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How to fall in love during a pandemic: Two Seattle love stories

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“Neither of us wanted to date during a pandemic,” said Seattle’s Regina Aletto.

Aletto matched with her now-girlfriend Rachel on a dating app in 2018, but they never went out on a date. They matched twice more in 2019, never met, but started following each other on Instagram.

“But it wasn’t until [the pandemic] happened and I was spinning out of control with fear. I was posting a lot of stuff in February about it, and I guess my spiraling attracted her because she started commenting on it,” Aletto laughed.

The two started messaging and eventually had four virtual dates, totaling 30 hours, before meeting in person.

“We came up with a fun game of showing each other stuff in our apartments to kind of get to know each other better,” Aletto said. “Then the third date she bought me dinner, so it got delivered to me. We had dinner together, which was cute.”

When they finally met, they both wore masks.

“The first date we met, we didn’t feel comfortable and safe kissing so we held hands and then Purell’d!”

Celene Ramadan, front woman for the Seattle band Prom Queen, was being equally cautious.

“I’m not really an app person, the online thing has always kind of freaked me out,” Ramadan said. “But I realized that being alone during this pandemic was extremely isolating. I think going on the apps, I was looking for somebody who I could really trust. I wasn’t looking for something casual because it just didn’t seem like a casual time.”

‘Skin hunger’ has single, solo dwellers seeking out human touch during the pandemic

Ramadan met Jordan Pope on an app, and they’ve been dating since June. But it’s been a much different courtship. Pope has never seen Ramadan perform, something she did frequently, and they haven’t met many of each other’s friends.

“But I really enjoy getting to know each other in this way; being alone and really communicating,” Ramadan said. “I think that sometimes the busyness of life can slow that process down a lot, and I think it’s been really awesome to have this time to get to know each other in a really concentrated way and find fun ways to entertain ourselves.”

These new couples haven’t experienced the little things people take for granted when they’re dating: having a drink at a bar, meeting each other’s friends in person, and seeing how your partner interacts with strangers.

“I really want to see her out and dancing because I know she’s really fun and I haven’t gotten to see that,” Aletto said.

But both couples feel like pandemic-formed relationships have a certain strength.

“You know really quickly whether or not you’re interested in someone because right now you’re not going to fake it with somebody,” Aletto said. “I like knowing that she’s someone that’s adaptable and resilient. We have so much fun just the two of us hanging out together. We have created fun out of nothing. I built a patio in the back of my truck to take her on a date, she turned her apartment into a restaurant — that’s stuff we would have never done.”

“It’s just such a stark contrast to everything that was happening last year, to find someone who I fell so in love with and feel so connected to,” Ramadan said. “It’s weird to look back at 2020 as the beginning of something really beautiful, but that is the story and I like that. I can’t write the whole year off. I like that something really wonderful and positive came out of that time. We fell in love in a hopeless place.”

Listen to Rachel Belle’s James Beard Award nominated podcast, “Your Last Meal,” featuring celebrities like Death Cab For Cutie’s Ben Gibbard, Rainn Wilson, and Greta Gerwig. Follow @yourlastmealpodcast on Instagram!

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