID and I distinctly remember I got there first, set up the picnic blanket and immediately thought: 'Is this a big enough picnic blanket? Will she feel comfortable?'"
It's safe to say the picnic in the park was a success, and although I'll miss hearing Alex's dating horror stories (there were a few), I'm happy she found a good guy!
These two love birds aren't the only ones looking for "The One." Even with the stay at home orders and social distancing, people were needing to fill that lonely void.
"We've seen more relationships, we've seen more engagements during COVID time last year than any other year," said Erika Kybartas, a matchmaker with It's Just Lunch, a company that specializes in finding your perfect match.
"I think what shifted for a lot of our clients the clients that were there were saying this is it... I need to get serious, I don't want to spend another quarantine by myself… or this is uncertain times but one thing that is certain is love," said Kybartas.
Like everything else this past year, dating has gone full blown digital and virtual dates are proving to be more popular.
"There's nothing better than having a date at the comfort of your own home," said Kybartas. "You can wear pajama bottoms if you want to. It just makes it more relaxed."
Popular dating apps have seen a huge boost in user activity as well.
Bumble saw nearly a 70% increase in video calls after the State of Emergency, and Hinge saw a 12% increase in more dates in 2020 compared to the same time the previous year.
Masks became a dating essential for Tinder. Mentions of masks were 10 times higher in 2020 along with catchy pandemic pick up lines like "quarantine and chill" and "wash your hands so you can hold mine."
"Love is not canceled," said Kybartas. "This is the best time to be dating and if you are single you shouldn't be waiting."
For those who are still struggling to find Mr. or Ms. Right, Erika says get rid of your "type," be open minded and look more at a person's values, beliefs, and personality and see if it's compatible with yours.