The pandemic has made dating better than before, says Olivia Adams
I like this ‘new normal’ of dating. I try not to go on about it because I know most of my friends (and the population) disagree about the enjoyment of our current dating habits. From social distancing mandates to health fears and a craving of physical intimacy, I can see how voicing this opinion could create an argument shouted across a two-metre space.
But social distancing dates are good, and I firmly believe I can win over you sceptics when I detail how I’ve realised this. Especially because it’s clear that we might never return to ‘normal’. It simply doesn’t exist anymore.
Dating app stigma is silenced
With people turning to dating apps in record numbers, the stigma surrounding saying ‘we met online’ is well and truly over. Hinge rolled out ‘Date From Home,’ a feature that lets users launch a video chat if both people agree to the call, and Bumble was well ahead of its rivals, offering in-app video calls last year. It’s sad couples ever felt they would be ostracised by society for admitting they fell in love online, but at least it’s no more.
According to a Bumble survey, 55 per cent of users said they would want someone by their side should they have to go through lockdown, or something similar, again. And forty-three percent said they’d spend more time chatting to people over the app than they did before the pandemic. Lockdown has really given us time to think about we want when things go back to normal, and I take these survey results to mean that app users have an increased focus on getting to know someone and building trust before meeting in real life, therefore looking for more than just a casual fling that ends in ghosting. Promising stuff.
While I absolutely reject the outdated rules surrounding sex (if you want to sleep with someone on the first date: do it. It does not make you less eligible to be a long-term partner), trying to word a sentence if you’re not in the mood can sometimes feel awkward and insincere. This dilemma that lingers throughout the date has now been eradicated. Instead, you simply enjoy each other’s company and head home when the need to use the loo outweighs the joy of the date.
Rules are made to be broken respected
Lockdown has made me reconsider the type of person I want to be with. Before, confidence (read: arrogance) oozed sex appeal. Today, I love nothing more than a considerate rule respecter. Socially distant dating makes it unbelievably obvious who is selfish and who is not. If the person you date IRL doesn’t mock you when you attempt to keep distance or decline a kiss, they could be a keeper. This is because they have good dating habits and are giving me what I desire in a future relationship – consideration, compassion and care.
Too many lovers, too little love
Thanks to societal norms (aren’t they the worst?) women tend to weigh the benefits of having casual sex against the costs of how it might affect any future, committed, relationships. E.G, being judged for being ‘promiscuous’. Meanwhile, men’s sexual history is more often boastful and bursting with pride at their list of sexual partners. Now, if men are sleeping around, it’s no longer just off-putting, it’s a deal breaker. We got complacent about catching STIs, but coronavirus is a non-negotiable.
Witness the fitness
As I mentioned on my first socially distant date, I clocked up an impressive 10,000 steps during a weekend walk with a Hinge guy. Before, I’d sit slumped in a dark bar, ordering alcoholic drinks that were definitely compromising my ability to assess whether we were legitimately clicking. Now, park dates not only keep us moving (bring on a better shape), they also remind us of the importance of having nature in our lives, and the importance of having freedom.
And there you have it. When the UK entered lockdown on March 23, the last thing on my mind was how it would affect my love life. Three months on, the impact of the pandemic on my dating habits has been profound – and I never thought I’d say that.