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Zoom crushes, DMs and virtual dates: Shoot your shot this cuffing season

DTH Photo Illustration. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, dates have come with many safety precautions like social distancing and wearing masks.

Something in the air is changing and it's not just the weather —goosebumps are covering your body without a hand to hold. 

Cuffing season is upon us. You know, when single students are ready to hunker down in a committed relationship until spring comes again. 

COVID-19 has hindered the dating world, as it has been nearly impossible to go on adventurous outings and spend time with significant others. Still, students have not let that stop them, as many have continued relationships virtually and began using online dating apps. 

Connected through mutual friends, senior Dante Spado, decided he would shoot his shot by sliding into his now-girlfriend's direct messages in July. 

“For me, it felt more okay to slide into the DMs because everyone is doing everything online anyways, so I will say that the pandemic made it a little easier to get the ball rolling,” Spado said.

Online dating has become a new normal compared to older generations. Spado said he understands that it may be looked down upon by them, but it is common for students today. 

“Now that we are able to see each other, there is a tighter bond because transitioning something from online to the real world is cool,” Spado said. 

First-year Luke Francis said he uses apps like Tinder and Grindr to connect with other students in hopes of meeting in person once it is safe to do so.

“I was going to have a predominantly LGBT suite, so I was really disappointed that it didn't pan out," Francis said. "In high school, it was hard to have a lot of LGBT friends, and I was really hoping to connect with other LGBT people at UNC on a friendship level rather than strictly romantically."

For junior Andrew Weider, it has been hard to get dates and meet new people. Weider said he used to go on dates every weekend, but it has recently become more sporadic because he can’t meet people as frequently anymore. 

“I think it’s a mix of people being content being with their group of friends while they’re in quarantine as well as people not wanting to risk themselves being exposed to COVID-19,” Weider said. 

Even those already in relationships are getting creative in the pandemic. Senior Mandy Fitts has been in a long term relationship for almost seven years. 

“It feels like we’re a married couple, and we really get each other,” Fitts said. “The biggest thing is because we’ve been dating so long, it’s normal for us to not talk to each other every single day.” 

From March until May, Fitts and her boyfriend did not see each other since both of their families were quarantining. Being apart for an uncertain amount of time, they got creative with how they spent time together. 

“During the peak of the pandemic, it was a lot of doing things on our own and then talking to each other, but now it’s slowly getting back to decently normal,” Fitts said. “We would watch shows on our own then FaceTime, and talk about the episode.”

Weider’s tips for crafting the perfect first message are to play into what you can tell about the person you match with. He thinks someone should add a bit of their personality to be funny, insightful or intriguing but not creepy. 

“I’d love to hang out and go on dates, but at the same time, I realize that’s going to be a lot harder,” Weider said. "However, I do think staying in and doing at-home dates or getting food and bringing it back home is gonna become more prevalent, and I’m okay with that." 

Classroom crushes are now a thing of the past. Instead, junior Sydney Cohen says her Zoom crushes are not serious but make classes fun.

“It's definitely a way to stay focused in class because online learning is not the most interactive in the classes that I'm doing,” Cohen said. “So by focusing on one person, aka a Zoom crush, it keeps me more attentive and makes me look forward to going to class.”

Cohen added that a Zoom crush can turn into a new friendship.

“By reaching out to these people, you're putting yourself out there,” she said. “And I think that that's very positively reciprocated during this time because so many of us are in the same position.”

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University reporter Emma Nipp and Arts reporter Chloe Joseph contributed reporting.