The Most Important Issue To Daters Right Now Has Nothing To Do With Physical Attraction

Photo: Getty Images/Sanja Radin
The pandemic has changed so many aspects of our lives, and dating isn’t exempt. For instance, some folks are nervous about dating in a post-lockdown world, and others are keen to hop right into fast-tracked turbo relationships. That said, COVID-19 has changed much more than the way we date—it’s also led to a shift in what constitutes a dealbreaker. Namely, vaccination status and dating.

Match recently shared a key finding from its forthcoming 11th annual Singles in America survey of 5,000 people: Vaccination status is now an integral issue that the majority of singles contend with in the dating world right now—and it’s an issue that didn’t even exist last year. According to results, 58 percent of respondents reported vaccination to be the most important issue with regard to considering a potential partner—even more than traditional dealbreakers like political affiliation (53 percent) or religion (43 percent).

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The survey results also found that 73 percent of singles reported that they’re vaccinated (compared to 64 percent of the general U.S. population), and two out of three singles said they want their dating partners to be vaccinated. Though, of the respondents who are vaccinated, 80 percent said they want their partner to be vaccinated, too.

And really, these findings about vaccination status and dating should both come as no surprise and be affirming of the priority that public health has become during the pandemic era. “It’s a matter of basic safety,” says individual and couples therapist Larry Letich. “Anyone who accepts the reality that the Delta variant is extremely contagious, and that it could still make even fully vaccinated people very ill, isn’t going to want to get up close and personal with someone who’s more likely to give them [COVID-19]. While fully vaccinated people could give someone else [COVID-19], it’s far less likely.”

“Vaccination status is something that…cannot be considered independently of other criteria for many people, because it has life-and-death consequences.” —Jess Carbino, PhD

The Singles in America survey also found more than 50 percent of singles are unlikely to have sex with an unvaccinated partner, consider an unvaccinated person for a romantic relationship, or go on a first or second date with someone who’s unvaccinated. One explanation for this (beyond the obvious aforementioned public-health concerns), is that vaccination status can be viewed as a microcosm of someone’s beliefs and values—which, for folks who are not vaccinated, may signal a misalignment of those beliefs and values.

“Vaccination status is something that…cannot be considered independently of other criteria for many people, because it has life-and-death consequences,” says relationship and dating expert Jess Carbino, PhD, former sociologist for Tinder and Bumble. “The possibility of not understanding whether or not someone poses a risk to them—or would theoretically limit their ability to do their job, meet other people, or be social” is completely reliant on that person’s vaccination status, she adds.

With that in mind, it makes sense that vaccination status is a prerequisite for any question of dating or being in a viable relationship with another person. As Letich points out, “feeling safe—which means being with someone who cares about whether you’re safe—is a very basic, bottom-line desire for everybody.”

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