Finding love in New Jersey may seem like a harder task than ever before, given the persistence of a global pandemic that suggests strangers shouldn't get too close to one another and limits public options for those looking to meet.

But according to relationship experts in the Garden State, this is actually a wonderful time to date.

Activity in this area essentially came to a screeching halt toward the end of March, when the coronavirus pandemic prompted residents to lock down, and shuttered dining along with most retail and commercial recreation. With the warmer months and a sense of reopening, though, those itching to find a mate have felt ready to give it a shot — even if it had to be virtually.

"Talking, texting, FaceTime, Zoom calls — such a great way, in my opinion, for people to slow down the process of getting to know each other," said Stacey Rose, of the Rose Relationship Learning Center in Ocean Township.

People are less inclined to "jump into bed," Rose said, as New Jersey continues to mandate strict rules meant to limit the transmission of COVID-19. There's a lot you can't do from six or more feet away.

"And then when they do meet in person, they've kind of already screened out a lot of things that they otherwise would not have screened for in the past, pre-pandemic," Rose said.

And those meeting in person, for the most part, attempt to abide by any rules in place, she said — a walk on the boardwalk while wearing masks, for example. Outdoor dining is an option.

"With all these doors closed to all of us, we had to think outside the box and come up with creative alternatives," Rose said.

Julianne Cantarella, who bills herself as "the original New Jersey matchmaker," has recently seen a huge uptick in demand for her date-coaching and matchmaking business. The first few months of isolation likely made many people realize they wouldn't want to go through this alone again in the future, she said.

Cantarella has started making introductions virtually. She's had clients make dinner separately at their own houses and then have a picnic over Zoom.

"People are very open to different suggestions when they really want to connect with someone," Cantarella said.

Those in the dating pool, she added, should be aware that everyone else is experiencing the same disruption caused by the pandemic.

Cantarella, too, sees dating during a pandemic as a positive — it gives individuals more of a chance to spot red flags their partner may be exhibiting, before they've gotten deeper into the relationship.

"You're falling for them, not the intimacy," she said.

Contact reporter Dino Flammia at dino.flammia@townsquaremedia.com.

Enter your number to get our free mobile app