Love In The Time Of COVID

Pandemic or not, dating isn’t easy. 

Movies and shows have made single-and-ready-to-mingle seem like an endless bout of fun, happy times, and funny stories to share over drinks with friends. The reality is it can be really disappointing, draining, and feel like mini breakups at times. 

You have to put yourself out there, give time to people who may or may not be worth it, guess what their intentions are, all the while you do the usual “dance” with each other. You’ve also got a whole host of dating behaviors (as well as the ever growing terminology to describe them): ghosting, zombie-ing, breadcrumbing, benching, haunting, catfishing, gaslighting, roaching, orbiting. It’s dizzying, really.

After a while, it can feel like a drag reciting your spiel over and over. It makes me think of those who work in theater and have to put on the same show every night. Even though they’re probably sick of regurgitating the same lines, they strive to put on a good show because they know it’s a different audience every time. A new set of eyes. A clean slate. 

That’s what we have to remember in dating – the audience is different each time and is unaware of your last performance. Fortunately, in dating, the lines don’t have to remain exactly the same either. We can come up with new ways of sharing things about ourselves, refine our story-telling ability, and play around with the energy we give off. Call it your own little experiment of human dynamics.

The pandemic has added a lot more nuance to this whole dating experience, though.

On top of the usual nerves, now you’ve got people who are recovering from loss, coming out of relationships, or who are in a transition phase in their life. With more jobs being shifted to a remote lifestyle, you can bet people are going to be more nomadic or in the middle of moving. 

During these unruly times, dating apps have been the most viable option of meeting people, which adds an extra layer of complication. This whole fast food dating culture already has our attention spans trending toward being minimal. Now, with pandemic fatigue at play, this translates into an even narrower window of time to spark one’s interest, otherwise BAM, it’s onto the next person. 

Maybe our intuition within the first few exchanges is correct and helps us find the right person more quickly to some extent. While having access to a wider pool of people is certainly convenient, I fear this whole what’s next? mentality is bringing us to a place of not giving enough attention to the few good catches that pop up. With all the “noise” you get on these apps, every time there’s a “hit”, you’ll constantly think someone better is still out there, and never really dive as deeply into said hit. Hence, the knee-jerk reaction people have to endlessly swipe. This endless abundance of options and the paradox of choice is a general issue with modern times, but that’s a topic of discussion for another day.

One silver lining with dating during the pandemic is that it has forced us to be more creative with date ideas. As we repeatedly see surges in cases, certain options and venues become less safe, which forces us to think outside of the box and expand our definitions of what a date can be. You can go stargazing, have a picnic on a cliff that overlooks the ocean, go to the zoo, go to outdoor Classical music concerts, go on a hike, do an online Escape Room, or visit spots that are meaningful to you. Even a walk through a scenic park can suffice for a first date and is probably less awkward than staring at each other across a dinner table for 2 hours anyway.

Life has been rough the last year and a half and I think a lot of us are still healing or processing all of this change. Let’s be kinder to one another. Let’s minimize the games and be upfront with what we want. Let’s be more mindful of each other’s time and feelings.