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BY TIMOTHY BOLGER

Love has gone viral.

The solitude of stay-at-home orders combined with widespread reports of people being more open with their feelings amid the coronavirus pandemic has resulted in a dating boom in recent months.

That’s the word from local relationship experts, who report a flood of people seeking out significant others, despite a host of new dating rules required to maintain social distancing to avoid the spread of COVID-19.

“The whole industry in dating has blown up,” said Maureen Tara Nelson, a relationship coach, professional matchmaker with more than two decades of experience, and CEO of Melville-based MTN Matchmaking. “People were lonely and they are realizing now that they want love and they need love. Especially when they’re isolated and home alone.”

Psychotherapists have similarly reported that patients have proven more open in telehealth sessions during the pandemic, and even Gov. Andrew Cuomo has repeatedly touted the lockdown for fostering more in-depth conversations in his own home.

As it so happens, the governor was recently ranked as the most desirable bachelor in New York in MTN’s annual survey of what women are looking for in a man. His brother, CNN anchor Chris Cuomo, a happily married coronavirus survivor who had to self-quarantine, tied at the top of the most-wanted list.

“Women in quarantine are setting their standards very high, but I think under these stressful circumstances, women want a strong, take-charge kind of guy, like the governor and someone who can live in a basement for three weeks and still look buff,” Nelson says.

While demand is increasing, so are the rules for dating. Nelson, who says her matchmaking service has resulted in more than 1,000 marriages, has been coaching would-be couples on how to make Zoom videoconferencing dates romantic. Men and women who want to see more of each other can later meet in person.

Some rules never changed, such as passing the agency’s background check, financial check, and compatibility and chemistry tests. But as studies have shown that love boosts the immune system, it seems MTN has found a cure for coronavirus.

“We were not meant to be alone,” Nelson says. “People get sick less when they’re in love. Children are happier when they see their parents happy in love.”

This story first appeared on longislandpress.com.

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