Written by Sophie Hack
Illustrated by Molly Davies
Three months into lockdown and the new normal is setting in strong. Remember going out? It’s a distant memory now, along with the memory of being in a wine-induced haze frantically swiping on my phone. Who would have thought the biggest cock block of 2020 would be a pandemic?
Lockdown is pants. Everything feels like it’s been stripped to the essentials and rightly so to control the virus, but that doesn’t mean you should give up the ghost on dating. Even just for some instant gratification I find myself crawling back and installing apps. There’s no shame in wanting to connect with people during this time – from a safe distance though, of course.
It feels like the general consensus with dating in lockdown is ‘don’t bother’. Everything else is on hold so why let some small social affair become paramount? However, the optimist in me wants to see every situation as an opportunity. There are some positives we can take from the current situation that may ever so slightly put some faith back in you and show that people aren’t the total worst.
Think about the last date you went on. Where was it? Chances are it was in a bar or there was some form of drink or activity involved. Whether it was a cute but totally cliché bowling date or slamming back Jägerbombs, there was some form of distraction involved and some way to try and impress the other person.
Making the date an ‘unforgettable’ night was at the forefront of your mind so much so that you’re not actually paying attention to whether you’re compatible with the other person. Now we’re all living life in the slow lane, there’s not much else to do but sit and talk and actually get to know one another, a shocking home truth that will take some getting used to.
In all honesty and as gooey as it sounds, human connection is something everyone needs. Why deny yourself something so instinctive? If you’ve been toying with the idea of trying the whole dating debacle again, don’t let lockdown put you off.
Of course, I am not advocating to break social distancing just to get some, but there are ways to comply and still not restrict yourself entirely. Below is a list of ideas on how to spice up your lockdown love life.
- A casual walk or picnic in the park
With the more relaxed version of the restrictions in place, you shouldn’t feel guilty for wanting to see someone who you don’t live with in a public place so long as you respect social distancing. It can be a time to connect with someone on a different level and to focus on learning more about them rather than chasing the end goal of sharing an Uber on the drunken ride home.
If you’re able to take advantage of the quintessential British heatwave, you could do so with a super casual walk in the park. You’re in a safe, public place for if anything went south and a great location in lockdown to get to know someone with little distraction. If you need an excuse to escape, tell them you forgot to feed your cat!
- Online gaming date
If sitting in a park two metres away from someone you barely know makes your knees feel a bit funny, I spoke to someone who set up an online first date in Animal Crossing. The game lets players travel to visit another player’s home – a wild concept in lockdown. If you’re someone who is spending hours a day on this game (I see you), it certainly beats an awkward Zoom call.
- Video calling
If video calling is your go-to, spice things up so it doesn’t feel like a business meeting. Prepare some questions (Never Have I Ever springs to mind) or even set up a game you can both play at the same time, such as downloading the free Cards Against Humanity to print at home.
- Netflix parties, livestreams and takeaway
With technology at your fingertips, it’s super easy to get creative with quarantine dates. The well-known Netflix and chill scenario has a new meaning with Netflix Party being introduced. You could have the same takeout delivered to each other’s door for a DIY dinner date, or watch a DJ/artist livestream at the same time on Boiler Room, Instagram or Facebook.
- Write letters
If you want to take it old school you could send each other letters – or emails if you’re impatient. It’s a great way to take things slow in lockdown and give you something to look forward to.
If you’ve levelled up to the next stage and are isolating with a significant other, it’s important to remember to spend time together, not just co-exist. One friend I spoke to who is isolating with their boyfriend said it’s always important to “give each other space”. They added: “if you feel overbearing try and check in on a friend, I keep wanting attention but it’s an intense situation so I hassle my mates instead…”
It’s a difficult balance of getting the emotional connection you need and to also be respectful, but just because lockdown makes things a little difficult it doesn’t mean you should give up completely. The physical side of dating may be on the back burner for now, but maybe this is the perfect time to work out what you want and need from a person mutually.
After some investment you might come out of lockdown with a better viewpoint on yourself and your prospective partners, or maybe you’ll just bank a night of drinks in the pub with someone in the future.
Sophie moved to Birmingham when she was 18 after spending years in Brum’s best music venues. She works in social media, PR and events and is the co-owner of wxmen and LGBTQ+ focused Slag Mag (Serious Ladies of Art and Gigs). You can visit Slag Mag here and follow them on Facebook and Instagram.
Edited by Stephanie Kleanthous