The Power of Love: Couples Face the Challenges of the Pandemic to Find That Special One

The covid-19 pandemic has affected so many memorable moments in life and even impacted everyday events, from school to restaurants to visiting family members.

One thing he hasn’t mastered is love.

“Dating and getting married during the pandemic has been and has been an extremely unique experience. Looking back, it all worked out much better than we could have imagined,” said Gabriela Miller, 27, of Washington Township, who married about six months after the pandemic hit the west. of Pennsylvania. “Regardless of the circumstances, when two people commit to love each other unconditionally, nothing can separate them.”

According to a MedStar Health survey, 47% of adults in the United States are re-entering the dating scene, despite the pandemic. The results show that daters value vaccination status over similar political opinions. When asked to prioritize traits, daters showed that personal hygiene was key, followed by similar life views, then vaccination status, financial stability, future goals similar and of similar political opinions.

The survey found that 61% would discuss their vaccination status when dating someone new and 57% would share food on a date.

The pandemic hasn’t stopped people from finding love, Susan Dunhoff, founder of The Modern Matchmaker Inc. told Squirrel Hill.

“People are always looking for love,” Dunhoff said. “Covid-19 is not retaining customers.”

Physically distanced

The pandemic has tried to separate Miller and her husband Nathaniel Miller, 24, from Jeannette. They met on the dating site Christian Cafe. He signed up for a 10-day trial and found his profile, which was no longer active. The site emailed him about a trial opportunity and the ability to check his posts.

When she did, it read, “I’d like to get to know you.”

She lived in the Dominican Republic. He lived here. Nathaniel Miller first visited her in August 2019. They saw each other monthly until February 2020, when closures prevented travel.

They endured a period of four months during which they could not physically see each other. They had to take the required covid-19 tests after being able to travel.

“When covid really started in the US, all flights were canceled with no way to see each other,” Gabriela Miller said. “I didn’t know when we could see each other, and my country also closed all the borders for entering and leaving. We have needed a lot of patience and deeper trust in each other over the past two years.

When they were able to see each other again after this long separation, they decided to make sure that it never happened again. They filled out the paperwork for Gabriela to get her green card. They were married on September 5, 2020 at Holiday Park Bible Church in Plum.

They overcame a positive test for the virus in December 2020. He was sick for a day. She was sick for two to three weeks.

Love carried them through, they said.

The Millers are expecting a baby girl in April.

Virtual meetings

Like the Millers, Dr. Sripirya Gonakoti and Akshaya Jha met through a dating app called Bumble. Their relationship started as usual – talking on the phone and exchanging text messages and emails.

Their first date, however, was not so ordinary.

“We met on Zoom,” said Jha, 34, an assistant professor of economics and public policy at Carnegie Mellon University’s Heinz College. “We didn’t meet in person until weeks later.”

They went online at the start of the pandemic in March 2020. Virtual dates and social distancing became commonplace. Getting to know each other while wearing masks and social distancing hasn’t been easy.

Not having many places to go on a date also made it difficult. Cinemas, restaurants, bars and museums were closed due to state mandates. Singles needed to find less traditional ways to “meet” and get to know each other.

“You had to be a little more creative on date night,” Jha said. “And it was more fun finding interesting ways to do things than sitting at home.”

home Sweet Home

Paige Obringer, 21, said she and her boyfriend, Zack Inklovich, 23, both of Clinton, Butler County, spent a lot of time in the house. They continue to keep things low-key for Valentine’s Day with a nice dinner at home, as they have done many times over the past two years.

“For most of the pandemic, we’ve been watching Netflix a lot and spending time with our dog,” Obringer said. “I think it strengthened the relationship because we really got to know each other on a deep, personal level.”

Having that alone time was positive, Gonakoti and Jha agreed. They said they spent time talking and listening.

“We learned a lot about each other,” Jha said. “We took things slowly.”

Gonakoti and Jha met in person in May 2020, about two months after their first virtual date. They went for a walk on the river trail at North Shore Riverfront Park. An outdoor concert by the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra was another fun date. They mainly dined in outdoor restaurants.

Vaccine matches

Gonakoti, 32, a hospitalist at Allegheny General Hospital on Pittsburgh’s North Side, was extremely cautious as a healthcare worker.

Questions about Covid-19 moods were fairly common from potential dates, Gonakoti said, Jha included. She waited 12 hours before answering him because she had answered the question so many times, she said.

“Yeah, I think a lot of us in healthcare at the time were overwhelmed with all the new information that was coming in and of course we were trying to keep up with everything to better care for our patients,” he said. she declared. “So I think it was overwhelming to keep hearing about covid all day at work and then having to talk about it in social settings.”

They both received covid vaccines as well as booster shots.

Because a profile is personalized for the client, Dunhoff said, a person can request to only be matched with vaccinated clients.

She shared her story of how she met her husband, David, at an event she was hosting at the River’s Club in downtown Pittsburgh.

“It only takes one special person,” she said.

Gonakoti and Jha, who live on Pittsburgh’s North Shore, tied the knot Nov. 21 at The Art Room in the Strip District with 63 guests. They broadcast the wedding live. They had originally planned to marry in their native India, but covid prevented that from happening. They incorporated wedding traditions from India with the help of wedding planner Erin Calvimontes from Divine Celebrations.

Gonakoti’s parents were able to travel from India. Jha’s parents live in Wisconsin, so they were there too.

Jha met her in-laws in person two weeks before the wedding.

The couple said they learned their relationship could survive a pandemic. Covid-19 was a blessing in disguise, Gonakoti said. They are planning a nice dinner at home on Valentine’s Day.

“Sometimes you have to find the little things in the big picture,” Gonakoti said.

“Trying to be Safe”

Yurij Wowczuk, 49, from Mount Lebanon said dating during the pandemic has been difficult. There are fewer places open to visit on a date or to meet people. He said on first dates they would wear masks and social distance.

About half the time he was asked if he was vaccinated, he said.

“It makes sense because we’re all trying to be safe and careful,” Wowczuk said. “Some of the conventional ways of meeting people are not available. I find Zoom dates inconvenient.

Wowczuk met dates through dating site Bumble and through Dunhoff’s company. He said working with someone as experienced in dating as Dunhoff gave him hope of finding someone.

“Dating during the pandemic has been frustrating,” he said. “It hasn’t worked for me yet, but I anticipate it will. No one should have to go through pandemic encounters. I hope we can get back to some normality one day.

Obringer and Inklovich live only minutes apart but met when she traveled two hours to Erie. She was a student at Slippery Rock and he attended Penn State Behrend. Obringer’s sister, a friend and her boyfriend were on a trip to Erie. Obringer invited herself.

It was late 2018. Both graduated during the pandemic and found ways to have safe dates — like walking their dog, Josie, a 2-year-old Labrador retriever in Harrison Hills Park .

“There were times when we couldn’t be together because a member of our family was sick, and we wanted to be careful,” said Obringer, who turned 21 in April and was unable to organize a big party. “The pandemic has taught us to be careful not only of ourselves, but also of others.”

“Unusual Moment”

Dating during a pandemic is difficult on so many levels, Dunhoff said.

“Clients couldn’t meet in person,” she said. “And some of them were nervous about dating, so we did Zoom meetings and email exchanges where they shared information. It’s not quite the same as being in the same room, but it was better than nothing.

Finding the right match during a pandemic makes it even more special, Jha said.

“It’s really an unusual moment when we met,” Jha said. “The positive thing is that now we will have a story to tell our children and grandchildren.”

JoAnne Klimovich Harrop is editor of Tribune-Review. You can contact JoAnne at 724-853-5062, or via Twitter .

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