Are we really in for a summer of love? A post-vaccine dating investigation.

How much kissing will happen this summer? | Annette Riedl/picture alliance via Getty ImagesDating podcasters, condom companies, bartenders, and college students weigh in on the horny months to come. “I’m excited to go a bit buck wild and feel so much safer,” says Elena, a recently vaccinated college student. “Just go on a lot of dates, make out with some guys, nothing serious.” The 20-year-old Salt Lake City resident, who asked that her last name be withheld to protect her privacy, is ready to make up for lost time in her romantic life. She did some app dating during the pandemic, but Covid-19 was a constant presence, with several of her dates later telling her they’d been exposed (though she never caught the coronavirus). During quarantine, Elena spent time rehashing missed chances in her love life. “I was just thinking, ‘When I’m out of this, I’m going to make the most of every opportunity,’” she says. In Manhattan, Marc Hernandez, a bartender at the cocktail bar Ampersand, says that even at 50 percent capacity, the scene — “which has always been one for first dates” — is already feeling like its pre-Covid days. “That gets me thinking that the summer is going to be a little wild,” he says. “When I’m out of this, I’m going to make the most of every opportunity” “Shot girl summer.” “Vaxxed and waxed.” The “whoring 20s.” As the US becomes increasingly inoculated and the weather continues to warm, the number of Americans who are ready to date is on the rise: A Morning Consult survey for the week ending April 25 found that 53 percent of adults feel “comfortable” dating right now, up 9 percent from the last week in March (although women still feel less comfortable than men). Everyone from Andrew Yang to the bidet company Tushy — which is maintaining a herd-immunity countdown clock at CanIEatAssYet.com — are building anticipation for a hedonistic release of pent-up sexual energy. “Hot vax summer is coming,” Insider proclaimed in March. “NYC singles ready for ‘slutty summer’ of casual sex,” screamed the New York Post. Clearly, many are ready to throw themselves back into the social melee. “Touch starvation” is real, and it can increase stress, depression, and anxiety. But after a year of such intense isolation, fear, suffering, and grief — and as the pandemic continues to rage across many parts of the world — the answer to how people will try to make up for lost time and lost touch is more complex than the orgiastic fantasy hawked by Suitsupply. According to psychologist Amanda Gesselman, associate director for research at Indiana University’s Kinsey Institute, the pandemic has motivated American singles to look for partners rather than casual sex. While “there will [certainly] be people having the time of their lives” when it’s safe to do so, Gesselman says, “we actually found that people are less interested in no-strings-attached sex than they used to be.” In a recent Kinsey Institute study on post-pandemic sex (conducted in partnership with Cosmopolitan and Esquire), which surveyed 2,000 Americans between the ages of 18 and 45, more than half — 52 percent — of singles said they want to find a committed relationship post-pandemic, while about only one in 10 said they’re looking for no-strings-attached sex. “That was a bit lower than we expected, considering everyone’s locked up and has been for a year,” Gesselman says. That said, as most people have spent more than a year worrying about infection and thinking about how to protect themselves from germs, she reasons the mindset “might be extending to sex with unfamiliar partners.” “We actually found that people are less interested in no-strings-attached sex than they used to be” Ilana Dunn, co-host of the dating podcast Seeing Other People, says she’s been hearing similar feedback from listeners and friends. “Everyone’s like, ‘Yeah, of course, I’m going to get really drunk and go wild for like, a week. Because we need to do that. But my goal is to find someone.’” In an Instagram poll that received more than 1,000 responses, Dunn says she was surprised to see 88 percent say that as people get vaccinated and the world opens up, they feel more inclined to look for something serious, while 52 percent said they’ll be open to hookups once they’re vaccinated. Gesselman believes the pandemic has pushed many people to be more introspective about what they want in their lives, particularly younger adults. “When you’re in your mid-20s and you have your entire future ahead of you, and then you just sat through an entire year of social isolation and halted progress, it really makes you think about the things you want in your life,” she says. “I think a lot of people are thinking more towards what would make their future the best rather than what would be good short-term gratification.” Meanwhile, condom companies are cautiously hopeful demand for their products will continue to grow along with the vaccinated portion of the US population. Male contraceptives saw a 2.5 percent

May 3, 2021 - VOX
How much kissing will happen this summer? | Annette Riedl/picture alliance via Getty ImagesDating podcasters, condom companies, bartenders, and college students weigh in on the horny months to come. “I’m excited to go a bit buck wild and feel so much safer,” says Elena, a recently vaccinated college student. “Just go on a lot of dates, make out with some guys, nothing serious.” The 20-year-old Salt Lake City resident, who asked that her last name be withheld to protect her privacy, is ready to make..