By Ellen O’Regan
This past year we swapped dating for distancing, flirting at the bar for flattening the curve, and Valentine’s for quarantines. Lockdown and love are just two worlds that don’t really get along.
I’m not speaking for the couples here, although I’m sure you’ve had your share of challenges throughout the pandemic. Whether you were a fledgeling pair violently thrust into living together with no relief from the outside world, or found yourself suddenly doing long distance down the road from each other, if you’ve survived this long there’s not much that could rumble you.
But this goes out to my fellow singletons. It’s been rough.
When government guidelines on pandemic dating include thorough handwashing before and after sex, “remote sexual activity” and only kissing people in your own household, it really puts a dampener on hopes of a ‘rona romance.
But what have we learned? What drops of wisdom can we draw from this dating drought?
Breakups during lockdown were incredibly lonely, without friends to rally around you or distractions from yourself. But honestly, perhaps it was for the best to be spared the inevitable drunken tears on the shoulders of strangers in the nightclub bathroom, or regrettable phone calls and texts on the way home. Or even more regrettable rebounds. There’s a lot to be said for total disconnect from the world to give yourself time to heal, without the pressure to get back out there before you’re really ready.
An honourable mention has to be a dedication to the admirable few who braved a socially distant dating scene. Getting frostbite holding a takeaway coffee on outdoor walks, rapid restaurant dates in 105 minutes or less, or even zoom wining and dining. As weird as it has been navigating it all, there might just be some upsides. Inevitably, dating has had to be taken slow. People are spending a lot more time talking and actually getting to know each other before going further – straight into the DM’s, no kissing. Having to have the “Covid talk” about where you both stand on meeting in real life is a great way to find out if your values align. Plus, Facetime Tinder dates from the comfort of your own home really alleviate the “this might be a serial killer” jitters.
Then there were those like myself, too paranoid to widen their bubble to anyone new, who pretty much assumed the lifestyle of a celibate hermit. Doomsday pandemic worries wormed their way in and left no room for even a thought of meeting someone. And that’s absolutely fine too. Because you know who we did date this year? Ourselves. A lot of long months remembering what hobbies we used to have, what we like to read, and who we actually are when all the noise of life suddenly stopped. It was a great time to figure out who you are as an individual, without nagging family over Christmas asking where the girlfriend or boyfriend is, or well-meaning friends eager to set you up. A free pass to just be single and not be interrogated about it.
This Valentine’s Day I’ll probably be enjoying a nice date with myself, wiser than ever before thanks to my year of self-reflection and growth. And I’ll probably have a bottle of wine. And then once I’ve got that half-done I’ll definitely be putting on a rom-com. And from there it’s a steep fall from self-righteous singledom and back to serial swiping on Tinder for the night.
Sure look, there’s always next year.