For Los Angeles singles, ‘Are you vaccinated?’ is the new ‘Who did you vote for?’
In April, Paige Guritzky matched with a guy on a dating app who, like her, lives in Los Angeles but grew up in New Jersey.
After weeks of texting almost exclusively about their home state, he asked her out for drinks to celebrate Memorial Day weekend (a big deal in Jersey) and her birthday. Things went well until vaccines came up: She was vaccinated; he was not.
“I straight up told him to his face that if I knew that he was not vaccinated, I would not be there that day,” said Guritzky, 34, who works in the entertainment industry.
Mask selfies and “I’ve got antibodies” statements were ubiquitous on dating app profiles this spring. But as Hot Vax Summer begins in earnest for singles, asking a match’s vaccine status is the catchall question for gauging compatibility and assessing someone’s worldview.
(In California most people who want the vaccine have had at least one shot. In Los Angeles County, as of Tuesday, 58.2% of residents are at least partially immunized.)
Dating forces people to make quick judgments about strangers based on scraps of information and blink-and-you’ll-miss-them red flags — perhaps an uncomfortable text or a rude comment to a server — while the other person does the same. In interviews, people said a potential match’s thoughts about vaccines may indicate how deeply they understand the pandemic, how empathetic they are, whether they believe in science and what their political beliefs are.
After scooting her chair back, Guritzky asked her date whom he voted for. “He said that he doesn’t like talking about politics,” she said. There was no second date.
The connection between vaccines and political affiliation is supported by data. A June CBS-YouGov survey found that 30% of people who voted for President Trump in 2020 don’t plan on getting vaccinated, compared with 2% of people who voted for Biden.
Even if most (51% according to the CBS-YouGov survey) Trump supporters say they are vaccinated, people assume there’s a connection between politics and vaccine status.
Maria Avgitidis, chief executive of matchmaking company Agape Match, posted a survey in her Instagram stories in May asking her thousands of followers — mostly single women between the ages of 18 and 45 — if they would publicly share their vaccine status, if they would filter for vaccine status, if they would lie about getting vaccinated to increase the chances for more matches, and if they thought a person’s vaccine status reflected their political beliefs. On politics, 66% of respondents said yes, they did see a connection.
Asking a match what they think about vaccines is “a really easy way to learn about someone’s values,” she said.
“It’s about learning ‘OK, if we had kids, are we going to get the MMR [measles, mumps and rubella] vaccine, or are you telling me we’re not doing that?’” she said. “It might be about politics; it might also be about your future if you want to have kids with this person.”
Major dating apps such as Tinder, Hinge and Bumble have introduced badges, stickers and filters people can add to their profiles as part of a White House campaign to use social media to encourage vaccination.
Actor Agnieszka Marchel, 31, said she doesn’t understand why someone who’s unvaccinated would want to meet her when her profile clearly states that she’s vaccinated.
Thanks to therapy, to the pandemic, to stillness, to time and unbearable loneliness, I am looking back on all the people that have entered my life over the years as gifts.
She plans on asking her dates for proof that they are too. “I think it’s important to ... be level-headed about it and just be open and [say], ‘I need to see your vaccination card.’”
Bharat V., a 24-year-old food entrepreneur who lives in Silver Lake, said his profile doesn’t state that he’s vaccinated. He doesn’t care whether his dates are, and he doesn’t ask.
“It’s a leap of faith no matter what, right?” he said. “Dating is exciting because it’s spontaneous and you don’t really know what’s going to happen.”
Gus R., who works in aviation, said it’s tacky to put one’s vaccine status on a profile. The 33-year-old is not vaccinated.
“I felt like ‘Man, do I need to put if I’m vaccinated or not?’” he said. “It just kind of creates this judgmental vibe having to answer that question.”
Gus said he isn’t an anti-vaxxer, voted for Biden, doesn’t care whether his matches are vaccinated and doesn’t ask. He plans to wait a year and reevaluate his stance on the vaccine. Until then, he’s swiping left on women whose profiles say they’re vaccinated.
“I feel like it’s going to be an issue that I’m not,” he said.
In some cases, “Are you vaccinated?” can be the beginning of a longer conversation. Kellian Murphy, a 41-year-old veterinary assistant, said her concerns about getting vaccinated were alleviated after she did more research.
How has COVID-19 shaped my dating landscape? For the better. And with the pressure to meet off the table, I gave myself full permission to be me. The conversations have flowed. They’ve been engaging, meaningful and playfully inappropriate.
She understands the vaccine is a personal choice. If a potential match said he isn’t vaccinated, she’d ask why and perhaps share what she’s learned. But she’d still rule out people who believe the vaccine is a conspiracy theory.
“If they had in their bio ‘anti-vaxxer’ or something that sent a red flag about not being vaccinated ... I wouldn’t bother,” she said.
Some vaccinated people don’t mention it in their app profiles because it’s too personal, like announcing the results of your latest sexually transmitted infection test. As with sexual health, there’s an expectation that you must be honest with a potential partner so they can make an informed decision about their health.
Chrysta Wilson, a racial equity consultant, described an interaction with one match who, after she asked whether he was vaccinated, said he was “healthy.”
“And I said, ‘Oh, that’s cool. Me too. Are you vaccinated?’” she said in an interview. He said he didn’t feel the need to because he hadn’t gotten COVID-19 and had a strong immune system.
For her, the conversation said a lot about their future compatibility and eliminated weeks of texting, FaceTiming, and coordinating schedules and dinner dates.
“When you get to be my age — and I’m 41 — there’s a deep sense of clarity about what it is that’s going to make a compatible match,” she said. “What’s the criteria on which you make choices? And what do you value? And where do you put your energy? And what are the battles that you choose to fight?”
One battle Wilson isn’t willing to engage in: debating vaccine safety with men on dating apps.
“In my line of work I do interface with people who get a lot of talking points from anti-science media sources,” she said. “I just don’t have the energy and patience to deal with that in my personal life.”
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