Love in the time of corona.
While the coronavirus pandemic prompts people to isolate themselves from the world, some heartsick stars like former “Survivor” contestant Kellyn Bechtold have managed to find love online amid the outbreak.
The heartsick “Survivor: Ghost Island” contestant discovered her soulmate serendipitously after the COVID-19 scourge forced her to relocate from Asia to Spain. Bechtold tells Reuters she was using Bumble to find “people who could speak English because my Spanish is not great, and ended up meeting this gentleman, now 10 days ago.”
A mere week after a first date filled with kisses and chips, “we have built a home together and are living together there,” gushes the former reality TV star in a new video.
Unfortunately, by that time, the coronavirus had followed her to Spain, forcing Bechtold to put her “Survivor” skills to the test. To stay safe, the lovebirds hunkered down together at her other half’s Málaga apartment amid the COVID-19 lockdown, only breaking isolation to go on an essential grocery run.
“We were on our second date, and the next morning I wake up and it’s kind of like Madrid has started to shut down,” says the petrified former contestant. “I was supposed to go to Madrid.”
Her worried paramour put the kibosh on the harebrained notion: “He was like, ‘You are crazy. Do not go to Madrid right now. It’s a hot spot,’ ” says Bechtold. Spain is one of Europe’s latest pandemic epicenters, recording a whopping 17,395 cases as of Thursday, according to Worldometer.
Despite the dire circumstances, Bechtold is grateful to have met a soulmate. “I’m just so thankful for him, also he’s thankful for me,” she says, adding that if they hadn’t matched, “he would have been holed up in his apartment completely alone.”
Bechtold’s not the first to find a paramour during the pandemic — the coronavirus has even proved an unlikely wingman in some instances.
“First message people are sending everywhere in the world, in the millions is, ‘hey, how are you doing with coronavirus?’ ” says Melissa Hobley, marketing chief of internet hookup site OkCupid. She adds, “And then that’s translating to virtual dates.”
As a result, OkCupid has reportedly seen an uptick in young users in hookup hubs like New York, while rival Bumble’s usage has remained steady during the epidemic. However, most of the romantics resort to conversing via in-app video chats to prevent exposing themselves to COVID-19 by meeting in person.
Some Westerners have even inadvertently landed Chinese lovers by using Tinder to glean outbreak info straight from the source. In one heartwarming Tinderella story, a US user matched with a Wuhan railway worker, whom she plans to meet up with when the pandemic dust settles.
However, that’s not the norm. In fact, dating apps are struggling to attract new users in government-quarantined countries, with Tinder installations dipping 37% in Spain and 41% in Italy from last week, Reuters reports. And while some New Yorkers are managing to get cozy during lockdown, long-distance relationships are suffering amid the outbreak.
Hookup apps are even warning users about the dangers of dating face-to-face during the coronavirus scourge. Tinder recently ran a pop-up featuring tips and a checklist covering the basic protocol for avoiding a viral infection, which is consistent with advice from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Still, PSAs haven’t stopped the love pilgrimages of thrill-seeking New Yorkers, who are now using Craigslist to find partners with whom they can literally go out with a “bang.”
One coronavirus kinkster wrote: “If it’s end of days we can at least go satisfied, and if we live through it then we have an interesting story to share for the rest of our lives.”