Dating lives shift online during COVID-19 era

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GRAPHIC BY MAGGIE MORE / THE FLAT HAT

Quarantine is not the prime time for dating, but as horny and lovelorn college students, we must take what we can get, wherever we can get it. I am one of the lucky people who has stumbled upon a true find on Tinder without being catfished or assumed to be a bottom — the horrors of such a match. Despite the wonders of crushing on an intensely beautiful and hilarious girl, I instead find myself desperately calling out “Wherefore art thou Covid-19,” lamenting over lost chances for coffee, movie dates and obligatory awkward hand-holding. I know that social distancing is an essential responsibility, and like many other students at the College of William and Mary, I have family members who are immunocompromised and must be protected above all else. But my dating life is feeling the effects.

I know that social distancing is an essential responsibility, and like many other students at the College of William and Mary, I have family members who are immuno-compromised and must be protected above all else. But my dating life is feeling the effects.

When I first met her, we began to talk as friends, and despite going to different colleges, we quickly recognized our kismet personalities and interests. As the weeks passed, I began to look forward to meeting her over spring break, during which we would both return to our shared hometown area. As we all know, spring break was fated to turn into a permanent break, and I was unable to do anything in those first few days other than prepare for the shift of moving home and the dreaded online classes. Her school closed shortly after, and I was left to hope that it would be lifted by April 3, the designated reevaluation day from the College. Now, meeting is basically out of the question until likely weeks or months from now, when the pandemic has lessened its grip on the nation.

There are a few unforeseen perks to this dating situation. There’s no pressure to put on your best version of yourself, agonizing over the frivolities of the perfect outfit and makeup. Instead my girl and I are gifted with many opportunities to connect deeper than we might have otherwise in a normal setting. Instead of those coffee dates, I get 3 a.m. tarantula hunts on Animal Crossing, where we talk about how difficult our family situations are given the enforced quarantine. Instead of those movie dates, I get her streaming suggestion of Steven Universe to binge-watch and obsess over with her as each season finale rocks my world. I can be my pajama clad, pre-caffeinated self when we talk, and she can wear her glasses and pink bonnet without feeling insecure, because what else can we do?

There are drawbacks, of course, mainly no smooching and no cuddling. There’s a reason why long-distance relationships are so difficult, and it has less to do with the pure distance and more to do with the resulting effect of not being able to be with each other in person. We don’t get to make dinner together and accidentally bump into each other in the crowded kitchen or check off every movie cliché like teaching her how to follow through on a baseball swing. As much as I love FaceTime and its usefulness during a time like this, it’s a sad substitute for the real thing. Many people are most likely struggling with these same obstacles, whether they’re at the beginning of a relationship or years in the making.

Such obstacles are definitely a drag, but nothing that is currently unavoidable or easily changeable. We must wait out this storm and look for clearer skies, as the newest statistical models monitoring the outbreak suggest they could be within our reach. The best I can do for now is continue getting to know her and enjoy her virtual company while dreaming about our mysteriously-dated first date. And the best any of us can do is continue physical distancing while still keeping ourselves socially connected with friends, family and Tinder dates alike.

Email Elaine Godwin at sgodwin@email.wm.edu.