We've all learned this year how sick a virus can make us, but there's another national epidemic that's on the rise, loneliness.
- I am lonely.
- I never expected to be stuck inside by myself.
- The first thing I thought was, oh my God, does this mean I'm gonna be single until 2021?
(gentle music) (playful music) - Isolation can be very dangerous.
Some studies have shown being alone and isolated can be as bad for your health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.
- And with people socially distancing because of the pandemic, there's a risk that people could become more isolated than ever before.
- Virtual dating has become the new norm.
It has also been a challenge for me.
- I miss strangers.
I miss communicating nonverbally with people.
- When this is over, I am going to run up to people and kiss them full on the mouth.
- [Danielle] But somehow people are still falling in love.
- It is my privilege for the first time Mr. and Mrs. Bloom.
- Well said, congratulations.
- But it takes a lot of work to stay connected even if you're in a relationship because you can still feel isolated even when you're sitting next to another person.
- We're always together unfortunately.
Even though we're in the same physical space, I don't think we're mentally in sync always.
Not only is it stressful with work, it's the world.
- This is now my marital therapy hour.
We're two ships passing in the sea and- - Passing in the night?
- Passing in the night, whatever.
Yes, there we go.
(laughs) - [Shan] We talked with sexologist Shan Boodram.
to see what tips she had for couples going through lockdown themselves as well as people looking to date.
- OK, well.
Grace and space has been mine and my husband's go-to words.
Don't have that face.
You know, I turned the camera on to praise you.
The pandemic massively changed our relationship, but mostly because I got pregnant February.
That really heightened the anxiety.
This is 11 weeks.
This time is unprecedented.
- [Jared] Happy apocalypse day, everyone.
- So you're gonna see sides of your partner that they themselves may be surprised of.
Try to impart some level of empathy, love, or provide them with a different coping strategy because oftentimes people don't really necessarily know how to be or do better.
At the end of the day, we can't stop a pandemic.
You can't change that.
But what you can do is change your strategy and your attitude.
- If you're currently single, you're not alone.
Half of American adults are too.
But living through this pandemic doesn't mean you can't meet someone new.
No pressure, though.
- We found two average guys who became unconventional matchmakers in the peak of the pandemic in New York City.
(doorbell rings) - Welcome to our Bushwick apartment.
As two New Yorkers, we're always used to that hustle and grind.
Typically we're never actually home- - Yeah, not a lot.
So we're going a little stir crazy when the universe told us to stop.
- [Danielle] Stuck at home, they were spending more time together than ever before.
- We didn't go anywhere.
We didn't see anybody.
It was literally me and Thi for 24 hours.
Roommates that cook together.
- Are roommates.
- [Ali] Their careers were on pause and so were their love lives.
- [Thi] We have a lot of save the dates, and it's just a constant reminder of how lonely I am.
- [Rance] This is not where the magic happens.
- [Danielle] So they turned to another source of comfort, reality TV.
- [Host] Here, you will choose someone to marry without ever seeing them.
- We watched Love is Blind very, very quickly.
- Two days.
- We loved it.
They allow people to get to know each other before making any type of physical judgment.
- I thought that was really, really cool and really, really special.
I have achondroplasia, which is the most common form of dwarfism.
This is my Supreme step ladder, my pride and joy.
A lot of times I don't actually get the opportunity to go on the date.
- [Thi] That is the reason why Love is Quarantine kind of started.
- [Ali] Love is Quarantine is an Instagram-based blind dating show that Thi and Rance came up with despite their lack of credentials.
- [Thi] You know, we're just two random shman-dom guys.
We're not love experts.
We're not dating show hosts.
- We're just trying to set people up on the shoe-iest of shoestring budgets.
We put it on our Instagram stories and told our friends.
Check out the link in my bio and put in your information.
Overnight, we had about 5,000 Instagram followers.
By the end of the first week, we had 15 K. - We're doing the thing.
- We're doing the thing!
- [Danielle] Singles could submit a video and check out other submissions all on Instagram.
- [Rance] This is how people watch the show, by just scrolling down the timeline.
- [Thi] That's it.
- [Rance] Pick the video and read the captions.
- [Danielle] And this was all without seeing their potential date's face.
- [Woman] I am a 26-year-old single mom.
- [Woman] My hair's like really not looking that cute, but- - [Ronald] I'm Ronald.
- [Anna] My name is Anna.
♪ Think I'm falling in love ♪ - [Ali] Thi and Rance would match people up.
- [Rance] T minus two and a half hours.
We're gonna go on some dates.
- [Ali] in the hopes of making the love connection.
- Three dates, and you're gonna pick up the phone.
No texting, no FaceTiming, throwback.
- This year, people have prioritized emotional intimacy more than ever.
Connection is about knowing that somebody else has your back and someone else cares.
Physical connection isn't the only possible way to get your fix.
- [Rance] I think Steve and Katie were our first match.
- [Katie] We also agreed we'd go on date number two, so I'm excited to see what that entails.
- Oh, whoa!
- [Thi] We believe in love.
- [Rance] We did it!
- [Thi] We were screaming, we were crying.
We were laughing.
- [Rance] Thi, baby.
- Let's go!
- [Rance] You ready for some dates tonight?
- [Thi] We just felt like, oh, this is working.
People are actually connecting during quarantine.
- [Danielle] Soon word got out, and Love is Quarantine was everywhere.
- A new project on Instagram stirring up the dating scene while people are stuck at home.
- [Thi] After that, it was like Washington Post, Forbes, - New York Times.
- You guys are literally taking the nation by storm.
- Love is Quarantine, you are killing me.
Another amazing date.
- I am pumped just to be able to be here.
- [Thi] So far, there's at least one serious relationship that's come out of the show.
- I found out about Love is Quarantine from a friend.
- I didn't know what I signing up for.
I had never heard of it before.
- He was hilarious.
- Yeah, it was just easy.
And when her and I are together, it's just easy.
- [Allee] We went really deep, really fast.
- [Danielle] Even though Allee is in California, and Justin's in North Carolina, they felt like pandemic or not, they needed to meet with in person.
- She flew into Charlotte.
We had a 12-day-long first date and have now been dating for about two months.
We made it!
- [Allee] Every time I'm with him, I just feel closer to heaven.
- Absolutely love her.
- Of all the crazy things to happen in 2020, this is definitely one I'm glad is on the list.
Justin, I love you.
- Allee, I love you.
- Did you find love, Rance?
- I mean, there was a little something, something.
- Yeah, I mean, grateful for the opportunity to go on some dates.
- He's hurt.
No, I'm kidding.
- No, no, no, I mean, at the end of the day, it's cool being able to connect to other people.
- [Woman] Like, he's actually pretty cool.
- [Rance] Pre-pandemic, post-pandemic, in the pandemic, people want love.
- [Man] Old-fashioned, has a great laugh, a very nice personality.
- [Rance] That'll never go away.
- It is hard because, again, nobody has ever done this before.
But really be deliberate about finding other ways to still stay connected, and I promise you, it won't feel quite as heavy and lonely.
- [Woman] PBS American Portrait is, - A platform where, - People can go to in order to share their experiences.
- So join in.
- Go to pbs, - .org, - /americanportrait.
- Not to like, you know, make a silver lining of something so terrible, but I have seen more people, oh my God, look at this bird.
He just flew right there.
(object clangs) We lived here for two years, have never had birds fly in the house during the pandemic.
Three birds have flown in.
So I think that they're lonely too.