Now we literally can’t meet someone – in person at least. It should be bliss. All single people can legitimately claim a Saturday night in our PJs with a pizza and Netflix is doing our bit for humanity and the planet. Try disputing that.
In the distant past (early 2020), the question ‘Have you met anyone special yet?’ would strike dread in my heart. ‘I’m waiting for the universe to gift me someone’ was apparently an unacceptable reply. I wanted a meet-cute, not Gary on Hinge looking for an open-minded fitness fanatic who shares his love of himself.
Yet, here’s the thing. Remember when Emma Watson (queen) said she was ‘self-dating’? Well, I’ll be honest, there’re only so many times I can curl up with myself on the sofa watching Love is Blind before I start talking to the doors in my flat, pretending there’s someone on the other side taking notes. More than ever before, I want to ‘get out there’. But at a time when human connection is a gift, not a given, how do you meet someone when you can’t actually meet? Obviously, we could just pick up the phone, but frankly we have enough anxiety to deal with.
Online dating is the obvious answer, but apps are supposed to be a way to weed out the nopes for dates IRL. The idea of endless messages with no end in sight makes me want to hide behind my toilet roll tower (I’m joking of course, I mean my Andrex wet wipe fortress).
So how do you date in the time of Corona?
Netflix and Chat: the new perfect first date. Once you’ve matched on an app, suggest an episode of something to watch (preferably short if you’re risk-averse – Lovesick, The End of the F***ing World, Pandemic, to remain on-theme), and message along in the safety of your own homes. Great for finding out early on whether your date is the kind of person who finds your healthy appreciation of Geralt the Witcher’s grunts intimidating. And you don’t even have to get dressed up – or at all (wear something though, don’t make it weird). Plus, you have the perfect get out. Trust me, ‘My internet just went down’ is the new ‘Something bad happened!’ phone call, and a bad connection the new ghosting. The bold can then graduate to the Netflix Party, so you can see your date’s reaction to both renditions of Tina Turner’s ‘The Best’ on Schitt’s Creek (i.e., whether they have a heart), which brings me on to:
Video dating: Guardian Blind Dates has just put out a call for people interested in a cheeky takeout and an online video date. Thankfully, you can do this without it being livestreamed to the nation. Plus, you can dress for a party on the top, pjs on the bottom, i.e., the dating mullet. Set up your lighting first. I’ve been on enough work video calls now to know my flat’s spotlights make me look like a haunted Victorian doll. And remember: no one’s hair matches our dating app photos right now. Open a bottle of something rather than eating a meal. There must be some benefits to not having to feign interest in your date’s TV preferences while trying to attractively eat all that pasta you’ve been stockpiling.
Go where feels comfortable from there – boardgames (Pandemic, anyone?), two-player gaming (not a euphemism – unless you want it to be), a dance-off, or let’s finally use WhatsApp’s audio message function by reading our favourite books to each other. No visuals needed. People with sexy voices – this is your time.
And if you are still craving a meet-cute, there’s always the social distancing version: letter writing. Personal, whimsical, heartfelt. Probably best if you’re already dating so you know who you’re writing to (i.e., not a pervert).
Yes, you could leave a note tucked into a park bench on the off chance your perfect someone will happen across it while taking a solo walk, or on an empty supermarket shelf once containing Heinz beans, but use caution. I seriously considered putting HELLO in my window just so my future partner could say ‘You had me at…’, but said window looks out onto my neighbour’s yard and the other day I woke up to him playing catch with a plank of wood. Even when times are hard, you’ve got to have some standards.
Good luck out there (or in there, rather), and above all else – stay safe!
Would Like to Meet by Rachel Winters is out in eBook and publishes in paperback on 30 April (Trapeze, £8.99)