Reader stories: Prague singles talk love and sex during lockdown

Zoom dates, status checks, and lots of takeaway coffee -- this is dating during a pandemic in the Czech Republic

Julie Orlova

Written by Julie Orlova
Published on 17.12.2020 09:20 (updated on 05.01.2021)

Dating during the Tinder age, already tricky business, has gotten a whole lot more complicated during the restriction of movement, curfew, and ongoing bar closures taking place on and off since March.

But a study conducted during the first wave by anthropologist Kateřina Klapilová found that sexual desire as well as the motivation to find a stable partner are increasing among Czechs just as opportunities for making physical and emotional connections are being limited.

We asked a number of expats in Prague who are active on the local dating scene to discuss the challenges they've faced during this surreal time for singles. Their advice? Most respondents said being patient, creative and direct about your intentions have helped them lead a fulfilling dating life during the pandemic. Read their stories below:

An asterisk indicates that a name has been changed for privacy reasons. Quotes have been edited for clarity and length.

Juliana* (26): You can't see each other for who you truly are

“Since the start of the pandemic, my expectations changed from high to impossible to meet. I’ve been on the look for a serious relationship and I know that I want. Since I am looking for my equal, emotionally, culturally, and financially, it’s essential for me to test the person in different circumstances: whether they’re willing to get the restaurant check, discuss an art exhibition or plan something exciting together. Plus, both of you have fewer opportunities to live your proper lives full of hobbies, trips, and get-togethers. As a result, you can not see each other for who you truly are."

PRIVATE PROPERTIES

Apartment for rent, Flatshare, 17m<sup>2</sup>

Apartment for rent, Flatshare, 17m2

Kostelní, Praha 7 - Holešovice

Apartment for rent, 2+kk - 1 bedroom, 50m<sup>2</sup>

Apartment for rent, 2+kk - 1 bedroom, 50m2

Sekaninova, Praha 2 - Nusle

Apartment for rent, 3+kk - 2 bedrooms, 90m<sup>2</sup>

Apartment for rent, 3+kk - 2 bedrooms, 90m2

V stráni, Praha 5 - Košíře

Apartment for rent, 2+kk - 1 bedroom, 56m<sup>2</sup>

Apartment for rent, 2+kk - 1 bedroom, 56m2

U Mlýnského kanálu, Praha 8 - Karlín

"Both waves of lockdown took away from my potential partners the opportunity to show their worth. With COVID raging, after a couple of walks in the cold park and takeaway coffees, you move your relationship to the home environment, relaxed, familiar, and limiting. Quickly I find myself in the dangerous territory of getting very close to the person I barely know. It usually takes me a while to invite somebody to my place or accept the invitation. Now, you don’t have any choice: it’s cold outside, you are bored, you want some closeness. Having said that, I am ready to extend my boundaries a little. Big chances are never small stakes.”

Anna* (24) I’ve refused dates due to uncertainty over COVID status

“I’ve been swiping on Tinder since I arrived in Prague in March, and my dating life has never been more active. When I came to start a new job, I didn’t know anybody at all and treated Tinder as a way to find people who would show me around and talk to me. Before summer I didn’t go on many dates, but since the second lockdown was announced I went out with three different guys and it’s been great. You have to be creative with your walks because everything is closed, but I’m new here, so every stroll is a discovery. 

Tinder is tricky to navigate these days because there are a lot more lonely and bored people looking for one-nights-stands. It makes sense to be more careful with whom you choose to have sex during the pandemic. I live in a flatshare, so I want to be sure I am not jeopardizing anyone’s health and safety. I’ve definitely refused meeting with some people because one of us wasn’t sure about their negative status. Luckily, that was always met with complete understanding and respect.”

Jackson (29) My rules: wear a mask and wear a condom!

“Dating has been completely different, but the change has been nice. Thanks to the lockdown and the curfew, the dates I’ve had have been very intimate and I feel like I get to know people better because there are fewer distractions, so we concentrate on each other more. I cooked dinner for a guy on our second date, we had some Prosecco and a long stimulating conversation, and then we woke up the next day and went to work. Makes me wonder if I am finally an adult!"

