When the COVID-19 pandemic struck the world, our top priority was to stay healthy and safe. We wore face masks and gloves at all times. We doused our hands with sanitisers every few minutes. We obsessively cleaned the house. But there’s one thing that we embraced and practised as much as possible: social distancing. And that, right there, is what changed how we date.
We can’t go to bars anymore. Gone are the nights when we would share flirty smiles and, eventually, share phone numbers with alluring strangers. Instead, we see strangers hurrying to finish their shopping so that they could get home, away from the virus and the society at large. With a face mask covering half of their faces, no one smiles at each other.
Casual dating is just not the same anymore. We’ve come to a point where it became a serious health hazard. This is why people are now more inclined to monogamy and stable relationships. Many of us want someone we can trust and who’s not intimate with anyone else. We want someone to buy couches and potted plants with. We want a stable relationship that we end up buying wheelchairs and hoist machines for the elderly when we grew old, wrinkly, and senile together.
So what is it about dating nowadays that made people want monogamy instead? How exactly did COVID-19 change how we date?
Online Dating to the Extremes
Online dating’s been prevalent even before COVID-19 came into the picture. The advent of smartphones paved the way for apps such as Grindr, Tinder, and Bumble. It used algorithms to determine who’s the perfect match for you. You didn’t have to scour the city in search of the perfect girl or guy anymore. No, you could lounge on your couch and swipe your thumb left or right on the screen.
The biggest appeal of online dating is the lack of physical connection at the early stages of dating. It boosted our confidence. But what made it revolutionary is that it still sparked real relationships. There are actual success stories from it. New York Times announced back in 2018 that ninety-three out of the one thousand wedding announcements are from couples that first met online.
But because of COVID-19, online dating became our only option. We’re backed into a corner. This led to some painfully awkward virtual dates. Unstable internet connections could lead to frames freezing in the most awkward moments. It could also lead to choppy audio. How can you whisper sweet nothings to your date when they could barely catch a word you say? Instant mood killer.
It’s a good thing, though, that virtual dating is just an early stage into dating. Once you and your date feel ready, you can meet each other in person.
The COVID-19 Talk
Meeting in person, though, is not as easy anymore. And it’s because of the COVID-19 talk. It’s a new and painful but necessary step in dating. Before you can meet someone you’re seeing, you have to make sure that they’re safe from the disease. So you start asking questions.
Have you gotten tested? Do you have a history of the disease? Are you close to someone who has the disease? These questions all seem familiar. And that’s not good. The COVID-19 talk reminds us of asking someone about their sexual history. It’s necessary, yes. But it can also be an instant mood killer.
Try showing some intimacy with a new partner with six feet between you. It’s pretty impossible, right? But, until you’re sure about the safety of the person you’re seeing, then this is necessary. After all, the most common way of spreading the disease is through close contact and inhaling respiratory droplets from the infected.
This means that kissing is basically off the table. And that’s just tragic. Can sparks fly and butterflies in your tummy flutter because of hand-holding? The answer’s no. Yes, it’s not entirely impossible. But it won’t have the same effect as actual kissing. So forget about movie kisses with dramatic fireworks exploding in the background. It’s for your own safety.
Dating in the time of COVID-19 can be such a pain. It’s not as thrilling as it was before. But, in the end, what we really want is real human connections. We want someone to exchange stories and ideas with. We want someone to spend time with. As social butterflies, we crave the experience of getting to know someone interesting.
Technology is helping us maintain connections with other people. Without it, we’d be in total isolation, and that’s no better. But we all know deep down that it won’t matter how innovative technology can be. Dating is not the same anymore. Perhaps it won’t ever be again.