The past few months have been rough for me. Being single, living alone, feeling detached from the world has taken its toll. Sure, we have friends to talk to on video calls, or in socially distant settings, but it doesn’t quite replace the intimacy of being in a romantic relationship.
At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, I thought dating was going to be even more difficult than before, since I was unable to go anywhere to meet someone new. So I, like many others, turned to dating apps in search of true love. As a past user of dating apps, I always found myself deleting them after a few terrible experiences. But now, during the pandemic, the experience has been very different. I’ve found a much larger pool of datable men and had way more meaningful connections.
As it turns out, being single during the pandemic hasn’t been all bad. In fact, for me at least, it’s been a great time to date, perhaps because the social situation forces singles to create more genuine connections with others.
I’ve learned a few things along the way.
Filter through potential dates
With social distancing policies in place, I’ve carried on conversations with online matches for longer periods before an in-person meeting. These conversations tend to be followed by phone or video calls if the individual is really interested, which makes it so much easier to filter through individuals who are looking for an actual relationship as opposed to those looking for something more casual.
Most individuals who are only looking for sex will likely not want to carry on a conversation for too long. Since I am looking for someone who wants more of a relationship, I’ve saved time by not meeting up with and pursuing people who aren’t on the same page.
Learn their values upfront
This pandemic presents a unique opportunity for singles to reveal their values and outlook about a global crisis with potential partners. In the past, sometimes it would be difficult to get a grasp on the true colors of a new match until a number of dates, but now it’s often revealed in the first few messages. In record time, I found out which of my matches shared my worldview and which didn’t quite gel with my political views regarding economic relief and health care. For me, these topics are of utmost importance and deal-breakers for a relationship. Chances are, if we don’t share the same outlook on the pandemic, there’s likely no potential in the match.
Put sex on hold
Before the pandemic, it was common for me to have sex on the third or fourth date, but quarantine has prevented me from meeting in person and acting on impulse. While sex is great, I’d typically follow the act by romanticizing about a stranger just because I liked the sex. Now, with a pandemic in play, there’s no sexual tension to act on in person, saving me from unnecessary headaches over a mythical version of a man that I romanticized after having sex with him.
An unexpected upside: self-exploration
Beyond the benefits of online dating during the pandemic, I’ve been able to do some serious self-exploration. I have discovered I’m more intuitive and resilient than I ever thought I was or could be. Solitude and silence pushed me to figure out what I value, and I’m now more in touch with the parts of myself that I had been neglecting or ignoring. In growing this stronger sense of self, I’ve been able to see what I value in others and what I seek in a romantic partner.
While being single and looking to mingle during a global pandemic has definitely had its terrible moments, there’s a silver lining I’m celebrating: I now seek a genuine connection with my online matches and practice intimacy in ways other than sex.
Finding a partner with similar values has never been more important to me, and I’m willing to wait to meet the right guy. Above all, I’ve learned the most valuable lesson: I’m resilient and just fine on my own.