Being in any type of relationship during COVID is messy, but the underlying subtext is that it requires effort. In fact it seems to highlight just how much effort it takes to be in any type of relationship, ever. This complexity is piqued by the fact that, with such huge limitations placed on our freedom we can’t lean on our default gestures of effort. No more cocktails at that cute bar down the street or surprising new dates with dinner at their favourite vegan micro brewery. Covid Coupling If you’ve been fortunate enough to bag a babe before the curve of Covid struck then you probably consider your timing to be damn near perfect. For a minute at least. When the novelty of being stuck at home all the time (even with the prospect of untapped sex, lacivious chats, stroking and around the clock drinks) wears off, you’re met with the reality that Covid really, actually is a thing that might just fuck with your head, even if you pretended for a while that it wouldn’t. Back down in reality, wolverine, shit is getting gnarly and emotions are sideways. Feelings don’t progress naturally, because despite your thoughts on the illustrious honeymoon period you’re actually living in a fishbowl of hell. The scene is set with no notion of time, unusually premature and intense conversations and a bubble of a DIY relationship which could, actually be a mirage. Unsure. If you’re looking for new content for your reality drama channel then be my guest (an send me video updates please). Overall, now more than ever, it’s critical to be able to ascertain the difference between wanting attention, needing affection (it’s okay, we’re all humans) and developing a deeper connection with someone who you actually might like, even after the parameters of lockdown dissipate. Single Pringle If you missed the recipe for an insta-relationship before the Covid curve hit then you’re relegated to a busy masturbation schedule instead. Add a dash of mentally pawing through the what if’s and how come’s with your exes (or actually anyone you’ve ever spoken to at all) and you’ll be on track to emotional revelations and spiritual sexual proclamations in no time. Virtual Dating Sparks Other options? Opening up any one of the dormant dating apps on your phone for a spark of attention, connection or chemistry. Dating potential has long since moved to the comfort of technology and opening a dating app, oogling photos and taking part in frivolous chit chat is the same, pandemic or non. The biggest difference comes when, if you actually like someone you can’t do a chemistry check IRL by suggesting a quick glass of wine. Virtual dating is now less of a jokey porn thing and more of the only resolution to the lull in, in situ perving. It all seems kind of naff but there’s something sweet about the experience of chatting on the phone and gauging your interest just by voice, laugh and expression alone. And after you’ve ticked that box you get to move to second base: A cute, boozy video call. My first adventures in virtual dating left me pleasantly surprised. Why don’t we always do this? It’s a fantastic screening process. There’s no need to put on makeup, pants or get in an Uber and the efficiency also means it’s now entirely possible to go on 10 dates in a week. Win! Alas, after 2 weeks of telling the same cute anecdotes and attempting to give interesting insight into my life (which is now actually lived in 3x3 metres of concrete and boring as batshit), I come to the same conclusion that I usually arrive at with dating apps. We need human interaction to form a connection with someone. You need to see them in the wild; how they move, how their face creases when they laugh, how they treat others and how they cheekily inject touches into conversation just for a chance to get closer to you. Virtual dating may allow for romantic nuances to build by stretching tensions into future hope, but at some point it becomes two dimensional. My advice: Stay single, weather the storm. Focus on yourself for just a moment (or another 2 months). I’m happily single so I had to phone a friend for a bit of a perve into her life WFH with her partner. Aside from all the regular strain that COVID places on the everyday livelihood of individuals, couples face the volatile landscape of being confined together all day, everyday. As humans we crave security and certainty. We want to know be inextricably linked with our lover and crave their attention and presence. But, when it’s unrelenting we start to wish for space and the mystery that is haphazardly created by independence. Ultimately, relationships require effort on a daily basis and they require that +10 during Covid, and the gumption to occasionally tell the person that you love to shut the fuck up. Here’s how the coupled-up are surviving COVID: Set a routine: Creating a routine is a lifesaver when WFH because it helps to maintain a sense of normalcy, balances chores and separates work from domesticity. With a routine in place domestic duties are more evenly distributed and it helps to factor in exercise, alone time and quality time together. It also helps minimise fighting over who gets to detail clean the cupboard when the extreme perils of boredom and demotivation hit. Limit work chat: Sounds weird but this is especially pertinent during work hours. One of my favourite couples let me in on their secret of not actually talking much during the day. They claim it’s unnecessary and can impinge on their productivity during the day. Saving up any chat for after hours gives them conversation at the dinner table and the proper time to help each other unwind in each other’s company. Date night: In my opinion dates are critical to the survival of any relationship but during lockdown they could potentially be the difference in an official relationship undo. The main challenge lies in differentiating date night from any other night in your small shared space with the same human you see 24/7, but with a few ground rules handcuffs and a sprinkle of creativity (read: booze) it can be done:
Set technology boundaries: Commit to having dinner and quality time together without the distraction of phones, computers or TV.
Set the scene: Light some candles, play some lo fi music and try to eat in a different area of the house, or al fresco if poss. If your dining table is also your workspace make sure you banish anything work related from view.
Be fancy: Leave the cooking & cleaning for other nights and treat yourself to takeaway (but the fancy kind). You can do your bit to support local small businesses too by ordering DIY cocktail kits and pretty amazing degustation menus to enjoy at home. Not being able to go to a restaurant is not an excuse to be a slob, thank you.
Play games: No better time to dust off Jenga, Trivial Pursuit or any of those particularly deep and illuminating games like We are Not really Strangers to dust off all those skeletons.
Get creative: Just because you can’t leave the house and there’s absolutely zero natural excitement or mystery doesn’t mean you can’t get sexy for one another. Put on some lingerie, shave, and dress the fuck up. Better yet, set a theme for date night. Got French on the menu? Have a picnic at the Eiffel Tower in Berets. Mexican? Why not turn your lounge into a daybed, shake some margaritas and start your own Tulum themed beach club?
WRITTEN BY Jess Matthews Writer and Dating & Relationship Coach