Dating Anxiety During the Global COVID-19 Pandemic: Implications for College Students

Taylor M. Dattilo, Rachel S. Fisher, Katherine A. Traino, Caroline M. Roberts, Vicky Lehmann, John M. Chaney, Larry L. Mullins

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Dating anxiety (i.e., anxiety experienced when initiating and/or maintaining a romantic connection) is prevalent in the college student population. Dating anxiety may contribute to psychological distress and diminished life satisfaction and has been found to be associated with depressive symptoms. The COVID-19 pandemic has necessitated preventative strategies that may negatively impact college students’ ability to socialize and thus potentially worsen their mental health. The current study examined whether the relationship between dating anxiety and depressive symptoms was moderated by perceived impact of COVID-19. Participants included college students (N = 225) enrolled at a large Midwestern university and were 18–23 years of age (Mage = 18.95). Participants completed self-report measures of demographics, dating anxiety, perceived impact of COVID-19, and depressive symptoms. Depressive symptoms were significantly associated with dating anxiety, β =.40, 95% CI [.292,.513], and COVID-19 impact, β =.33, 95% CI [.220,.436]. The interaction term (Dating Anxiety 3 COVID-19 Impact) was significant, β =.15, 95% CI [.062,.240], such that the relationship between higher dating anxiety and greater depressive symptoms strengthened as COVID-19 impact increased. Our findings demonstrate that increased dating anxiety is related to increased depressive symptoms, which are worsened by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. College students more strongly impacted by COVID-19 may have increased dating anxiety because of decreased exposure to social situations
Original languageEnglish
JournalTranslational Issues in Psychological Science
Early online date2022
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2022


  • College students
  • Covid-19 pandemic
  • Dating anxiety
  • Depressive symptoms

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