Last month, I wrote about dating during the time of a global pandemic. Since then, not much has changed; we’re still all stuck indoors and trying to get our kicks online. But with a lot of time to think, I’ve been considering ways we’re connecting romantically with others. Can we form romantic connections online with people we’ve never met?
Whether we’re coupled-up or single, we’re all yearning to feel desired because we don’t have the usual opportunities to feel wanted. We’re not dressing up, flirting, being looked at. We’re spending our days in our pyjamas, with no bra, surrounded by our families or with our partner. Coupled friends have said how the first few weeks were characterised by sex at all times of the day, in every room of the house, but now it seems that sex is a laborious after-thought to a long day at a make-shift desk. Date nights at home are losing their novelty. Now, we’re enjoying the excuse to dress up and have a candle-lit dinner at the kitchen table and the promise of a FaceTime date with the guy we’ve been messaging about…not very much really.
Intimacy is developing in different ways. We’re returning to the days of speaking on the phone, we’re leaving voice notes to hear the voice of our ‘Someone New’ and trying to maintain momentum at a distance. Intimacy is built on trust and with no established friendship or shared memories we’re finding novel ways to build foundations. We’re sharing self-identifying information and insights into our personalities with others – blog links, podcasts we’ve featured on… By laying our creative pursuits out for others to critique, we’re showing trust, mutual respect and that we’re interested in moving forward.
To work out whether someone is worth meeting in real-life once restrictions are lifted, we’re making judgements of someone’s character. Our usual signifiers that show whether it’s worth progressing an online conversation to a real-life relationship have altered. We’re talking to someone for weeks, we can’t text too much as there’s not much to talk about, we’re trying to make ourselves seem interesting and interested even though we’re all doing the same things day in and day out. Some friends have said they’ve had to be more confident and verbal with a crush because they can’t glean someone’s body language.
Date One in the flesh is still quite some time off so we can’t rely on a good shag to carry us through to Date Two. Sexual chemistry isn’t enough to warrant investing time in someone; we need to be attracted to someone’s personality to continue to talk with someone. There are no shortcuts in the time of Coronavirus.
But how can we be sure someone is genuinely interested? Are they just passing the time? Or are people expanding their preferences for a potential partner? Are people being more open-minded or stifled by the reduction of opportunities? If you form an online connection with someone, is there a way to know if they feel the same way? I’d argue ‘no’. Anyone can tell you they’re interested or really feeling a connection, but we can’t truly understand someone else’s motives. So do we take the risk?