Intimate Relationships during COVID-19 across the Genders: An Examination of the Interactions of Digital Dating, Sexual Behavior, and Mental Health

Amanda Evangeline Ting, Craig Steven McLachlan

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

Abstract

The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in economic hardship, psychological stress, anxiety, and depression in a significant proportion of the global population. However, the bidirectional effects of social isolation and pre-existing or developed psychological stress could inform sexual behaviors and affect digital dating outcomes. Additionally, it is unknown whether intimate behaviors and relationships have been equally affected across the genders during the COVID-19 pandemic. The purpose of this study is to contrast the course of intimate relationships pre-and post-COVID-19, with a focus on diverse genders, digital dating, mental health, and behavior. A review of the dating landscape during COVID-19 is developed in this study, encompassing themes including diverse genders, sexual orientation, demographic characteristics, sexual behavior, the state of psychological wellbeing, and interactions with digital dating apps. The authors reviewed the trends and challenges of digital romance. Dating before and during the pandemic is explored, discussing how COVID-19 experiences may inform future romantic partnerships. Mobile dating applications saw a surge in downloads and usage across popular platforms, including Tinder (3 billion swipes in March 2020) and Ok Cupid (700% increase in dates), with the top 20 dating apps gaining 1.5 million daily users. Cross-sectionally, being younger, single, and having higher levels of stress was a predictor of higher dating-app usage during the COVID-19 lockdowns. Risky sexual behavior and having multiple sexual partners were reduced during social distancing as there was an increased worry of contracting the virus. Heightened incidents of domestic/intimate partner abuse have caught the headlines in several countries. COVID-19 during lockdown has also posed barriers to accessing support and help from sexual and mental health services.

Original languageEnglish
Article number297
JournalSocial Sciences
Volume11
Issue number7
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2022

Keywords

  • COVID-19
  • dating apps
  • dating behavior
  • digital sexual behavior
  • mental health
  • mental health impacts
  • online dating
  • sexual psychological health

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