I’ve always wanted to live in a Jane Austen novel, but this is not what I had in mind. Sitting around all the time, a walk as the only form of entertainment, not being able to get too close to the person you’re dating, and everyone being scandalized by a slight touch of the hand. Just because it was good enough for Elizabeth Bennet, doesn’t mean that I’m satisfied with it. But this is the reality of the world we’re living in, and I’m trying to make the best of it.
Luckily, we live in a world of technology, we have texting and Tinder and Zoom. So, I’ve been doing a lot of online dating, as have my friends. We’ve gone on phone dates, socially distanced dates in the park (in masks of course), and a lot of swiping. But it still isn’t the same as the dating lives we were living in the “before-times.” It’s hard being in this limbo of not knowing when you’ll be able to go out on a “normal” date. Before, when I wasn’t able to actually go out it was because of work or finals or travel, things that had a concrete end date, but now we just have to wait and see what happens. It’s hard to sustain things in a virtual environment when you don’t know when you’ll be able to meet in person.
But along with the negatives, my friends and I have found positives as well. One friend has been happy that there’s less pressure to be dating now–she’s been spending more time on Zoom with friends, instead of worrying about dates. And for those who do want to keep up with “dating,” there have never been more people online to connect with. I’ve spoken with people from all over the world. And even if we’ll never meet in person, it’s nice connecting to people during this very literally and figuratively isolating time.
We’ve all found that conversations go deeper quickly. People are talking about their fears and feelings, we all have some common ground where we can stand and talk. You can also tell a lot about a person from how they’re reacting to the pandemic. Not taking it seriously? This public health student isn’t interested. Spending your time protesting racism and police violence? What a turn-on!
And while I’d rather be meeting in person, there’s something to be said for virtual dates or phone calls. No need to get completely dressed up! Don’t need to take the subway across the city! No more spending exorbitant amounts of money on cocktails that you can just whip up in your kitchen! There’s something relaxed and informal about virtual dating, the pressure is off, and I feel like I can just be myself.
So, until I feel comfortable going out (and who knows when that will be), I’m making do with keeping things virtual or socially distanced. I’ll be the one in the mask and empire waist gown.