Love In The Time Of Covid-19
John Steinback once famously wrote “a sad soul can kill you quicker - far quicker - than a germ”.
In the past few weeks, our lives have been forced into reluctant disarray due to a harmful virus.
For most of us, our new lives of “quarantine” consist of: casual clothes, unnecessary snacking, video calls, decreased exercise, increased news consumption, listlessness and an imagination run rampant.
Yet while our homes are now our trenches, the streets are no man’s land, and other humans have become landmines to avoid, the need for connection is at an all-time high.
Look at your call log. Read your text messages. Tally the number of video chats you’ve had in the past week.
The bottom line is this: people need people.
With so much uncertainty in the world, it’s only natural that we turn to the people whom we are familiar with - the people that mean something to us or meant something to us in the past. In this odd period of self-isolation, the stark reality is that it took a global pandemic to make people realize not only what is important in their life, but who is important.
So how is this universal captivity affecting something like dating?
Well, for one thing, video dating has sky rocketed in the last 2 weeks. Walking dates became a thing. And with no sports to watch, guys are looking to fill their idle time outside of work. While these changes have their pros and cons, my biggest concern begs the question: are people making their decisions to connect out of fear or choice?
With the feeling of scarcity in full effect and the sentiment of loneliness abound, I can guarantee anyone reading this right now between the ages of 18-49 that is single, has either heard from or reached out to an ex in the past 2 weeks. In a weird way, Coronavirus is the new alcohol - it gave people the courage to say and do things they otherwise maybe wouldn’t have.
Prior to this, the world was pretty comfortable behind their screens, opting to swipe on dating apps in lieu of saying hello to someone they met in a public setting. And only now in these dark times do we realize the blessing of an in-person connection. As the old adage goes "you don't know what you've got until it's gone".
But the irony of all of this is that two years ago, I posed a question to all of you. I asked “Is love a matter of fate, chance, or choice”
While the vote was not unanimous, the answer that was a winner by a landslide was CHOICE.
Let’s stop and think about that for a second.
So then why are so many people using this “alone time” to move backwards in their dating life rather than forward?
Some people were forced together, others forced apart, and some stranded alone. But as a great equalizer of sorts, this virus forced people to take inventory of their lives and prioritize who and what was of greatest importance. Yet even with this unique opportunity, instead of living in the present, many people found their minds wandering to the past (regrets) and to the future (worry).
I’ve worked in the dating industry for the past 12 years and I think this is as good of a time as any to give you my opinion on what I want people to remember.
If you are someone who is jumping on dating apps or reaching out to your exes at this time, an important question to ask yourself is why?
Are you bored? Lonely? Fearful?
There is no time like the present to really learn how to enjoy your own company and practice being with yourself. Take this time to improve your life, practice creativity, and figure out what you want to achieve. Are you happy with your life? Are you unselfishly ready to bring someone else into your life?
If you’re someone that recently started dating someone prior to the Coronavirus outbreak or are in a committed relationship, this will be a great test to see if your relationship has the strength to stand the test of time.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again - how couples handle a crisis is a far better indicator of whether they’ll work out rather than how attracted they are to each other or how much fun they have together. This is why it’s better to have more in common than less when it comes to the person you’re dating. It boils down to what you value and how you spend your resources: your time, your money and your energy.
I’m not suggesting you date a carbon copy of yourself, but in my years of matchmaking and coaching, the couples that ended up staying together all had 3 things in common: they were ready, they were open-minded, and they had similar core values. Their decisions were made from a place of choice, not fear.
So if you’re someone that is hopping on dating apps or fervently reaching out to your past love interests, then I think it's a good time to investigate which emotions are driving you. If you were unhappy or lonely before this virus started, then it's an important time to remember this: fulfillment is a feeling, not a person. And it’s your job to create that feeling.
When all of this is over, my hope for the world is that we don’t take things for granted anymore. We practice mindfulness, empathy and gratitude regularly. We look up from our phones more often. We give each other more hugs. We continue washing our hands. We stop taking our daily freedoms for granted. And however small, we learn to recognize the blessings that are scattered throughout our day instead of waiting until Thanksgiving to acknowledge all that we have to be thankful for.
As for dating, hopefully we’ll start using dating apps again in the way they were intended to be used - as a secondary way to meet people, not the primary one. And maybe, just maybe, what’s old will become new again: saying hello for the first time face to face, not screen to screen.
Love starts with us. It always has. There’s no new lesson to be learned here, just an old one that needed revisiting.
My mom said it best when she said that maybe this virus will force people to start thinking again...with their heart.
I hope she’s right.