With the challenges of the pandemic, finding meaningful connections may feel impossible. But one challenger stepped up to give UMW students a shot at love, new friends, or at the very least, an opportunity to go on an enjoyable Valentine’s Day date.
This matchmaker is the (non-affiliated) UMW Missed Connections @umwmissedconnections Instagram account. On Saturday, Feb. 12 the account posted an announcement for “UMW Missed Connections: Blind Dates,” where students could meet up with other eligible singles for a blind date on Valentine’s Day. There were also options for making new friends.
“I get people messaging me all the time saying that they want to make connections so I did the ‘making connections event’ twice earlier in the fall…but this was different because I was facilitating,” said the person behind the UMW Missed Connections account, who chose to remain anonymous. They got the idea from a shared group chat with other missed connections accounts at universities across the country. “Somebody brought up the idea of doing blind dates and I thought that was amazing and I wanted to do that too.”
All students had to do was fill out a short form asking dating preferences, background information and a review from a friend. A few days later they received their match over Instagram.
Many students took full advantage of this opportunity. Over 90 applicants signed up for the blind date experience, and soon enough they were sent their matches along with safe date ideas, including classics like Vocelli’s and walks in downtown Fredericksburg. CDC guidelines for social distancing were included as well for a worry free and safe Valentine’s Day.
This was a big turn out for UMW Missed Connections, who expected only around fifty applicants. It was a challenge that took nearly three hours to decide on the pairs, but they found that participants took the questionnaire seriously and were very genuine in their answers.
UMW Missed Connections thought that the high turnout and sincere responses were “a reflection of not being able to do normal interactions where you meet a significant other or a friend.”
The blind dating event itself was not limited to meeting romantic interests and an option for a platonic meetup was offered as well. UMW students took advantage of both options, and during this event, half of the people that signed up were looking for friends while the other half were looking for a romantic partner.
UMW Missed Connections said that people looking for a range of connections, from the explicitly romantic to general camaraderie, is part of a broader trend beyond this event. Last spring, UMW Missed Connections received more romantic-specific submissions, where people messaged the account hoping to connect with someone attractive in a class or around campus. Now, UMW Missed Connections receives a lot more submissions that consist of giving a shout out to a person that made their day great.
“People are messaging me all the time which I think is interesting, it’s almost a safe space in my DMs to vent,” they said. “I’ve had a lot of people messaging me saying ‘I want to find friends’ and ‘I want to find a roommate.’”
UMW Missed Connections is embracing this change. “I’ve definitely seen a difference and in response to that I’ve had fun making my account a way to connect people.” Their account has become a platform for people to more broadly come together during the pandemic.
It seems that applicants are using this event, and the UMW Missed Connections platform more broadly, to overcome the pandemic we’re living in and make new meaningful connections in the UMW community.
If you missed this event you can check out UMW Missed Connections’ Instagram page. Its bio currently reads “See a cutie in the UC? Sitting next to you in Psychology? DM us to be featured!” Students can send a direct message to the instagram account when they see someone on campus but don’t have the opportunity to speak to them directly. If a student who’s featured on the page sees that someone is interested in them there is even the opportunity for them to meet up.
Despite a global pandemic, UMW Missed Connections continues to provide a safe space for students to pay each compliments, meet new Eagles and spread positivity across the UMW community.
If you’re interested in seeing how the event went, participants were encouraged to send in pictures from their blind dates and you can find these, future events and merchandise (proceeds go to the Trevor Project) at UMW Missed Connections on instagram @umissedconnections.