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What It Means To Live and Love From A Distance

Stephen Hussey

Are you finding it…difficult to date right now?

That’s understandable.

I keep hearing from people who say, “I had such high hopes for 2020! This was going to be MY year! What the F**K happened?”

Well, to put bluntly: shit hit the fan.

Every 50 years or so in human history, you can almost set your watch by the arrival of a completely unforeseen “black swan” that completely puts paid to any grand plans we may have had in the near-term future.

I won’t make predictions of what the future holds for the economy or getting back to normal. There are simply too many unknowns at this point.

But what we do know 100% is that the entire year will be defined by a string of letters and numbers none of us had ever heard of a few months ago: COVID-19.

As for what that means for love…well, here I will indulge on imagining some possible outcomes:

– Dating apps that you can only join if you can prove you’re immune to coronavirus. (Being “corona-free” will be at a premium on the mating market, and people will want official proof).

– Monogamy becomes preferred to casual dating for a while. Hook-ups are on pause, and people will prefer to take less risk with new sexual partners.

–  A LOT more reticence about hand-holding…and face stroking…and all physical intimacy, especially with new partners. The whole dating process moves slower for a while. At least until more people can be tested or vaccinated.

The consequences of the virus on human life are obviously tragic and catastrophic.

But what it means for finding love? It’s too early to tell.

One thing to remember about humans though: We crave intimacy. We don’t like to be alone. We need each other.

Whatever new world is ushered in for now thanks to the invisible enemy that has changed all our lives, we will find ways to make love work in it.

In a crisis, suddenly the essentials are laid bare in a very simple way: I want to eat, I want shelter, I want someone to love, I want to connect with people I care about.

So how do you connect now?

I don’t know about you, but strangely in this time I’ve found myself reaching out to more people than usual, and I am known amongst all my friends for being terrible at texting. I’ve been FaceTiming and sending gifs and trading memes and engaging in gallows humour with friends abroad about how we are all trying to get through this bizarre moment.

It’s like the entire world is sailing through the same choppy waters. We are all boats chugging along in the raging ocean. We wave at the passers-by on their boats, their passengers so close, yet so far.

Lucky for us though, unlike those who endured the Spanish flu of 1918, we have the lifeline of technology.

That’s right, the very culprit accused of destroying modern dating may just be the thing that saves us from isolation. Mother nature loves a delicious irony.

So what to do?

Well, here are some things to get started:

1. Record

Film things. Take notes of what you’re feeling and learning each day. Write a diary.

The more you do this, the more you’ll get into a flow state of awareness and days won’t just drift by with you on the couch wondering what’s going to happen next.

If nothing else, document your experience. It’s something you can pass on and look back on and preserve as a historical artefact of “the year the world shut down”.

Plus, now is the perfect time when no-one will judge you for doing dumb Family Guy impressions on Instagram stories.

2. Flirt

Just because we’re alone, doesn’t mean we can’t meet people.

Now is the time to seek out people like you. On forums. On Twitter. On your favourite Facebook fan page. And yes, on dating apps.

People are spending most of their time online, and are hungry for people to reach out to. I think if there were ever a time I’d encourage people to be on dating apps, it’s now.

Have conversations with people, happily knowing that the furthest you can take it right now is a FaceTime chat from the comfort of your living room. And if it goes really well, have a date. Pour a glass of wine and watch a movie over Skype together. Go for your socially isolated morning walk as you speak on the phone for the first time.

Weirdly, this is actually chance to be wholesome in a way that hasn’t been true of online dating for some time. You can actually get to know someone and fall for their personality. You can look forward to the day when you actually meet in person. You can write love notes. Or exchange moussaka recipes. Play online chess. You know, all that mushy stuff.

3. Learn

Now is the moment for frivolous learning.

I’m trying to use this moment to improve at chess, read more classic literature and physics, understand a bit more about viruses and epidemiology, take online courses in history, Shakespeare, and economics.

I’ve always believed that your quality as a long-term partner is directly related to the thoughts in your head. If you have great books, thoughts, emotions, and knowledge to share – you have a HUGE edge that most people don’t.

If we want to attract great people, the time to work on self-improvement is now.

4. Play

I have a scheduled video game session tonight over Skype with my brothers and some friends. We would never usually do such a thing, but now we can’t wait for the idea of laughing and making a party out of playing Playstation and sitting on our couches. Sometimes I dance randomly in my room, in front of the mirror, as though I actually have anything to show off (I don’t).

I do online puzzles and quizzes on Sporcle, and generally find myself being drawn to anything where I can mess around and have fun actively, instead of just passively binge-watching more TV series.

5. Reach out

You have the perfect excuse to reach out to people. We are all looking for someone to say, “I hope you’re ok”. Even if it’s an emoji and a one-line message, if you’re hesitating over whether you should message someone or not: just do it.

I know how much it’s warmed me to hear from anyone who texts and asks how I’m doing in lockdown.

Even in this moment of physical distance, we can still make our emotional bonds stronger than ever.

Bottom line: Don’t let a lockdown tell you your life is now stalled. It’s not. It requires adjustment, acceptance, and some calm in the face of a lot of uncertainty. But it doesn’t mean there isn’t space for play, joy, learning, helping make others smile, and yes, possibly, just possibly, still falling in love.

We might be in a slump, nay, a panic, but that doesn’t mean a few good romantic stories can’t find their way out of this.

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4 Replies to “What It Means To Live and Love From A Distance”

  • Great many thanks for this, Matthew. It is just the burning problem of these days. Luckily I am allowed to walk my Chihuahuas and we can get in contact through dogs as intermediates, we can smile, we can try to communicate something friendly. But the core drama remains. I must stay away from people and find other ways to establish closeness and understanding. It is somewhat easy on the internet, but I am burning outside and in the market. Panic and desire for friendliness go criss cross. I am training myself. Use all means at hands. You are one of the sources to empower me to reach out for my goal.Let us do all the best to go through this crisis. I will not stop to send smiles even through the mask and to find a word. I am happy to see the elderly people sitting in the sun, to see small families cycling through the fine weather. I am grateful for all these people around me. Take care and thank you again!

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