I’ve not had much luck in love over the past few years. But, dare I say it, coronavirus might just be the thing to change my relationship status.
In the grand scheme of things, dating isn’t all that important right now but it’s nice to think that covid-19 may bring something besides death and disaster (which it undoubtedly and tragically has). Dating aside, it has reminded the human race as a whole of the importance of social interaction.
While in self-isolation recovering from a fever, cough and pneumonia brought on by the aforementioned virus, I was having a gander on a dating app when I matched with a man, who we’ll call Matt. I didn’t think much of it, and as a rather cynical millennial, who like most women has endured the many perils of online dating – ghosting, dick pics, the works – I assumed our chat would fizzle out, especially given the country is in lockdown. Research even shows that unless you decide to meet up or at the very least exchange numbers within the first few messages, it’s unlikely you will ever have a date in real life.
But lo and behold, it’s nearly three weeks later, and Matt and I have had over a dozen video dates and talk for hours every night.
Our first date set the tone. We chatted for five hours, got far too drunk and things got steamy on video. The second date escalated to full-blown video sex – not all that surprising when you consider we’re both cooped up, alone and horny, in our respective flats.
“For all intents and purposes, we’re in the first stages of dating, except for one very important fact: we haven’t actually met yet.”
But sex is only a part of what we do. We have movie nights, play games on Houseparty, run through quizzes to learn more about each other, and share intimate details about our families, our past relationships, work, and more. We text each other every morning to check in, and already have silly private jokes. If either of us is having a bad day, we’ll talk it through together – like when I received news about a seriously ill friend, Matt let me unload on him.
For all intents and purposes, we’re in the first stages of dating, except for one very important fact: we haven’t actually met yet.
I’ve been in similar situations in the past, including chatting to a man for six weeks while he was at sea, then having our first date and realising that he was completely different in person (personality-wise, he didn’t catfish me). In general, I also prefer to get the first date out of the way quickly, because I hate idle chit-chat on dating apps or on text (it’s so tiring to repeat what I do/where I’m from/what I like) so I’d rather find out if we’re a real life match as soon as possible.
But oddly, I’m not too worried about that this time around.
I know what you’re thinking: ‘Be realistic, you might not like each other when you meet, this will have been a waste of time or this is insane’. I agree – this may end up being a pointless endeavour, but then again we take that risk regardless of how we date.
“We’ve even had our first argument, which in hindsight was ridiculous, because it happened out of nowhere.”
However, the downside to virtual dating is that it can become very intense very quickly, and you’re not always certain which parts of your connection are authentic. It’s also hard at times to interpret the subtext behind texts, which is why we prefer to video chat.
Matt and I both lead busy lives, and we have admitted that it would have taken us weeks or even months to get to this same level of intimacy offline, if at all. We’ve even had our first argument, which in hindsight was ridiculous, because it happened out of nowhere as a result of us joking about who would fall in love with the other first. After that, we decided to cut down on our calls a bit, but it’s been a positive move as we simply needed to cool things down slightly. Like I said, feelings seem more intense in the current climate.
Maybe it’s because we’re both bored at home and there are no other distractions, and so we are willing to put more energy into getting to know each other, or maybe it’s the fact that there’s no physical aspect yet – though there has been a lot of creative video sex – but our unusual way of dating is working for now.
There is a chance that this could just be a great virtual match, a random occurrence that will end as soon as we meet – as soon as lockdown allows us to, that is.
But for now, I’m willing to take that chance.
Almara Abgarian is a freelance journalist. Follow her on Twitter at @almaraabgarian