How it feels to be dating in the age of coronavirus

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  • Being single during coronavirus gives lovesick new meaning, says Features Writer Olivia Adams

    The country is in a state of emergency, and so is my love life.

    Two weeks ago I flew to Sri Lanka for my friend’s wedding and enjoyed an epic holiday romance with an Aussie from Melbourne. Returning to reality in moody London was a serious struggle, and so I decided to get swiping on the one app I have – Hinge (more than one seems an overwhelming prospect) – and set up a date in the city.

    At this time, coronavirus was spreading across the UK, but as the government hadn’t advised against socialising we kept to the date and time. On the tube to north London I felt judged: it was Friday night and I felt like the only female wearing make-up and heading back into central.

    Instead of people spilling out onto the streets from various pubs and bars, there were a few somber looking men having pints and looking deep in thought. There was genuinely no laughter, drunk silliness or affection between people. London was subdued, and it was sad to see.

    The date was average (lack of atmosphere definitely didn’t help), and we parted ways. But not to be disheartened, I decided to proactively set up another one. By this time, the online dating world was taking the pandemic slightly more seriously. By this I mean they’d updated their profiles.

    A selection read:

    ‘Together we could: ‘self-isolate at mine’’

    ‘Will you be my quarantine?’

    ‘Will swap nudes for toilet roll’

    ‘I’m looking for: pasta, rice and soap’

    I was surprised to see coronavirus being used as a conversation starter, but according to the website OKCupid, between January and March, COVID-19 has seen a boost in mentions on dating profiles by 262 per cent. Seriously.

    What could I change mine to, I mused. Perhaps, I’m looking for: a coronavirus-free partner? Don’t @ me, I’m only joking.

    The profile update would have been pointless anyway, as the date never happened. Instead, I spent the night disinfecting myself and settling into social isolation in my house in south London*.

    If the situation weren’t so serious, I might be able to laugh this off as a universal plot to keep me single forever.

    This meme puts it perfectly:

    To be honest, I’m just grateful UK apps haven’t gone to the extreme of creating a COVID-19 update, like The One in Iceland. Users will now be asked to specify their coronavirus status, choosing from the options: I have it, I have had it, I’m in quarantine and I haven’t had it. The app will then match users based on this information, and while I understand the creators’ aim of reducing the risk of dating amid the pandemic, it does feel like the world has gone slightly mad.

    With new men off-limits for the foreseeable, the temptation to reach out to an ex is particularly strong before lockdown well and truly begins. Let’s just say I won’t judge you if you do, because quite frankly, being single in a time of self-isolation can be lonely. Watching your favourite socialising spots close up and couple friends get cosy together is testing even to the most positive of mindsets. I strongly recommend downloading Houseparty, the best app for video chat with your friends.

    Another distraction is self-pleasure. Sales of sex toys have rocketed as people self-isolate from coronavirus. Bosses at Womanizer have revealed demand in the UK was up 13 per cent in the last fortnight, although Italy was 60 per cent and France 40 per cent. Has hand san replaced lube, I wonder?

    Maybe I’m destined to be with the Aussie after all. It’s not like I can kiss or spend quality time with anyone in London right now. We could write love letters. Or send care packages featuring hand sanitisier. Just an idea.

    * It’s a house share of five.

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