PRIVATE PROPERTIES

Apartment for rent, Flatshare, 17m<sup>2</sup>

Apartment for rent, Flatshare, 17m2

Kostelní, Praha 7 - Holešovice

Apartment for rent, 2+kk - 1 bedroom, 50m<sup>2</sup>

Apartment for rent, 2+kk - 1 bedroom, 50m2

Sekaninova, Praha 2 - Nusle

Apartment for rent, 3+kk - 2 bedrooms, 90m<sup>2</sup>

Apartment for rent, 3+kk - 2 bedrooms, 90m2

V stráni, Praha 5 - Košíře

Apartment for rent, 2+kk - 1 bedroom, 56m<sup>2</sup>

Apartment for rent, 2+kk - 1 bedroom, 56m2

U Mlýnského kanálu, Praha 8 - Karlín

Jackson, 29, says while dating has been completely different since the pandemic, the change has been nice.
Jackson, 29, says while dating has been completely different since the pandemic, the change has been nice.

In my opinion, as long as you are following the government’s guidelines, you shouldn’t feel guilty about meeting other people. I was seeing somebody right before the second lockdown, and we broke up by default because he never wanted to break the isolation, which seemed like an overreaction. I believe everybody should be able to live their normal lives as long as they don’t break any rules. Dating during the pandemic is less dangerous than going to the grocery store on a Saturday. My rules: wear a mask and wear a condom!”

Andrew* (30) Maybe “real” dates are overrated

“My partner of 5 years and I broke up a month before the second lockdown. By the time I was ready to distract myself with somebody else, the cafes had been closed, the bars had stopped serving drinks, and the only way to feel attractive and wanted again had become the wild pool of online dating. I am not completely new to this game, but the idea of a long chat over an instant real-life connection terrifies me. Despite that, I’ve tried."

While there are no formal restrictions in place on dating in the Czech Republic during the pandemic, guidelines for offline meetings were issued on the Czech government's official Covid Portál earlier this year much to the amusement of social media. Those include: "Dating in a mask is, of course, annoying. But take it off at your own risk" and "Don't forget that nowadays you can also date over the internet".

"I’ve been fully transparent on Tinder, saying that I’m not looking for anything serious, but some chat and maybe something in the bedroom. I was expecting more matches since people are stuck at home not doing much, and I have a lot to offer. But getting people to meet with me has been hard. People are ready to leave their homes only for somebody really special. I haven’t managed to have an offline date with anybody yet. Although I had a Zoom date and it went great; we had some wine, shared a dinner and a movie on Netflix, and talked to each other until we went to bed. Maybe 'real' dates are overrated.”

Amberstar (35) Harder to weave through the nonsense on dating apps

“During the pandemic, it became harder to weave through the nonsense on dating apps. I am looking for a man who is as independent as I am, but what I find is a lot of bored and lonely people. I have been on a couple of dates since the lockdown was implemented, but there was no connection, and I accept that. I filtered some people out by declining their online dates propositions.

AGENCY PROPERTIES

Family house for sale, 198m<sup>2</sup>, 330m<sup>2</sup> of land

Family house for sale, 198m2, 330m2 of land

Zvonická, Praha 6 - Dejvice

Apartment for sale, 1+KK - Studio, 46m<sup>2</sup>

Apartment for sale, 1+KK - Studio, 46m2

Kobližná, Brno - Brno-město

Apartment for rent, 2+kk - 1 bedroom, 40m<sup>2</sup>

Apartment for rent, 2+kk - 1 bedroom, 40m2

Bryksova, Praha 9 - Černý Most

Apartment for rent, 1+KK - Studio, 34m<sup>2</sup>

Apartment for rent, 1+KK - Studio, 34m2

Vinohradská, Praha 3 - Žižkov

For me Zoom dates are cheap and I feel like I have more control when we meet face to face. I understand that it has been tough for people who don’t have a long term partner right now, but I’m not going to submit to the hookup culture and let anybody waste my time.

"The most important relationship I have is with myself, and no pandemic or lockdown is going to change that. My second priority is not to waste anybody’s time and not to lead anybody on. I’ve been open about my intentions with my dating companions and they were very graceful about it. I still believe people will find what they are looking for, but maybe the lockdown should be used to improve on the relationship with yourself.”