NEWS

Every Relationship Has Deal Breakers. Is Vaccination Status One of Them?

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Key Takeaways

  • A recent survey by The Balance found that most young people don't consider COVID-19 vaccination status a dealbreaker in dating.
  • Even so, experts recommend having open conversations with your date about their vaccination status to stay informed.


COVID-19 vaccination status can make or break someone’s decision to go out to dinner, back to work, or attend an in-person workout class. But when it comes to love and relationships, vaccination status may not matter at all.

In a recent “Cuffing Season” survey by The Balance, more than half of respondents ages 18 to 40 said they didn’t consider vaccination status a dealbreaker when choosing whether or not to pursue a relationship. One in five people surveyed affirmed that they would go on a date with someone who was unvaccinated, and 37% said “it depends.” The factors it depends on, however, were not specified.

Only 37% of respondents considered vaccination status an important factor when dating, with 46% saying it was slightly important or less, and 30% saying vaccination status was not an important dating consideration at all.

Looking At The Numbers

The Cuffing Season Survey consisted of 1,000 respondents who were dating or seeking relationships. Slightly more than 50% of respondents were women, and slightly less than 50% were men, and 82% were heterosexual. No survey respondents identified as nonbinary or a self-identified gender.

Calling the Shots On Dating Apps

Some dating apps, like Tinder, have been participating in a vaccination initiative with the White House since May, where they let users share their vaccination status on their profile. Users who choose to display their vaccination can also access premium features of the apps that others cannot. 

The initiative served to guide user’s decisions about how much COVID-19 risk they want to take while dating and, potentially, encourage young people to get vaccinated. Some health experts also predicted that unvaccinated suitors might feel incentivized to get a shot to increase their chances of landing a date. But as this survey points out, that might not be as enticing as predicted.

Still, survey respondents who were vaccinated were more likely to consider a date’s vaccination status important than those who were not vaccinated. Of vaccinated respondents, 58% said that getting the shot was important consideration for dating, whereas of unvaccinated respondents, only 9% said the same.

Talking It Through And Testing It Out

Having open conversations with your date or partner about their vaccination status is a good idea even if the topic isn’t a dealbreaker, Monique White-Dominguez, lead physician at Sameday Health, told Verywell in an email.

“For many people, vaccination is one important aspect in optimization of our personal health and wellness journey as we battle the unknown with the COVID-19 pandemic,” White-Dominguez said. “The key here is optimizing our own personal health journey.” 

When meeting someone on a date for the first time, she recommends taking a COVID-19 test.

“Knowledge is power, if you test then you know,” she said.

3 Words, 12 Letters: Are You Vaxxed?

Asking your crush about their vaccination status might not be the sexiest way to ask them on a date, but it can’t be worse than potentially catching COVID from them.

Slowly opening the lines of communication by being upfront about your own vaccination status and what you want to know from the other person can be a good place to start. 

“Getting the conversation started around the topic may seem difficult at first but getting on the same page regarding big issues like vaccination is an important step in the right direction,” White-Dominguez said. “Start slow and go easy.”

People in more serious relationships, or already cuffed, should also make an effort to discuss vaccination status, she added. But they might want to go about this in different ways.

For partners who have different views toward vaccines, a pros and cons list can help start a healthy dialogue, White-Dominguez said. Taking time to listen to your partner’s perspective is important, especially if you’ve been together for a long time, she added.

“There is no right or wrong answer,” White-Dominguez said. “Honesty could be the best policy, and figuring out an action plan if the two partners cannot agree.”

COVID-19 Risk May Vary Based on Dating Frequency

People who go on dates frequently appear more likely to consider their partner’s vaccination status than people who go on dates less often, according to the survey.

More than half of respondents who went on dates at least once a week said vaccination was important when selecting a date, whereas about a third of those who dated once a month or less said the same.

This could be a good sign, as people who go on frequent dates, especially if they see different people, are likely more at risk of COVID-19 transmission, White-Dominguez said.

“In my opinion, it is more important to check in regarding someone's vaccination status when you're going on multiple dates meeting multiple new people in a short period of time,” she added. “That in of itself leads to more risk and dealing with mostly unvaccinated dates can lead to acquiring acute COVID-19 infection or worse, re-infection with COVID-19.”

Getting vaccinated is an individual choice, she added, but intimacy is too. Close contact increases the risk of COVID-19 transmission drastically.

"The new partner may decide not to get intimate with an unvaccinated significant other because it increases their risk of potentially acquiring COVID-19 and the sequelae that follows after acute COVID-19 infection, not to mention the risk of having long COVID,” White-Dominguez said.

Of course, it’s also important to recognize that intimacy is always a personal choice. Even if you and your date are vaccinated, you don’t have to consent to sex or agree to go on a second date.

Regardless of vaccination status, it’s a good idea to practice a variety of health safety measures while dating or socializing in general. Wearing masks in indoor public spaces or choosing a date in an outdoor setting can reduce transmission risk.

What This Means For You

Dating can pose risks for COVID-19, especially if you or your partner are unvaccinated. While most young people say COVID-19 vaccination status doesn't influence their dating choices, it's still a good idea to talk openly with your date about COVID-19 risks and how to best stay safe when you are together.

Methodology

The Balance conducted a survey among 1,000 Americans ages 18-40 who are currently dating/seeking partners from October 28 to November 8, 2021. The survey was fielded online via self-administered questionnaire to an opt-in panel of respondents from a market research vendor.  Quotas were used to ensure national representation for the A18-40 group for gender, region, and race/ethnicity using U.S. Census (2019 ACS) estimates as a benchmark, and for sexuality using Gallup estimates (2020) as a benchmark.

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  1. The Balance. The Balance Cuffing Season Survey. November 2021