Coronavirus and dating: How we’re making it work in the age of COVID-19

As published on Mamamia, March 20, 2020 :https://www.mamamia.com.au/coronavirus-and-dating/

I’ve only been dating Jack for three and a half weeks.

Together, we’ve discussed COVID-19 mortality rates over Shiraz, compared our number of remaining toilet paper rolls and messaged about whether or not our we’ll have to work from home. There can’t be fancy dates at the theatre (closed), trips to the Melbourne Comedy Festival (cancelled), or evening MCG footy dates to rival about our favourite AFL teams.

Chances for going to parties, birthdays or other social events are also slimming, as our respective friends and families slowly embrace the new norm of social distancing. As for our own hand-touching, I feel as if we’ve quickly grown an unspoken level of trust about hygiene practises.

If one of us does unknowingly go down with coronavirus, we’ll have to go down together. How soon is too soon to quarantine with the guy you’re seeing? – the latest advice columns in magazines should read. Or, is he just dating you to get access to your toilet paper?

Welcome to dating in the new Melbourne.

“At least you’re actually seeing each other,” my girlfriend groaned at an impromptu sunny afternoon drink. “I hung out with a guy last weekend, too,” she raised her brows, “but it’s casual, and I don’t want to see too many people at the same time when we’re not even meant to be handshaking with strangers!”

We finished our apple ciders and pondered; how should us young, single people meet and ‘date’ new people in a global pandemic? Or should we all just… delete our apps for a while?

On Saturday, Jack and I decided to stay in. We drank peppermint tea and walked his sister’s golden retriever down to the park, and I told him about conversations with anxious five-year-old children in my class at work, a primary school.

The children had wanted to know about death. What happens when you die? Can you still hear things? I wondered how much COVID-19 media-saturation was filtering down to our smallest people.

“People have different beliefs about what happens when you die,” I’d told them, extra carefully, calmly. “Talk to your mum and dad about that. I think the most important thing to remember is, we can always send people love in our hearts,” I pressed my palms to my chest, and their little hands copied. “Let’s be extra kind to people around us this week,” I said. They nodded.

Perhaps in the scheme of things, lapsed dating rituals are a small price to pay.

My nana would probably have laughed about my considering of the coronavirus dating landscape, if she were still around. Not going out much? Cooking together? That’s exactly what we all did in the best of times, you privileged young Melbourne woman! She would’ve mocked me, only half-playful, with a slight shake of her head.

But if schools and workplaces are closed down, early-stage relationships will have to take a road less travelled. Maybe Jack and I will be forced to get to know each other via board games, Netflix and home-cooked lunches. Maybe we’ll eat pasta, when one of us manages to find a supermarket that has any left, and it will seem like a luxury good. Then, we can scout for toilet paper as a team. Peppermint tea, dog walks and staying in will become our norm.

“You’re overthinking it,” my sister said at dinner, after making her boyfriend scrub between his fingers in the bathroom while we waited for the burritos. “This could really be an opportunity for heaps of those rainy-day conversations with Jack. Or the types of chats you have with someone when it’s late at night and there’s nothing to do or see, when everything’s dark. That’s when you talk about the real stuff.”

I’ve only been seeing Jack for three and a half weeks. It’s Love and Dating in the Age of Corona. If seeing someone new wasn’t already a delicate minefield, it certainly is now. I’ll let you know how it goes.

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