“And I can show you my negative test.”
That used to be the 2020 dating assurance many people needed to agree to meet someone new in person. Now, with vaccines widely available, the offer has changed.
But with evolving science and vaccine hesitancy causing some people to resist the jab, how and when should a couple getting to know each other have “the talk?” Post-pandemic, that talk is about immunity, not monogamy.
No Shot — No Date? Not Necessarily
With so many people already vaccinated, the question has become whether or not someone should advertise his or her vaccine status online. Some apps have made that very easy.
Our nation’s largest dating digital apps have expanded to include the ability to share vaccination status, some even offering a “Vaccinated" badge that users can add to their profiles. This announcement was even shared straight from the White House in a Spring 2021 COVID-19 response briefing, signaling the perceived public importance of knowing vaccine status as in-person socializing resumes.
Apparently, dating apps OK Cupid and Match not only have vaccinated badges you can boast on your profile, but they will boost your profile as a reward for rolling up your sleeve.
But for many singles, vaccination status is not a dealbreaker. True, prospective daters want to make sure they have the information necessary to pursue relationships that are healthy both physically and emotionally.
But many people who have not had the jab are tested on the job, either because of the type of work they do, or to accommodate medical or religious exemptions. And on the other hand, fully vaccinated people can still contract the virus.
But as a broader question, within the spectrum of important characteristics, is a prospective paramour’s vaccine status the most important consideration for relationship potential? Most people would answer “no.”
Safety is Security
When considering romantic partners, we all gravitate toward others with whom we feel safe, both physically and emotionally. The anxiety associated with communicable disease can hinder the development of romantic feelings, and create apprehension when spending time with someone who may pose a health risk.
But even in a post-pandemic age, there may be other ways to instill a sense of safety.
As health-related science evolves, so do effective precautionary measures. Many couples continue to practice some of the safety-related dating strategies they began during the pandemic, such as patio dining, outdoor sporting events or concerts, or romantic walks on the beach, to ensure a COVID-free courtship.
But according to research, people may instinctively gauge health in other ways. Consequently, vaccination status does not appear to be the most important element of attraction.
The Look of Health
Despite the inordinate amount of time you might have put into crafting your perfect online profile description, most people make online dating decisions by looking at your photo. And apparently, your photo may transmit more information than you intended.
Regarding health, a photo is perceived, correctly or incorrectly, as more revealing than a vaccination.
Yong Zhi Foo et al. (2017) found that facial color can make men appear more attractive.
They begin by noting that carotenoid-based coloration is an important factor that determines mate choice in many types of animal species, because carotenoids function as antioxidants, which only the healthy can afford to use for “signaling.” They note that attractive traits forecast the biological quality of the signaler, including health.
Testing the impact of carotenoid beta-carotene supplements in men, Foo et al. found that it enhanced yellowness and redness of skin coloring, which increased facial attractiveness and the perception of health, although it did not impact actual health. In other words, looking healthy doesn’t mean someone is healthy.
Nonetheless, they concluded that because perceived attractiveness impacts successful mating, their results indicate sexual selection of carotenoid-based skin color in men. Recognizing that mate selection is a two-way street, and carotenoids influence the appearance of both men and women, they acknowledge that it would be interesting to investigate the extent to which their findings could be replicated with women.
So regarding the decision whether to advertise vaccine status on your dating profile, pairing information with visual imagery is apparently the most practical combination.
This article was originally published in Psychology Today.
Wendy L. Patrick, JD, MDiv, PhD, is an award-winning career trial attorney and media commentator. She is host of "Live with Dr. Wendy" on KCBQ and a daily guest on other media outlets, delivering a lively mix of flash, substance and style. Read Dr. Wendy L. Patrick's Reports — More Here.
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