Dating in a pandemic

So here I am, just days into 2021, and I’ve already slept with two people (both were covid tested as was I) and I’m going on a socially distanced date on Sunday afternoon, and I’m wondering exactly why I do this? And yes, I am singing to All By Myself because I have binged watched Bridget Jones and wondered when my female Daniel Cleaver or a good old Darcy with fewer narcissistic issues would come along and sweep me off my feet.

I always have something on the go. I cannot figure out if I like it or I just do it to fill some hole. So putting it into perspective, are we just dating needlessly over lockdown to fill a hole because covid has taken the choice from us to go out and meet people in bars and so on? Or are we doing it to genuinely find a connection? 

I’m getting bored with the intensity of a covid relationship/situationship (something I’ve consistently found myself in). It’s so much better when you connect with someone, but without the commitment. I will of course refer to the second person who I’ve slept with, a close friend of mine for over ten years, and you know what it just worked. The sex was so good, it didn’t need any awkward “oh, not that” or “not there” and I suppose in some ways it was great, because our friendship had gotten us so comfortable that we just understand each other, and that is that. 

Has covid in some odd way with the string of fuck-ups, freed me from the constraints of feeling like I need a relationship to just being able to connect through sex and have nothing more than that? Have I become a toxic person because of being afraid of much intensity too quickly because of Covid? It’s something that is all too common now. People have entered into support bubbles without really considering the consequences and the difficulties that come with learning a person sexually but not emotionally. Is this the blueprint for a successful relationship through lockdown? The time old sequence of dating, not sleeping with them for a long time and actually getting to know them? Is emotional intuitiveness the secret for a successful lockdown dating?

I figured that a good place to start was speaking to a person almost every day, the video calls, late-night voice notes, engagement in each other’s socials and so on. This was replacing the need to see them in person. However, when we chose to be in each other’s support bubbles we lacked the ability to connect, emotionally, intellectually and sexually.

It was empty, robotic and awkward in every aspect of the situationship. When we slept together the first time, I had to fake because I didn’t want to hurt her feelings, and I knew somewhere in there that this wasn’t right. But she was so forceful with her personality, and so I went with it. This bright new thing would distract me from the pain I felt from my previous ex. And so for a short while it appeared it was working but, the longer it went on the more that I realised that I didn’t want her or this, she was cold, unaffectionate, and I realised that neither one of us understood the other even though we had spent such an intense short amount of time together. I now realise that dating is hard in lockdown because when you don’t spend time together physically whilst building the foundations of a relationship, or in fact any that you might have, we as people need to be physically in each other’s company to pick up on the nuances of language through the body or words. So much of whom we are can not possibly be communicated through a video call, or phone call or a selfie you send. 

Dating in lockdown is near on impossible, things have been sped up, rushed and you realise you don’t really know the person that you’re sleeping with. So many relationships that have started in lockdown have all but ended up failing, the sequence of ‘when to do things’ is all out of order. Most of my girlfriends have slept with a person and then gone on a date with them, and bizarrely it does not work. The whole try before you buy I think leans into too much familiarity far too quickly, and then the impending end is nigh. I certainly don’t mean to say that all relationships are like this, I know of some people who have said it’s been great and they met the love of their lives, but you know we’re still in lockdown, so let’s see how that goes. 

All I can advise is taking your time, do not rush into anything, see it as a good thing that you can’t see each in person and use the space to understand each other better, and lay clear boundaries down before you eventually see each other in person. 

Here’s hoping that in the next few months I’ll make some better choices with all the red flags that keep finding their way to me and want to lock me down in a relationship. We can hope…

Jordan Paunova Artist/Writer