Dating under lockdown By Hadley Stewart | @wordsbyhadley We’re being asked to stay home and adapt to a new normality. The coronavirus pandemic is changing the way we work, the way we shop, and even the way we date. It’s not just our jobs and supply of loo roll that are on the line today- even the thought of going out on dates is being furloughed. If we were living through the Spanish Flu pandemic of the early 1900s we’d all be penning love letters to our beaus; thankfully quills have been relegated, giving way to the likes of Zoom, FaceTime, House Party. FIRST TIME ON FACETIME Jamie from London started dating a guy at the start of the lockdown. The pair had been chatting on Tinder, and when they realised the lockdown meant they’d be unable to go on a date for a while, they opted for FaceTime. “FaceTime with a drink in hand to replicate some sort of normality,” Jamie adds. They now chat once a week over FaceTime, trying to recreate the feeling of going out. “We keep it pretty basic when it comes to video dates,” he explains. “I know friends of mine have done dinner parties and watch parties, but that’s not really something that appeals to me. We tend to stick to the good old fashioned drink and chats. Luckily we are both really chatty, or it could get awkward pretty quick!” It’s not the same as going out on a date in a bar, admits Jamie, but he says he’s open to this new way of dating. “It is really different and I definitely embraced the novelty of it all,” he says. “Then I spoke to a friend of mine about it, and she was totally fascinated, which made me think about it further. In some ways I really love it!” He also feels that the pressure he felt when going out on dates has been lifted. “You know you’re not stuck in a bar with someone having to wait out what would be considered a normal bout of time should the date be bad. There’s no pressure to get physical and it really puts a focus on the conversation which is key. That being said, being 4 weeks on a bit of physical contact wouldn’t go amiss.” What’s he looking forward to once the lockdown is over? “I’m really excited!” he beams. “I’m really interested in what a real date will be like. Will the first “real” date feel like an eighth date or will it feel like you’re back at date number one? I suppose it could feel a bit like dating someone that you’ve known as a friend.” BAD TIMING Spencer from Manchester was chatting to a guy on Instagram for a while, and finally decided to meet up with him. They hung out and got on well, then 2 days later the lockdown came into force. “I thought this is just typical,” jokes Spencer. They too live far away from each other – Spencer in Manchester, and his beau in Shropshire - buy the lockdown might have nudged them a little closer, thanks to FaceTime. “Before this, he said that he hated FaceTime and that it wasn’t his thing, but I love it, I spend my days calling people all the time and pestering them, just to have a chat,” he explains. “I said to him that if this is going to work you’re going to have to get yourself on FaceTime, and he kind of hesitated for a while, and now we have our 8pm FaceTime sessions.” The monotonous conversations about the daily grind are gone. “We chat about our day, but there’s not much to chat about, based on the fact that nothing’s happening anymore.” So they have been thinking creatively about how to spend their time together. “I’ve been thinking up ways that we can make it a bit more exciting, and give us stuff to do,” says Spencer. “We’ve been playing games with each other, having Netflix parties and watching films together. We’ve been trying to find things to act like we’re going on dates, whilst being physically apart.” And he thinks this has given the pair a stronger connection. “You learn their little personality traits and seeing him smile, rather than reading a message and not having that context. I think it’s made that connection a lot stronger. When you’re just texting back and forth, there’s not much personality coming through.” Similarly to Jamie, Spencer is missing physical contact with others. “I’m quite a touchy, huggy person; so with my friends and family, I’m constantly hugging people. With the lockdown in general, nobody is touching anyone and that’s hard. But then seeing this person that you want to be intimate with, and having this barrier between you, it’s very difficult.” It seems that he won’t be holding back once the restrictions are lifted. “As soon as it’s over, I’m going to grab him and throw him in the air!” TAKING TIME FOR YOURSELF Justin Myers is a columnist at British GQ, where he writes about sex and relationships. He reminds us that taking some time for ourselves is also important during the lockdown. “There can be a pressure to be always in touch, in a permanent state of communication. Being apart isn’t easy and can feed insecurities. But you don’t have to speak every day, nor message them at all times. A little bit of communication downtime can make the contact you do have feel more exciting and less like a chore,” he argues. “Instead of a stream of consciousness over WhatsApp, make it an event,” suggests Justin. “Embrace the cheesy romcom stuff you never thought you’d do – have a date night over FaceTime, listen to an album at the same time and message each other your thoughts while it’s playing. Find time to be in the moment, together, and it will make being apart seem less tough.” FS TIPS FOR DATING UNDER LOCKDOWN Think creatively about what you can both do at the same time, such as cook, eat dinner, have a drink, watch a movie, go for a walk Make it an event: book a time that works for both of you and call each other then, just like you would if you were meeting for a date in person Try to do things apart too, like chatting with friends, reading a book, learning a new skill. That way you’ll have something new to introduce into the conversation If you’re missing the sexual aspect of your relationship, now’s the perfect excuse to get out the toys, wank, and get to know your body even better. Talk about how you’re feeling with friends, family or your partner. It can be an anxious and isolating time for all of us. There are many ways to keep your relationship going during the lockdown, or even start a new one. Nothing will make up for the intimacy of a physical connection with your partner, but going on dates over video chat can help to keep those fires burning. This temporary new way of dating won’t last forever, so get writing a list of things you want to do with your partner once restrictions are lifted.