When you download Hinge and begin filling in your location, occupation, and favorite movie quote, should you etch in your immunity level as well? While most dating app users continue to leave theirs unlisted, experts say more and more now include their COVID status in their dating profile, as shelter-at-home orders get extended across the United States.
According to Lily Walford, a relationship coach and founder of the dating company Love With Intelligence, if you were to join a dating app today, you'd probably discover sentences like "am healthy" or "COVID-free" in user bios. And while that information may very well prove helpful, the unfortunate truth is that it's often listed as a way that further facilitates in-person hookups, rejecting the rules of stay-at-home orders.
Listing your COVID status, Walford says, could actually point to a lack of respect for current restrictions, and a willingness to further spread the virus by matching and meeting up with multiple people. It isn't malicious, per se, but some folks are having a hard time adhering to these new social norms. And when you're bored, horny, and lonely, it can be tempting to throw caution to the wind.
I said I would post my test results if I had been exposed, in hopes that it would make me more marketable!
For Maria, 38, a Tinder user, listing her health status is something she'd consider doing in order to match with more people and score more dates. "I was just speaking to a friend about dating amid COVID, and my plans to get an antibody test to determine my exposure," she tells Bustle. "In jest, I said I would post my test results if I had been exposed, in hopes that it would make me more marketable!"
The problem is, many people can carry the virus without knowing it, or pick it up after testing negative. And that's why experts agree this trend is not only unhelpful but potentially dangerous. "This virus is so new, and there is the possibility of false positives or negatives, and who knows if new strains may even emerge," Rachel DeAlto, the chief dating expert at Match, tells Bustle. "For the time being, I don’t think it’s necessary and can potentially be inaccurate.”
It is, however, OK to talk about coronavirus online — you can vent about social distancing, ask how people are holding up, confess any ongoing anxieties, and get to know each other virtually. In fact, talking candidly about COVID-19 can help to normalize testing positive with the virus. According to a spokesperson for Tinder, the app has witnessed an increase in many coronavirus-related terms in users' bios, including "stay home, be safe," "how are you," as well as "social distancing" and "wash your hands."
A Bumble representative tells Bustle that over 100,000 users have updated their dating profiles to mention that they are self-quarantining. And, in response to social distancing, the platform has created a new video chat option, so that users can go on virtual dates form the safety of their homes — rendering a COVID status shoutout even more unnecessary.
So, should users consider listing their COVID status moving forward?
"I don’t think it needs to be something you see when you pop onto their profile at first, but if you’re talking to someone and are planning [on meeting up after quarantine], you should say something," Kim, 27, a Hinge user, tells Bustle. "I think more information upfront is better, rather than finding it out after it’s too late."
DeAlto agrees that sharing your COVID status in your own time can be an important step in a relationship, in the same way that you'd open up about other personal topics. "I do believe in having honest conversations about your health, just not necessarily on a dating profile," DeAlto says. "This can be a topic of discussion after making a connection and can help build a deeper understanding of one another."