Dating during COVID-19
While the lockdown and the health crisis quickly became synonymous with solitude in the minds of lovers all over the world, it’s important to illustrate the positive side of this story. Loneliness means wishes and desires arise. No drinks on the terrace (or patio) anymore, no evenings in restaurants, less time spent in transit. More time to think.
The boom in online dating
Dating in a pandemic has its benefits. Alone, you rediscover your body, your fantasies and sometimes even new practices. But these solitary pleasures will do the trick only temporarily, especially when you're at home going in circles. One may then be tempted to call an old bedfellow if it wasn’t for our pride.
It is finally this period that has encouraged the few people who were still reluctant to use dating apps to download one or even several. Alone, you rediscover your body, your fantasies and sometimes even new practices.
It makes sense. The risks are lower, no need to have a drink with someone you don't really like or to make idle conversation when the person you’re talking to already knows what they expect from the relationship. Who hasn't dreamt of squeezing the rules of decorum to get straight to the point? Hooking up is overrated but it’s still possible even during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Since lovers all over the world have been confined, dating sites and dating apps have never been better. Marie, a 23 year old Parisian woman, used to meet her pick ups in bars or on the street but finally decided to register on a couple online sites a few months ago: "I've always been a bit old-fashioned, I never knew what to say in apps, but I was really fed up with not seeing anyone anymore so I got over it." She quickly figured out what to say in chat and transformed the boring conversations such as "How are you doing?" and "What do you do for a living?" into more naughty messages. She knows for a fact that she would have never said these kinds of things while chatting with strangers in person. "When no one can see each other, it becomes much easier to talk about sex with people you don't know, it was the only way to have a hookup somehow," she says laughing. One of the advantages of online dating is that gone are the clichés of girls who have to be prudish in their messages, the distance and anonymity of certain applications allowed them to free themselves.
I've always been a bit old-fashioned, I never knew what to say in apps, but no one knows when dating will go back to normal. I was really fed up with not seeing anyone anymore so I got over it.
This is also the case for some men like Yann, 30, from Strasbourg, who used to dismiss gay-only sites for having barely more than a photos and available date. "I got very close to one guy in particular during the lockdown. Usually, if the photo matched, we would meet at one or the other to do it, but since we were a bit bored and couldn't meet in person, we spoke to each other and that added spice to the relationship. I'm the first to be surprised." The two men took the time to get to know each other, to tell each other what they liked in bed before ending up calling each other several times in video to have fun from a distance. It was a tenfold pleasure for Yann. "We had never met in real life and yet we had talked more than we would with a usual hookup, it was crazy. There was complicity, excitement and a certain embarrassment in making love virtually that I had never felt before." At the end of the lockdown, Yann met, for real this time, a boy who finally became more than just a hookup. The two men have been a couple for almost a year now. For once, the rules of distancing actually brought people closer!
We had never met in real life and yet we had talked more than we would with a usual hookup, it was crazy. There was complicity, excitement and a certain embarrassment in making love virtually that I had never felt before.
It's true that when we think of the male nude, we imagine a horrible picture of a cock in a bathroom. Inspired by the quality of my photos, my boyfriend took it as a challenge and began to stage himself more elaborately to feed our fantasies.
Relationships during this pandemic
It's not only the single men who have discovered sex from a distance. During this pandemic, many couples have found themselves separated from each other. For Imène, it was the opportunity to reclaim her body, be proud of it and no longer be ashamed. She had never dared to send photos of herself naked. "I'm a bit plump and I always asked my boyfriend to turn off the light when we made love. But with the lockdown, we couldn't see each other anymore, we were in different cities, so we had to find solutions." The couple went through an application that allows them to safely store nudes without being able to download the photos in order to avoid any revenge porn. Imené increasingly got into in the game and started to create more elaborate settings for more charming and enticing photos. She sourced fabrics to hang as colorful backdrops, invested in new lingerie and even a tripod, in order to take better pictures. This new online dating practice has added benefits. It encouraged her boyfriend to also use his imagination beyond the usual dick pic. "It's true that when we think of the male nude, we imagine a horrible picture of a cock in a bathroom. Inspired by the quality of my photos, my boyfriend took it as a challenge and began to stage himself more elaborately to feed our fantasies", says Imène. As a result, the couple is not only stronger but also more imaginative. They still prefer to see each other under the duvet, but after having tried sex from a distance, the couple can no longer do without it and regularly organize intimate evenings in front of each other to spice up their daily life, which has obviously changed a lot since the beginning of this crisis.
Dating after COVID-19. How to get excited about dating again?
The virus has disrupted our relationships, couple-hood, our sexuality and our life in general. The COVID-19 pandemic has changed online dating too. The pandemic caused an increase in the use of dating apps and dating sites. But everyone has been able to search within themselves and through great ingenuity, developed new ways to continue to flirt and have fun. Surprisingly, their pleasure has only increased, fuelled by a need to meet people which has grown in recent months. So yes, while at the moment a match on a dating app doesn't necessarily mean an immediate meeting and sleepless night, it also becomes an opportunity to get to know each other, to make your desires known, to get excited from a distance, to perfect your sexting and charm each other with photos, all before finally having the opportunity to lock yourself up together for something other than confinement.
*This article was originally published in French.