Dating six-feet apart


Brianne Williams, Writer

El Pasoans have worried about transitioning back to in-person, after dating virtually during the pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic altered dating for single El Pasoans, however some long-term couples are still going strong.

After nearly two years of living in a pandemic, many have adjusted to the fact that this may be the “new normal.” Quarantine forced people to stay in their homes, forcing most to interact through social media. Yet, nearly a year later and a more vaccinated county some UTEP students are finding themselves struggling to get back to in-person dating.

Lilly Arvizu, 18, and Herman Cantu, 19, started dating in their freshman year of high school. After dating for a few months, the couple split, but then got back together “a year and a half later,” and have been inseparable ever since.

“He’s my best friend,” Arvizu said.

Arvizu is currently a freshman at UTEP, while Cantu is not enrolled in school. Just like much of the world during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, the two lost physical contact with one another, but used technology to stay connected .

“I didn’t get to see him often,” Arvizu said. “Communication through facetime and texting all day kept the love alive.” According to an article from CNET, a website dedicated to making the “ever-changing world useful reported in August 2021, that the three most popular dating apps in 2021 were Bumble, Tinder and OKCupid. When quarantines started in March 2020, these dating apps received a major increase in swipes and downloads, according to a Fortune report from February 2021. Fortune reported that Tinder had reached its highest recorded swipes in a single day, totaling 3 billion. Dating through OKCupid increased by 700%, and Bumble’s video chatting increased by 70% from March to May.

But, some noticed, this kind of dating might have also hindered a person’s ability to socially interact with others.

“I lowkey forgot how to flirt,” UTEP Computer Science major and sophomore Jeremiah Clark said.

“When we did see each other in person, it would be car ride dates since everything was shut down,” Arvizu said. “Due to lack of face-to-face connection it made things awkward whenever we did see each other.”

Eventually, Cantu contracted COVID-19, putting yet another obstacle between the two.


Are you vaccinated?


“It was important to me and he was very hesitant at first, but I got him to get vaccinated,” Arvizu said. “We are both vaccinated. We got vaccinated around March or May.”

COVID-19 has caused millions to lose their jobs, homes, family members, and friends. For a while during the pandemic, there were no hospital beds available, nor were there places to discard the bodies of those who lost the battle. This stage in the pandemic seemed like an eternity for some. Necessities such as food, water and toilet paper were limited, causing many to go into a state of panic. Everyone was required to social distance six-feet between one another to avoid close contamination. With the introduction of the Moderna, Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson vaccines, along with the decrease in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in El Paso, these restrictions have either been loosened or gotten rid of altogether.

Though lonely El Pasoans may be excited to start dating again, this new terrain comes with nerves, fears and tense conversations about controversial topics.

At the start of a new relationship, some may ask the status of one’s sexual history to determine if sexually transmitted diseases are present. Now, with the pandemic, “Are you fully vaccinated?” is added to the list of getting-to-know-you questions as relationship seekers found themselves taking more precautions to defend themselves against COVID-19.In fact, at one point a trend that has died down was sparked to promote getting vaccinated, social media users would post a picture of their vaccination cards to social media, to show all of one’s followers that they were fully vaccinated.

But, some students at UTEP do not look for vaccination records and out of what they say is the respect for others’ decision to get vaccinated or not.

“I can’t determine a relationship based on if they are vaccinated,” UTEP sophomore Jeremiah Clark said. “If they are that’s great; if not they have their reasons.”

Besides that, face masks, which are still required in many public places and cover the bottom half of the human face have sparked the term, “Mask Fishing,” coined on TikTok through a trend where people record themselves wearing face masks and at the end, they reveal what their face looks like, asking people to comment whether they look like what the viewer expected. Even though wearing face masks has made wearers more comfortable, some members of the TikTok community see “mask fishing” as an opportunity to expose and embarrass those who prefer wearing a mask.

“It’s become harder to find a trustworthy and dependable partner,” Clark said.

