Life under quarantine has been… an adjustment. Working from home is no longer just an excuse to book afternoon haircuts and manicures, eating and drinking occur at all hours of every day, weekends are a social construct filled with even more boredom than the work week, and bras are finally a thing of the past. But as a single woman who treats dating like a competitive sport and sex like an essential business, the biggest adjustment has been getting used to the new dating norms. Norms that can pretty much be summed up by this scene from the Emperor’s New Groove:
And surprisingly, I don’t hate it. Sure, I’d kill for even a sh*tty first date right now that included a passing thigh touch or a graze of the fingertips as I pretended to reach for the check—I’m not a robot. But, this whole dating during quarantine thing has its up-sides, and dare I say, some real potential. And here’s why:
Games Are Officially Canceled
Thoroughly disturbing and/or entirely unoriginal pandemic related pickup lines aside (see: “If COVID-19 doesn’t take you out, can I?”), I’ve seen a significant improvement in the caliber of dating app conversations since quarantine began—and weeding out the fuckboys has never been easier. I don’t know the exact cause because, just like everyone on Trump’s council to re-open America, I am not a scientist, but perhaps it’s because we have bigger things to worry about than coming off as too eager, too interested, or, god forbid, available.
When someone asks me how I’m staying busy during quarantine:
If a guy doesn’t respond right away, we can’t talk ourselves into believing he’s busy or not looking at his phone. Everyone’s screen time has increased by 200%—if he’s not texting back, he’s just not into you. Period. Sure, quarantine ghosting is a new level of pathetic, but my anxiety is already working overtime, so freeing it from the stress of analyzing every lull in conversation has been truly liberating.
But when they do respond, boy, does being in the midst of a global existential crisis speed things along. The guy I’m quaran-dating and I have been “seeing” each other for less than two weeks, and we’ve already discussed our childhood traumas, relationship with God (or lack thereof), and if/when we want to start a family. If I were to bring up any of these topics within the first few MONTHS of dating someone pre-pandemic, I’d see a suitor turnover rate rivaled only by that of Trump’s press secretaries.
“Dates” Are More Creative
Without the ability to “grab a drink” with someone whose height, occupation, and general creepiness level remains a mystery, we’ve been forced to think all the way back to kindergarten and remember what it was like to have an imagination. So far my dates have included: a simple FaceTime, because love is not in fact blind and one needs to verify that they look somewhat like the photo of them traveling from five years ago; Netflix Party, which is like Netflix and Chill but not a booty call; a homemade cookie drop-off; and a socially distanced neighborhood walk while sporting 2020’s hottest fashion accessory, a face mask.
There are honestly a lot of great options, and they all require more talking and texting than was typical of pre-pandemic dating life. I could see how this would be frustrating for people whose main personality trait is being hot, but I am thriving. Because I’ve always been better in writing, there’s nothing better than a dating life that revolves around witty banter and making light of a global pandemic.
Sex Is Off The Table
We’re all basically living in Too Hot To Handle right now, like it or not. I thought this would send me, in solidarity with our economy, into a Great Depression—but it’s actually been quite therapeutic. Historically, my sense of self-worth has been toxically linked to actively getting laid, often leaving me to cling to physical relationships at the expense of my emotional well-being. Don’t worry, like every good millennial, I’m working through this with my therapist. But quarantine dating has been more effective (and cheaper) than the hours I’ve spent dissecting my attachment and abandonment issues with a licensed professional.
My quarantine boyfriend (which I realize is a stretch, but what else am I supposed to call him?) and I are not having sex, and it has nothing to do with me and everything to do with putting our health and safety first. I feel wanted because yes, he finds me attractive—but also because I’m smart, funny, and entertaining. I know he wants to sleep with me, because what else are single guys in quarantine thinking about? But by not actually having sex, I feel sexier and more confident than I have in quite some time. I am in no way supporting abstinence as an actual long-term choice. I will 100% be having sex (hopefully with quarantine boyfriend), the minute it is safe to do so. But I am thankful, at least right now, for the ability to separate sex from emotional connection, and my self-esteem. And vibrators, I’m also thankful for vibrators.
Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a state of dating that I could maintain forever. If fall rolls in and I still haven’t been touched by a man, the VR industry better speed the f*ck up and figure out a way for us to live in the Sims. But I do think regular life dating can learn a lot from quarantine dating, and even once we are able to “grab a drink” mere seconds after matching on Ship, I will never again be turned off by the idea of a phone call first.