When we first went into lockdown, I thought we’d all come bursting out of it with nothing short of complete debauchery. Flash forward five months and I’m just happy if someone feels comfortable to hold my hand. Dating during a pandemic is truly uncharted territory and not something I expected to enjoy so much. Turns out, no-contact park dates are pretty lovely. Here’s how Coronavirus may have changed dating for the better.
Many people have gone months without a hug, let alone sex. Others have bombed quite spectacularly out of a relationship during lockdown. A lucky few have experienced both. Either way, there’s noticeably more people looking for someone new on dating apps now. With talk of a second-wave coming, most are trying to make hay while the sun is literally shining. In terms of numbers, it’s a great time for swiping.
Our quieter lives also mean no one is really THAT busy anymore. Thankfully, this has put an end to booking in first dates a month in advance as you struggle with your combined social schedules. The sad lack of summer holiday plans and festivals this season means we’re not doing much this year beyond getting tipsy in the park with friends. Plus, many of us are furloughed or jobless, which is depressing but does have one silver lining: our schedules are wide open. Planning a date is easier than ever.
Recently, I asked a woman I’d been chatting with on Tinder if she’d like to hang out. Instead, she suggested we try a Zoom call first. Seeing as we live on opposite sides of London (which is effectively in different cities), this made a lot of sense. The effort it would take for us to meet up without using public transport is significant, so a video call was a great way to see if we wanted to make that effort.
The first couple of minutes were a bit awkward, as we stumbled through the usual clumsy first date questions while checking each other out in real-time. However, once we started chatting (and flirting), we didn’t stop once for the next hour. By the end of the Zoom session, we were very enthusiastic about meeting up. Dating during a pandemic has made a video call suddenly become an easy way to scope out a potential partner. Think of all those bad first dates that could be avoided if this became the norm?
Parks, not pubs
Going for a long walk has always been my preferred way to spend a first date. Chatting while wandering, sneaking little sideways glances, stumbling upon something interesting, checking the other person out while they aren’t watching… it’s a lovely way to get to know someone new. If you manage to end up sitting by a river or in a park watching the sunset, then it can be especially magical.
How is an outdoor date not superior to a pub (when it isn’t raining, that is)? Sitting opposite each other, with nothing else to focus on but your awkward exchange of questions and stories, slowly starting to slur your words by your third G&T (or is that just me). Pub dates really aren’t that great. Of course, we’ve had a joyously sunny spring and summer here in the UK, which has made outdoor, social distancing dates quite enjoyable. However, I’m looking forward to long walks on chilly days too (check back in with me in January to see if I’m still so keen on outdoor hangouts then).
No-contact first dates
As a rule, first dates are now no-contact. This is something I thought I would hate (who doesn’t love a swoony first date kiss) but in fact, I quite like it. It gives dates a zero-pressure vibe, with little chance of someone launching at you for a non-consensual snog at the end. Plus, it means you have to discuss this first. What are they comfortable with? What’s your preferred form of greeting? Mine’s an ankle tap if you’re wondering.
Transparency is vital
Being upfront about who you’re seeing is always a healthy way to approach dating, but the reality is that not everyone is straightforward. Being polyamorous means I’m not only accustomed to talking about my other partners but very comfortable having these conversations. However, when it comes to monogamous dating, sometimes people will hide the fact that they’re seeing others.
Dating during a pandemic means transparency is essential. Are you hugging your family and friends? Are you sleeping with other people? Do they know you’re having contact with others? Are any of these people symptomatic or shielding? These are really important conversations to have with anyone you come into contact with, especially anyone you may want to be intimate with. While you’re at it, discuss when your last STI test was because you need to get comfortable with talking about this too.
Taking it slow
Our lives have slowed down considerably during 2020. Finding love during a pandemic is no different. The need to talk transparently about contact and getting to know each other at a distance has really changed the way we meet someone new. I’m really enjoying being friends first, especially because there’s a legitimate chance of still being buddies if you don’t want a second date. In the ever-shifting landscape of Covid-19, it’s hard to know what things will be like next month. So what’s the rush? Take it slow. Savour the start of your new relationship. Life could stay like this for some time.