On top of this, El Paso’s close-knit community seems to have also presented a problem in the dating world.

“El Paso is so small,” Clark said. “Most people know each other; you could be talking to your best friend’s ex.”

Aside from El Paso being a “small” city, others feel that the lack of diversity adds to the struggle of dating.

“There technically is not a lot of diversity when it comes to dating in El Paso,” Ortiz said.

The most common first date, according to a New York Times article published in May 2021, is dinner and a movie. For the city of El Paso, which some El Pasoans say, does not have much to do, one of the most common attractions is Scenic Drive. Much like dinner and a movie, Scenic drive is up for debate on whether it is considered romantic or “basic” , which is another term for mainstream.

“It’s a little basic,” Ortiz said. “It’s what you make of it.”

“Romantic,” Villarreal said.

There are some El Pasoans however that may argue that there is plenty to do around town if you are open-minded.

“We have Urban Air, Bob-O’s, bowling,” Clark said. “There’s many places, you just got to be willing to go out and explore. You can even take something so basic and make it memorable.”

Aside from activities around town, quarantine has given El Pasoans time and creativity to come up with their own fun, increasing stay-at-home dates.

“It’s not boring when you’re dating the right person,” Arvizu said. “You don’t have to go out and do stuff to have fun. Being at home learning to do stuff like cook and try to bake or do crafts is always fun.”

By Brianne Williams

En breve

Después de casi dos años de vivir en pandemia, muchas personas se ajustaron al hecho de que tal vez esta sería la ‘nueva normalidad’. La cuarentena forzó a personas a estar en casa, forzando a la mayoría a interactuar por medio de las redes sociales. Aun así, casi un año después y con más personas vacunadas, algunos estudiantes de UTEP se encuentran batallando para regresar a tener citas en persona.

De acuerdo con un artículo de CNET, una página web dedicada a reseñas, demostraciones y lo último en tecnología, reportó en agosto 2021, que las tres aplicaciones más populares en 2021 fueron Bumble, Tinder y OKCupid. Al inicio de la cuarentena en marzo 2020, estas aplicaciones recibieron un incremento exponencial en swipes y descargas, de acuerdo con un reporte de febrero 2021 de la revista Fortune. Fortune reportó que Tinder alcanzo su más grande récord de swipes en un día, llegando a un total de 3 billones. Las relaciones por medio de OKCupid incrementaron un 700%, y las videollamadas por Bumble incrementaron un 70% de marzo a mayo.

‘Cuando nos veíamos en persona, tenía que ser en citas en coche ya que todo estaba cerrado’ dijo Arvizu. ‘Debido a la falta de conexión en persona, las cosas eran incomodas cada que nos veíamos’

Eventualmente, Cantú contrajo COVID-19, poniendo otro obstáculo más entre los dos.

¿Estas vacunado?

COVID-19 ha causado que millones de personas perdieran su trabajo, hogares, familiares, amigos y demás seres queridos. Por mucho tiempo, durante la pandemia no había camillas disponibles en los hospitales, ni lugares para desechar los cuerpos de aquellos que perdieron la batalla. Esta etapa de la pandemia parecía eterne para algunos. Artículos básicos tales como comida, agua y papel de baño eran limitados, provocando que muchos entraran en estado de pánico. Todos se vieron forzados a practicar el distanciamiento social de seis pies entre cada uno para prevenir el contagio. Con la llegada de las vacunas Moderna, Pfizer y Johnson & Johnson, y con la disminución en casos de COVID-19 y hospitalizaciones en El Paso, estas restricciones han disminuido o desaparecido por completo.

A pesar de que los paseños están emocionados de tener citas otra vez, este nuevo terreno viene con nervios, miedos y conversaciones tensas sobre temas controversiales.

‘No puedo determinar una relación basada en si están vacunados o no’ dijo el estudiante de segundo año Jeremiah Clark. ‘Si lo están, bien; si no, ellos han de tener sus razones’

By Maria L. Guerrero Duran