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Couples share how they found matches in the middle of a pandemic - L.A. Focus Newspaper

When coronavirus first hit in March, the freelance production manager paid about $30 for a three-month premium subscription on the dating app Hinge -- and he figured he'd just keep swiping until that ended.

Like many, the 29-year-old used dating apps like Hinge as a way to connect with others, especially since making in-person connections had become nearly impossible with Covid-19 shutdowns. He went on one Facetime date -- the girl, he said, seemed like she was "just going through her matches ... like on a spreadsheet."

But on May 29, he had plans to meet up with a different match -- this time in person. A 28-year-old nurse named Brooke, with whom he would hike Runyon Canyon -- Los Angeles' picturesque, influencer-ridden trail.

It was in the middle of their approximately three-mile hike, when the two decided they felt comfortable enough to remove their face masks, that he knew this was different. Their guards were down, or as he described it, "all caution (regarding coronavirus) was thrown to the wind."

Now, less than one month and many dates later, they split most of their time between his West Hollywood apartment and hers in Long Beach. He's done what many initially considered impossible with social distancing guidelines and stay-at-home orders:

He found love during a global pandemic.

"This is truly two people finding their soulmate during the most unlikely of times," he told CNN in a phone interview. "We're thinking about eloping to Vegas if the chapels open."

While this may sound extreme, many formerly single people -- and dating experts -- say the pandemic has actually helped people find their matches more easily.

"I think people are more likely to find love during this time than not during this time," Yue Xu, co-host of the popular "Dateable" podcast, told CNN in a video call.

"Because we have this dedicated time to find love, there are no distractions -- you're not a bar looking at people around you or looking at your drink. Everyone's more present and they are more conscious about the way they are showing up to these virtual or real-life dates."

Xu and podcast co-host Julie Krafchick, who are based in San Francisco, said they've noticed an overall change for the better in terms of the dating landscape over the past few months.

"Consider this a reset," Xu said. "Even though we're losing magic of that first date -- the first kiss, first touch -- we're forced to think about how we can reinvent dating."

The 'fail fast mentality'

Dating has never been -- and never will be -- perfect. Before the pandemic, Xu and Krafchick answered questions on their podcast such as "Do Millennials even want to find love?" and "Is monogamy dead?"

"We can't have amnesia that dating wasn't perfect before," Krafchick said. "Part of the reason we created the podcast in the first place was to answer the question, 'What the f**k is wrong with modern dating?'"

The biggest challenge for the singles out there before the pandemic, Krafchick said,