Is It Love Or Is It Lockdown?
Daily conversations on Tinder rose by 12% between mid-February and the end of March, but will this surge to find love during a global pandemic last the test of time?
During the first lockdown, dating apps saw a huge rise in activity. We couldn’t go to bars or grind up against people in clubs, so we turned to the virtual catalogues of Bumble, Hinge, Tinder, and… you know the drill.
I’ve personally always found the swiping and chatting stage of using a dating app rather tedious and mind numbing. I’m the kind of person who likes to jump straight to the “So, do you want to go for a drink?” But during lockdown, all we had was conversation, FaceTime dates and the frustration of getting to know someone through a screen.
But perhaps this was the restriction that we all needed to make real connections? Maybe this lack of physical contact allowed us to find something closer to love than lust. Or, are most of these new relationships born out of lockdown, merely a product of the environment with no chance of lasting once we’re back to ‘normal’ life?
With more time on our hands, swiping left and right may have just been an activity to pass the time, but the romantic in me suggests that lockdown did stir a universal desire for companionship.
Because the end of the world was coming!
Okay, this wasn’t actually the case, but there was definitely a feeling of doomsday in the air, causing a rush to find that “ride or die” you just didn’t know you needed. Put simply, lockdown suited monogamy, it was the ideal setting for long walks, Netflix and as we’ve all seen on our social media feeds, baby making.
If you did end up meeting someone over the past year, whether that was via an app or in real life (at a safe distance before the 10pm curfew) then like me, you might be wondering how this looks once we’re back to normal.
I did find love in lockdown, and it was completely unexpected. For a few years now I have actively avoided dating and relationships. My past love affairs have left me so bruised and wasted so much time that I decided to opt out. No apps, no texting back and forth, no one-night stands (sometimes one-night stands but very very rarely) because I didn’t see the point if my end goal wasn’t to be in a relationship.
Lockdown, however, gave me the time and space to think about what I wanted from life and what was important to me. And it turned out that the relationships in my life, my friends and family, were my saving grace. Pouring time and energy into those connections was all that really mattered. This realisation shifted the way that I looked at romantic relationships. For so long I had put a huge amount of weight on this type of relationship, so much so that they became all consuming. So, when I realised this wasn’t working, instead of changing the way I approached relationships, I did a 180 and banned them completely.
But as the saying goes, it’s all about balance and I realised that perhaps a relationship could fit into my life just like my friendships do, without subsequently taking over my life.
Clearly, this time of reflection created some sort of space, as in October, when we were allowed to dine inside with five other people, I stood outside in the pouring rain after being tossed out at 10pm only to, quite literally, fall into the arms of a very handsome stranger.
In the beginning of our relationship, it was extremely difficult to decipher between my own authentic emotions and experiences, and that caused by a global pandemic. Was I falling head over heels or was I just in a bubble that would be burst once staying in was no longer the new going out?
We spent an incredible amount of time together for two people in the early throws of dating.
Nothing was open, so it was long walks and intimate dates inside our respective homes. He lived alone so I was able to become his support bubble and like many in this situation we skipped a few stages and went straight to basically living together. We filled our time with conversation and hypothetical scenarios, we became physically close very quickly, as having sex and exploring each other’s bodies became our favourite past time.
Feelings that this may just be circumstantial began to subside however, as I realised that although what we had built was a product of lockdown, it was not suited only to lockdown.
We had learnt about each other without any distraction in a way that I had never experienced before.
I was listening to a lot of conversations around love in lockdown and how it was impossible to know whether your relationship was real, because you hadn’t experienced it in real life. But I felt the opposite. I felt that all the things that usually prevented me from having a healthy relationship didn’t matter anymore. There were no games, no confusion, just honesty, communication, and pure connection.
Of course, I, like many who have experienced a relationship in this very unique time, do have concerns about reverting to normal life. How does our relationship work when we both have plans every night of the week? But at the same time, if you’ve had a relationship during a lockdown, where you’ve quite literally only had each other to entertain and negotiate, I’d say you’re in pretty good stead to navigate most conflicts of interest.
And like anything, it’s all about your intent. If your intent was to jump into something because you were afraid of the end of the world or you wanted someone to shag on those long and lonely lockdown nights, then perhaps it’s not love. Perhaps you will come out of lockdown and realise it was the situation that made you want that relationship rather than the person.
Or maybe, when normal life comes around, you’ll realise that you don’t actually miss sharking in clubs and that your bubble is a long-term partner, rather than a short-term fix.
Because love isn’t always compromise, you can have that flourishing career, busy social calendar and a loving partner.
This was my largest lesson, that it does not always have to be either or. There is space in your life for everything that you need. You just have to prioritise what’s important to you and the things that truly benefit you. If your lockdown love has benefited you during this time, who’s to say it won’t benefit you whilst you go back to work, enter a shop without a mask and hang out with your friends without having to say. “we can’t hear you, your mic’s off!”
Only you can know if this new spark is love or lockdown, so listen to your gut, and give yourself time to adjust.
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